Published July 21, 2016

Convention highlights

Monmouth trio blogs about thoughts on Trump, Cruz, ‘chaotic floor flight’
A “plagiarized” speech. A non-endorsement. Donald Trump’s (long) acceptance speech.

Monmouth’s trio of Republican National Convention reporters – professor Joe Angotti and college students Gareth Cordery and Jacob Mark – saw all of that and then some in Cleveland. True to their word, they left the coverage of such major stories to mainstream media, for the most part, and posted blog entries and tweets on story angles that were receiving less attention.

In one of his articles, Cordery, the son of former Monmouth professors Simon and Stacy Cordery, wrote about the State of Illinois’s big moment at the convention, when it came time for delegates to pledge their support for Trump.

“Illinois’s moment on the big screen avoided much of the extreme bragging (of other states),” he wrote. “The Illinois delegation chose to focus their words on their elected officials. … They completely ignored all of the budget problems in the state, but took time to call Bruce Rauner ‘the finest governor in our nation.’”

Marx, a senior political science major from DeKalb, Ill., wrote about meeting some Illinois delegates.

“Two memorable interviews were with Cynthia Shaffer (IL-3rd) and Bob Bedner (IL-10th). Both were avid fans of Trump, and both had dramatic things to say. Shaffer thought that Trump was ‘a buffoon’ before she heard him speak for the first time, but now believes he is ‘terrific’ and says ‘everything we were all thinking, but afraid to say.’ Bedner was unhappy with his Congressman, Bob Dold, for not endorsing Trump, saying Dold ‘needs to figure out he’s a Republican.’”

Speaking of non-endorsements, the Monmouth reporters interviewed Illinois delegates about Sen. Ted Cruz failing to endorse Trump, and most were negative toward Cruz. But Jim Kinney of Chicago responded more moderately: “You know, he was in a difficult position and I think he did the best he could do. I mean, he had to be true to himself. I think the loyalists wanted him to come out and do a firm endorsement, but I think it would’ve rung shallow.”

They also reported on a flag-burning incident just outside the convention arena and wrote about the “concealed carry” law in Ohio: “Although those with a gun license are allowed to carry in public places throughout Cleveland, they are not allowed to be within a certain distance from the Quicken Loans Arena and other places related to the convention.”

Angotti, who teaches in Monmouth’s communication studies department, tapped into his vast political experience as former executive producer of NBC Nightly News with the following insights about an incident that “received scant attention in the press.”

“During the (Monday) afternoon session, there was a last gasp effort by anti-Trump delegates to challenge the final report by the rules committee. Angry delegates shouted down the chair of the committee for refusing to allow a roll-call vote on accepting the rules committee report. It was an old-fashioned, chaotic floor fight with lots of shouting and chanting. … It demonstrated that there remains a sharp division among some delegates over support of Trump as their nominee.”

Angotti noted that political commentators compared the revolt to the Republican National Convention of 1976, when Gerald Ford was nominated but only after narrowly defeating a strong challenge from Ronald Reagan.

“I covered the 1976 convention for NBC News, and there are big differences between what I saw then and what I saw (Monday),” Angotti wrote. “The biggest difference, of course, is that there is no challenger to Trump. There is no Ronald Reagan standing by in the wings waiting to be called onstage. Another difference is that the revolt in 1976 was mostly carried out behind closed doors. There was nothing like the angry outbursts and chaos that happened here.”  
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