Tuesday was “Make America Work Again” day at the Republican National Convention, which also happened to coincide with the party formally nominating Donald Trump as its nominee.
But neither jobs nor Trump got much attention as a grab bag of Republican headliners Tuesday spent most of their time demonizing Hillary Clinton and talking about themselves without offering an affirmative case for the nominee or a concrete economic policy agenda.
The keynoter, House Speaker Paul Ryan, spoke nearly 1,500 words but mentioned Trump’s name just twice. Promising he’d be standing alongside “Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump” at next year’s State of the Union address, Ryan spent the lion’s share of his time castigating the Democratic Party instead.
He told attendees that “only with Mike Pence and Donald Trump do we have a chance for a better way.” The “better way” was not specified.
“Watch the Democratic Party convention next week, that four-day infomercial of politically correct moralizing,” Ryan said instead, encouraging a divided Republican Party to head to the polls. “And let it be a reminder of all that is at stake in this election.”
Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson similarly appeared under a giant screen proclaiming the day’s slogan:
But he offered no economic policies. Instead, he immediately launched into a speech about perceived flaws in Hillary Clinton’s testimony about the Benghazi tragedy, and then pivoted to rhetoric about “Islamic terrorists.” He castigated his own opponent, former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, for opposing the USA Patriot Act and voting “against authorizing our military 11 separate times” — a message that clashes with Trump’s own scorn for the Iraq and Libya wars.
Trump’s name was mentioned just once in Johnson’s speech: “Donald Trump and Mike Pence … they’ll be strong leaders, working with Republicans in the House and Senate to achieve a goal that will unite us all: a safe and prosperous and secure America.” He offered no explanation of how Trump would be qualified to do any of this.
Johnson was followed by Chris Cox, the head of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm. Cox’s address never mentioned jobs at all — not even for the gun industry.
“Voting for Hillary Clinton, or not voting, is not an option!” Cox bellowed, possibly aiming his remarks at conservatives who are wary of voting for Trump, whose views on gun rights are constantly shifting. As for Trump’s qualifications, Cox had nothing to say.
A handful of non-politicians spoke about Trump as a person, including two of his children, the manager of the Trump winery, and the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.