CLEVELAND — Donald Trump officially became the Republican nominee for president here Tuesday night, a landmark moment in American political history that made complete the celebrity businessman’s unlikely conquest of the party.

But Republicans at their national convention celebrated Trump’s triumphant milestone not by promoting his personal virtues and policy ideas so much as by leading a three-hour prosecution of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

There were allegations that she had enabled sexual abuse at the hands of her husband. She was accused of having sympathy for Lucifer. There were so many references to her private email server and the 2012 Benghazi attacks that it was hard to keep count.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie led a call-and-response prosecution of her actions as secretary of state, turning the audience into an ad hoc jury: “Guilty or not guilty?”

The crowd interrupted him four times: “Lock her up!” the delegates chanted. “Lock her up!”

The convention’s first two nights have been striking for the unusual amount of time spent demonizing Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, as opposed to rounding out the image of the party’s polarizing standard-bearer.


Tuesday evening’s program was choreographed to promote party unity under the banner “Make America Work Again,” but there were sparse references to economic policies or job growth.

Instead, convention viewers were served a buffet of scattered messages and themes, underscoring the party’s divisions and discomfort with Trump. For instance, overhauling trade deals has been a cornerstone of Trump’s economic agenda, yet there was relatively little mention of his ideas about trade.

Nor were there many mentions of his other signature ideas: building a wall on the southern U.S. border, temporarily barring foreign-born Muslims from entering the country, and deporting undocumented immigrants en masse.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin gave the most substantive and muscular speech about conservatism. But the man who four years ago got a rock-star reception at the Republican convention as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate was coolly received by Trump delegates in the convention hall.

Ryan, who has uneasily endorsed Trump, spoke mostly about his own agenda for House Republicans. Addressing the turmoil that Trump has wrought on the party, Ryan said, “Democracy is a series of choices. We Republicans have made our choice.

“Have we had our arguments this year?” he continued. “Sure we have. You know what I call those? Signs of life – signs of a party that’s not just going through the motions, not just mouthing new words for the same old stuff.”



The most effective character testimonials came from two members of the Trump family – Donald Jr. and Tiffany – who tried to convince people their father is more compassionate and trustworthy than the caricature of Trump.

“Donald Trump has never done anything halfway, least of all as a parent,” said Tiffany, 22, his daughter from his second marriage with Marla Maples, who was in attendance.

Tiffany added, “My dad is a natural-born encourager, the last person who will ever tell you to lower your sights.”

Donald Trump Jr., 38, delivered a particularly forceful defense of his father and tried to explain his appeal to blue-collar America. He described how his father mentored him at construction job sites, and he condemned a system that benefits “our new aristocrats.”

“He didn’t hide out behind a desk in an executive suite,” Trump Jr. said. “He spent his career with regular Americans. He hung out with the guys at construction sites . . . pouring concrete and hanging sheetrock.”


Other speakers sought to convince voters that Trump had developed unrivaled business acumen, a strategic mind and drive during his decades as a real estate baron and promoter. His career – a quest for riches and fame that was marked also by successive bankruptcies and other failings – has been the subject of an assault by Clinton and her allies.

Speaker Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, recalled how Trump took his sport seriously at a time when many athletic commissions and arenas would not. He testified to Trump’s business instincts, work ethic and loyalty.

“I have been in the fight business my whole life,” he said. “I know fighters. Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump is a fighter. And I know he will fight for this country.”

The speakers tried to refocus the convention after a problematic opening night punctuated by Melania Trump’s speech, which was well received but came under scrutiny because it contained passages nearly identical to portions of Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

There were curious choices made in Tuesday’s program as well. For example, Christie delivered the most electric speech of the night, but it was given before the network prime hour to make time for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and soap opera star-turned-avocado-farmer Kimberlin Brown.



As on opening night, there was plenty of Clinton bashing. The governor and attorney general of Arkansas were especially aggressive in assailing Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, including over their years in Arkansas.

Sharon Day, co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, raised Bill Clinton’s personal scandals.

“As first lady, you viciously attacked the character of women who were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of your husband,” Day said of Clinton. “I want to see a woman become president one day, and I want my granddaughters to see a woman president, but not that woman, Hillary Clinton. Not now, not ever.”

The evening’s festivities began with the traditional state-by-state roll call, complete with ceremonial pomp and flourishes.

It lacked the drama and suspense that “Never Trump” Republicans had hoped for, as the party’s controversial standard-bearer easily won a majority of convention delegates to formalize his nomination.

Still, Trump’s achievement Tuesday was remarkable. A reality-television star and businessman who entered a race against more than a dozen of the Republicans’ brightest stars, Trump muscled each of them out of his way with his raw, populist appeals to people’s economic grievances and nationalistic impulses.


In the end, all the party had left was Trump. And on Tuesday night, it became his.

Trump beamed in live from Trump Tower in New York, telling delegates that this was an evening he will “never, ever forget.”

“Together we’ve achieved historic results with the largest vote total in the history of the Republican Party,” Trump said. “This is a movement, but we have to go all the way. . . . We’ll win the presidency and bring real change and leadership back to Washington.”

At 7:12 p.m., Trump’s oldest child, Donald Jr., stood on the convention floor – locking arms with siblings Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany – and ceremonially cast New York state’s 87 Trump delegates for his father, pushing him over the required 1,237-delegate threshold.

“It is my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top in the delegate count tonight,” Donald Jr. said. “Congratulations, Dad, we love you!”



With chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” filling Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland and a band playing an instrumental version of “New York, New York,” the Trump children fought back tears, visibly moved by the emotion of the moment.

Later in the evening, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was formally nominated as the party’s vice presidential candidate.

Earlier, Maine party officials awarded the state’s 23 delegates – 12 for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, nine for Trump and two for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The delegation was composed almost entirely of Cruz supporters elected by party faithful during the state Republican convention in June.

Cruz won 46 percent of the votes cast in Maine’s Republican caucuses in May, compared with Trump’s 33 percent. But Cruz failed to win a majority, meaning he secured only 12 of the state’s 23 delegates. And because Maine is one of the states that require delegates to follow the outcome of their state primaries or caucuses on the first round of voting in Cleveland, nine of those Cruz supporters were “bound” to supporting Trump.

The political drama had long ago drained out of the day at the national convention, after Trump’s primary victories had erased the prospect of a contested convention, and after Trump’s allies had squelched the efforts of some rebellious delegates to disrupt the convention itself.

There were spurts of dissent, some unspoken. For instance, when it came time for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to announce her state’s support for Trump, she turned the microphone over to a fellow delegate to utter Trump’s name. Trump has publicly chastised Martinez for her refusal, so far at least, to endorse him.

But the final roll call was decisive: 1,725 delegates for Trump, followed by 425 for Cruz, 120 for Kasich, 114 for Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, seven for Ben Carson, three for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and two for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.