It’s Donald Trump’s party now.
Trump officially became the GOP presidential nominee during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Tuesday, on a night when jailing presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton became the dominant theme.
The reality TV star formally received the presidential nomination after the Republican National Committee, through some creative maneuvering, allowed New York State to pledge its delegates out of order.
Representing the GOP delegation for New York State was Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr.
“It’s my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top in the delegate count tonight,” Trump, Jr. said.
And with that, the once long-shot presidential hopeful who had managed to overcome challenges from more mainstream Republican conservatives, emerged as heir to the throne of the party of Lincoln.
“Today has been a very, very special day, watching my children put me over the top earlier,” said Trump, whose informal acceptance speech was beamed over a large screen. The candidate will formally accept the party’s nomination on Thursday night.
Trump ran one of the most unconventional primary campaigns in recent history. Instead of grassroots politicking, he relied on delivering bombastic speeches in front of mass audiences and maintaining a hyperactive presence on Twitter.
His atypical campaign rhetoric has also been controversial. Trump has been accused of inflaming racial tensions with his anti-immigrant fervor and proposals to have Mexico build a 40-foot wall along its 2,000-mile border with the United States and to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
Now that the business tycoon has secured the nomination, Hispanics and Muslims in America are wondering where they stand as an already divided nation braces for four more months of wall-to-wall election coverage.
Long Islanders react to Donald Trump’s nomination
Watching the GOP convention Tuesday night, Nayyar Imam, who has served as Muslim chaplain for the Suffolk County police and is the president of Long Island Muslim Alliance, said he couldn’t help but think of comedian and former CBS Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson’s, “It’s a Great Day for America” segment.
“It’s a bad day for America,” Imam observed.
Imam expressed shock at the constant barrage of attacks aimed at Clinton. But he also came away pleasantly surprised after hearing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s speech on Tuesday.
“Everything is about Hillary Clinton,” Iman said. “There’s nothing about Donald Trump.”
Matthew Ugaz, a 19-year-old junior at Binghamton University who lives in Stony Brook, said he was initially “unsurprised” upon hearing the news of Trump’s coronation.
“However, I feel very angry and a bit unsettled about what’s going to happen to our Latino community,” Ugaz, a U.S. citizen whose family emigrated from Peru, told the Press.
Adding to his uneasiness was Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice president. Pence is scheduled to address the Republican convention Wednesday night.
“I am very worried,” said Ugaz, a volunteer at the immigrant advocacy group Make The Road Action. “Some of my family is illegal and undocumented.”
The advocacy organization has been busy going around communities and encouraging immigrants here legally to register to vote.
“Most immigrants that we spoke to that are allowed to vote, some of them are uncertain because they’re scared to make their voices heard,” Ugaz said. “There’s no reason to be afraid to have your voice heard.”
Plagiarism controversy swirls
Before voters can head to the polls, there’s still party business to address. Trump has to formally accept the nomination, which he’ll do on Thursday. The Democrats will hold their convention in Philadelphia next week.
“It’s been a great convention, very well-run, well-organized,” Suffolk County Republican Party Chairman and Trump surrogate John Jay LaValle told the Press in a phone interview as he stood by the Cleveland waterfront awaiting Trump’s arrival Wednesday.
“It was a great night,” he said of Tuesday’s roll call vote that gave Trump the nod. “It was tremendous. Especially being from New York, I was very proud to support Mr. Trump…It was very exciting. Everyone was elated, in the whole room, by the way.”
“You really felt like you were part of history and something very special,” LaValle added.
While most party officials were eagerly anticipating Trump’s acceptance speech, controversy was still lingering from Monday night when his wife Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing parts of First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech from 2008.
For two days the Trump campaign denied that segments of the speech were swiped. But on Wednesday Trump’s campaign released a statement in which a speechwriter accepted blame for the mishap.
“I asked to put out this statement because I did not like seeing the way this was distracting from Mr. Trump’s historic campaign for president and Melania’s beautiful message and presentation,” said a statement attributed to Meredith McIver, an in-house speech writer for the Trump organization.
For his part, Trump seemed unfazed by the controversy, taking comfort in the old adage: “All publicity is good publicity.”
With Melania’s cribbed speech hanging over the convention Tuesday night, the show went on with Trump’s roll call vote and speeches from GOP bigwigs like Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie needling Clinton.
Christie, a former federal prosecutor, stood onstage and held a mock trial of Clinton, lambasting her for personal and professional missteps he deemed illegal, prompting the convention goers to repeat in unison, “Lock her up!”
On Twitter, Clinton’s campaign shot back at Christie by referencing the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal, when his underlings closed the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., causing a colossal traffic jam that stretched miles.
Political consultant Michael Dawidziak, who worked at three Republican conventions from 1988 to 1996 as an aide to former President George H.W. Bush and candidate Bob Dole, acknowledged that this year’s GOP convention has been unlike any other.
“I say this one is clearly the most different one I’ve seen ever,” he said with a laugh when reached at his Long Island office. “It’s certainly a different type of convention. It’s not sticking to your typical script.”
As the Cleveland convention rolls on to its inevitable conclusion, Imam said he’s eager to see if Trump will still spread his anti-immigrant message during Thursday’s speech when the prime-time TV audience may be the largest of the week.
“That’s something we have to watch,” he said.
(Featured photo: Republican National Committee photo via Facebook)