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N.C. delegate breakfast shows 3 looming GOP troubles

Chairman of the Republican National Committee's Standing Committee on Arrangements Steve King, left, and Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus pose for a photo at Quicken Loans Arena for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Chairman of the Republican National Committee's Standing Committee on Arrangements Steve King, left, and Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus pose for a photo at Quicken Loans Arena for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. AP

Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten is at the Republican National Convention this week in Cleveland. Here’s what he’s seeing:

N.C. breakfast reveals 3 looming GOP troubles

Monday, 9:57 a.m.

Rep. Darrell Issa was the keynote speaker at the North Carolina delegation’s breakfast this morning. In about five minutes, he accidentally pointed to three themes that might have the Republican Party in trouble this November.

▪ First, he reminded the delegates that the Republican Party was the party that ended slavery and, he said, fought for women’s right to vote. It is the party that, under President Dwight Eisenhower, built the interstate highway system and other infrastructure that was so crucial to growing America’s economy.

The comment was meant to tout the GOP, but it mainly serves as a reminder of how desperately the party needs to get back to what it once was. The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower, and even of Reagan, is no more. It is now the party of Trump, and that is a very different thing.

▪ Issa asked the room of 150 or more people how many of them think they know much about Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate. About three hands went up. Hardly seems like the pick, then, that is going to drive Republicans and independents to the polls in November.

▪ Issa cracked, “I’m in a rare position: I’m friends with both Paul Ryan and Donald Trump.” It was a joke, but many a truth are told in jest. House Speaker Ryan, perhaps the party’s leading light, is no fan of Trump’s, and that speaks to the unity that the party continues to lack with Trump leading the ticket.

Trump’s cabinet: Chachi and Duck Dynasty?

Sunday, 11:55 p.m.

I thought I was flying to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, but it looks like it’s actually going to be the Republican National Unconvention. At 5 p.m. Sunday, and not a moment too soon, the Republicans finally announced the program for the four-day party that starts today – and there’s nothing conventional about it.

The GOP’s press release cuts right to it, declaring that those taking the stage “will lead an unconventional lineup of speakers” who will “make a serious case” about how Donald Trump will make America great again.

And they aren’t kidding. Take today, for example. The theme of the day is “Making America Safe Again.” That’s a smart way to kick things off the day after three police officers were shot dead in Baton Rouge and days after the horrific attacks in Nice, France, and Dallas. The nation and world are on edge in a way we haven’t been perhaps in decades (other than right after 9/11), and we could use some real leaders stepping up to explain how Trump will make America safe again.

First up? Willie Robertson, the star of Duck Dynasty. I am not making this up, as the Miami Herald’s legendary Dave Barry says (and will no doubt have many chances to say if he chooses to while he’s here in Cleveland this week). I am also not making this up: A few slots after Robertson? Scott Baio. Yes, Chachi from Happy Days.

And toward the end of the list of tonight’s prime-time speakers on keeping America safe? Melania Trump, Donald’s wife. I’m not sure how her modeling career prepares her to speak on national security. Maybe it’s that living with Donald Trump has put her in a war zone day after day. And she’s steeped in policing issues, since she’s a member of the Police Athletic League.

So there you go: Willie Robertson, Scott Baio and Melania Trump are tonight’s highlighted speakers on how a Trump administration would keep America safe. Is he trying to lose this thing on purpose? Perhaps Robertson will be Secretary of Defense, Baio will be attorney general and Melania will be Secretary of State.

There will be other speakers tonight, of course, including a few politicians, a few Benghazi veterans and a few relatives of people tragicially killed by illegal immigrants who should have been deported. Oh, and an actor from The Bold and the Beautiful; in this case that must mean Donald and Melania.

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