Indiana Gov. Mike Pence introduced himself to the nation Wednesday night at the GOP Convention, held in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.
Wednesday night, themed “Make America First Again,” was supposed to thrust Pence into the national spotlight as Trump's running mate. But as he tried to make his pitch to Americans, drama on the convention floor stole the attention away from Pence.
The drama began early when Eileen Collins, a retired space shuttle commander, delivered a speech about space and providing adequate resources to the country's space program. A draft of her prepared remarks showed that she was supposed to say:
"We need leadership that will make America first again. That leader is Donald Trump."
The speech she gave on the floor left off those last five words, causing social media followers and pundits to take note of it.
The most viral speech of the night was delivered by Senator Ted Cruz, whose non-endorsement of Donald Trump created boos for Cruz and his family. His Republican colleagues harshly criticized his speech afterwards, some even calling it a career-killer.
"Don't stay home in November," Cruz said. "Stand and speak and vote your conscience."
Hillary Clinton was quick to jump on Cruz’s comments, telling voters on Twitter to follow their conscience when they take to the polls. Libertarian candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein also used Cruz’s statement to endorse themselves.
Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize his former primary opponent shortly after the speech was delivered.
“Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn’t honor the pledge!” Trump tweeted late Wednesday night. “I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!”
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich spoke shortly after Cruz and tried to argue that what Cruz said was the equivalent to an endorsement.
“I think you misunderstood one paragraph that Ted Cruz, who is a suburb orator, say, and I just want to point it out to you,” Gingrich said. “Ted Cruz said, ‘You can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution. In this election there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution.’”
Gingrich continued, “So, to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution of the United States, the only possible candidate this fall is the Trump-Pence Republican ticket. That way, we have a Republican ticket to implement Republican principles in Washington."
Eric Trump, Trump’s second-youngest son, delivered a speech in which he insisted that his father has a passion for helping everyday Americans.
“My father has revitalized run down neighborhoods, shaped skylines across the country, and turned dreams into reality his entire career,” Eric Trump said. “It’s what he does, it’s who he is.”
At times during Eric’s speech, his father could be seen in his seat applauding his son.
“Vote for the candidate that cannot be bought, sold, purchased, bribed, coerced, intimidated, or steered from the path that is right and just and true,” Eric Trump said. “Vote for the candidate you know is running for the right reasons.”
The final speaker of the night was Pence, who advocated for unity across the United States.
"On issue by issue — he and I will take our case to the voters, pointing out the failures of the Obama-Clinton agenda and showing a better way,” Pence said. “We will win the hearts and minds of the American people with an agenda for a stronger and more prosperous America."
Pence offered contrast between the Republican and the Democratic parties, suggesting that Americans are tired of the latter’s policies.
"At the very moment when America is crying out for something new and different, the other party has answered with a stale agenda and the most predictable of names," Pence said. “People in both parties are restless for change, ready to break free from old patterns in Washington, and Democrats are about to anoint someone who represents everything this country is tired of.”
After wrapping up his speech, Pence was greeted and embraced onstage by Trump. Trump then proceeded to “air kiss” the Indiana governor, and the exchange quickly became viral on social media.
Analysis of the final day of the Republican National Convention is already underway. Be sure to keep up with The Vindicator’s daily political updates.