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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The much anticipated Republican National Convention got off to a tumultuous start on Monday in a campaign season that has witnessed seemingly infinite controversy and surprises. As thousands gathered at the Quicken Loans Arena is Cleveland and millions more tuned in to watch the live stream proceedings that would ultimately coronate Donald Trump as the nominee of the party, a floor fight of sorts erupted on the convention floor.

A sizable contingent of Republican National Convention delegates organized a floor protest after GOP officials dismissed a last-gasp effort by anti-Trump groups to force an embarrassing protest vote against the presumptive presidential nominee, CNN reported.

The anti-Trump forces started shouting "Roll Call" after the party leaders approved by acclamation rules at the start of the convention that barred them from registering their opposition, according to Reuters.

The rules were adopted by voice vote shortly after 4:00 p.m. local time, then after frantic protests, a second voice vote was taken as Trump opponents shouted repeatedly for a roll call vote.

Officials ultimately denied dissidents' request, declaring that there was not enough support to justify a roll call vote of the state delegations. Their decision means that delegates must vote for Trump on the first ballot if Trump earned those delegates in the primaries. Delegates in about a dozen states wanted to vote for other candidates on the first ballot to show their opposition to Trump.

Trump last week declared the so-called "Never Trump" movement dead, tweeting that "#NeverTrump is never more."

The effort showed that a vocal minority of convention delegates remain staunchly opposed to the presidential nominee the party is going to crown this week, according to a report in USA Today. The short-lived chaos on the convention floor underscored that the Republican Party's effort to unite behind its often-divisive leader has fallen short.

"What I want is a roll-call vote, which is our right as delegates," said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, as he helped lead the anti-Trump effort by about a dozen states. Lee, an outspoken Trump critic, blasted convention leaders for walking off the stage in the face of demands for the vote."I have no idea what's going on," the senator told reporters. "This is surreal."

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a leading supporter of a roll call vote, threw his credentials to the floor and walked out, claiming party leaders rammed through the voice vote in favor of the convention rules. "They just blatantly violated the rules," he told reporters.

In terms of financing the RNC’s elaborate display of patriotism, it emerged last week that the convention committee found themselves struggling to cover a $6 million shortfall that was triggered by sponsors who walked out over the choice of the party’s nominee. As was reported by Politico and other sources, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was approached to cover the remaining balance on July 12, just days before the opening of the convention. According to an INN report, the Cleveland convention has raised $58 million of its projected $64 million cost

Adelson is a major pro-Israel giver and a Republican who has pledged to spend tens of millions of dollars to help elect Trump.

The letter from the convention’s host committee lists among donors who have withdrawn their pledges as David Koch at $1 million, FedEx at $500,000, Visa at $100,000, Pepsi at $500,000 and Coca-Cola at $1 million.

The organizers bluntly admit that Trump and his controversies have led to the shortfall.

Controversy also insinuated its way into the selection of a clergy member to deliver the traditional invocation at the commencement of the convention. As was reported by the Matzav web site, Rabbi Ari Wolf, an Orthodox police chaplain in Cleveland, Ohio, replaced Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who heads the Manhattan synagogue that Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, attend, backed out of the Republican National Convention because his appearance had become too politically charged.

Rabbi Wolf is a talmid of Telshe Yeshiva and currently serves as Director of Administrative Services of Telshe Yeshiva. A respected ben Torah and askan, he a beloved member of the Cleveland kehillah, a humble public servant who has expended time and effort for the betterment of the community.

Subsequent to the color guard and the singing of the national anthem on Monday evening, a lineup of speakers focusing on the theme of “Making America Safe Again” delivered stirring and at times riveting words to the convention delegates.

Featured on Monday evening’s slate was former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani who unleashed a stinging barrage against Democratic presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton in an exceptionally high volume and energetic address.

Sixteen years after he'd been forced to pass on his Senate campaign amid a divorce and a bout with cancer, Giuliani pounded Clinton with everything he had, according to a CNN report

"Who would trust Hillary Clinton to protect them? I wouldn't. Would you?" he said.

"Hillary Clinton's experience is the basis for her campaign," Giuliani said. "Hillary Clinton's experience is exactly the reason she should not be president of the United States. There's no next election — this is it. No more time to repeat our mistakes of the Clinton-Obama years. Washington needs a complete turnaround."

CNN also reported that Giuliani offered a strong testimonial for Trump's personal qualities, telling the crowd he'd known Trump for 30 years and had watched him anonymously contribute to help police and firefighters in need.

"He has created and accomplished great things in my city and all over the world, but beyond that this is a man with a big heart," Giuliani said. "Every time New York suffered a tragedy, Donald Trump was there to help."

Giuliani then took aim at both Clinton and President Obama for avoiding the use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism.”

“This is why our enemies see us as weak and vulnerable. Donald Trump has said the first step in defeating our enemies is to identify them properly and see the connections between them, so we can find them and catch them,” Giuliani said, according to a Yahoo news report. “To defeat Islamic terrorists, we must put them on defense. If they are at war against us, which they have declared, we must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against them.”

Giuliani went on to criticize Obama’s policy in the Middle East and Clinton’s role in the region as a former secretary of state. He specifically focused on the criticisms of Clinton’s handling of the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead. The attack was a major theme throughout the night.

“Her dereliction of duty and failure to keep her people safe played a major role, as you heard tonight in the horrific Islamic terrorist murders on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012, in Benghazi,” Giuliani said.

Prior to Giuliani’s address, Trump’s campaign was given a formidable boost when Patricia Smith - whose son, Sean, was slain by terrorists in the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya took the stage at the Cleveland confab and blamed Hillary Clinton for the attack, according to an INN report.

"For all of this loss, for all of this grief, I blame Hillary Clinton," Smith said, referring to Hillary Clinton's failure to properly secure the Benghazi compound from attack.

"I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son. Personally. In an e-mail to her daughter shortly after the attack Hillary Clinton blamed it on terrorism, but when I met Clinton she lied to me and then called me a liar," she said.

"Since then," Smith continued, "I have repeatedly asked Hillary Clinton to tell me the real reason why my son is dead. I'm still waiting. Whenever I call the State Department, no one would speak to me because they say I am not a member of the 'immediate family'.

Arguably, the most polemical moment of the opening night of the GOP convention came when Trump’s Slovenian born wife, Melania took center stage in an address that won her rounds of thunderous applause.

Breaking with convention tradition, Donald Trump himself arrived at the convention with the express purpose of introducing his third wife who he called “the next First Lady of the United States,"

Donald Trump himself made a surprise appearance to introduce "the next First Lady of the United States," his third wife and an accomplished former model and jewelry designer.

According to an NBC News report, Mrs.Trump avoided personal stories about their courtship, relationship, and family life, but described Trump as a loyal husband, father, and boss who was more empathetic than he appeared. "He's tough when he has to be, but he's also kind and fair and caring," she said. "This kindness is not always noted but it is there for all to see."

She said his vision for America, which is frequently accused of exploiting white resentment, included prosperity for "Hispanics and African Americans and Asians and the poor and the middle class."

In a heartwarming moment, she led the crowd in cheering former Senator Bob Dole, the only former Republican presidential nominee attending the convention this week.

Mrs. Trump's gracefully delivered speech was a rare light note in an otherwise intense night filled with dark depictions of America and calls for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to be prosecuted and jailed.

Her speech was widely praised at first, but was marred by plagiarism charges after observers pointed out a section on family values strongly resembled a similar passage from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech.

Fern Sidman