RNC 2016: The Wildest, Weirdest Stuff That’s Happened So Far (Updated All Week)

What’s happening?

The 2016 Republican National Convention is four days of “Make America Great Again” speeches by right-leaning celebs, politicians, prominent GOP supporters and Donald Trump’s family from Monday, July 18, to Thursday, July 21. The former Celebrity Apprentice star officially cinched the Republican party's nomination for president at the event at Quickens Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump introduces his wife Melania Trump on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Melania Trump kicked off the convention on Monday with a controversial and possibly plagiarized speech, along with addresses by Scott Baio, Willie Robertson, Antonio Sabàto Jr. and more.

Two of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s children, Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr., will take the stage on Tuesday. Plus, former Trump rivals Chris Christie and Ben Carson and general manager of Trump Winery Kerry Woolard are scheduled to deliver remarks.

On Wednesday, it’s Eric Trump’s turn to talk up his dad. Trump’s vice presidential running mate and Indiana governor Mike Pence will also take the mic.

For the grand finale on Thursday, his daughter Ivanka Trump, billionaire Peter Thiel and the Donald himself will conclude the action-packed week. 

Where can I watch it?

The full convention is being live streamed on the official GOP Convention YouTube channel. It will air in full on C-SPAN. Most major news organization will also broadcast coverage from the event.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump walks on stage to introduce his wife Melania on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Alex Wong/Getty Images

What’s already gone down so far?

Monday:

Donald Trump, naturally, made a grand entrance in rock star fashion. He walked on stage in a cloud of blue smoke to Queen’s hit “We Are the Champions” (which he did not get the band’s permission to use, and they’re not pleased). He introduced his wife, whose speech made headlines for its remarkable similarity to remarks delivered by Michelle Obama eight years ago.

Melania Trump
Melania Trump, wife of Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, delivers a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio Alex Wong/Getty Images

The former model turned jewelry designer gushed that her husband is an “amazing leader” and said “it would not be a Trump contest without excitement and drama.” She promised to focus on women and children if she were to serve as first lady. After she read a paragraph about family values, Twitter quickly characterized it as plagiarism from the First Lady’s 2008 address at the Democratic National Convention. Although the lines were almost identical, Trump’s campaign has deflected it as “common words and values.”

“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” Trump’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.” The controversy spurred the hashtag #FamousMelaniaTrumpQuotes on social media, which people used to share famous quotes from historical figures, movies and more that Melania must have written.

Donald Trump Jr., speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, July 19, 2016.
Donald Trump Jr., speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, July 19, 2016. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

During the “Make America Safe Again” themed day, Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson showed his support for Trump by joking about their hot wives. “I’ve always said that I have three things in common with Mr. Trump. We’re both successful businessmen. We’ve both had hit TV shows. And we both have intelligent hot wives who are much better looking than we are,” he said of his wife, Korie Robertson, and Melania. “Donald Trump will have your back,” the Duck Commander CEO concluded.

While actor Antonio Sabàto Jr. gave a fairly standard speech, some shocking remarks he made to a reporter afterwards captured the nation’s attention. Speaking about President Barack Obama, he told ABC News, “I don’t believe the guy is a Christian. I don’t believe he follows the God that I love and the Jesus that I love.” He even commented on his surname and said, “It’s not a Christian name, is it?” He concluded his attack on Obama by adding, “We had a Muslim president for seven and a half years. … I have the right to believe that.”

Scott Baio also spoke on behalf of the billionaire businessman, praising him as "a man that I trust with the lives of my family and the health of our country.” He proclaimed that Trump is the solution to all that ails the U.S. “We need Donald Trump to fix this. Is Donald Trump a messiah? No, he’s just a man, a man who wants to give back to his country, America, the country that has given him everything,” he said.

Baio continued to make headlines after an interview with the Today show's Tamron Hall. The journalist called out the actor on live TV for previously posting sexist tweets about presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama.

"Tamron, I’m a guy from Brooklyn. I have a certain sense of humor. I sit with my buddies and we smoke cigars. And we joke," Baio said. Hall cut him off and replied, "But does joking about a woman that way make America great again?"

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani compared his own accomplishments in office to Trump’s proposed policies. “It’s time to make America one again,” he said. “I know it can be done because I did it by changing New York City from ‘the crime capital of America’ to, according to the FBI, the safest large city in America. What I did for New York City, Donald Trump will do for America.” He added that through the years, Trump has anonymously helped out the Big Apple whenever the city has suffered a tragedy.

Tuesday:

Donald Trump officially secured the GOP presidential nomination during the second night of the RNC. Following the news, his daughter Tiffany Trump (from his marriage to his second ex-wife, Marla Maples) took the stage to address the crowd. The 22-year-old reminisced about how supportive her father has been over the years and how he used to write words of encouragement on her school report cards.

"I never expected to be here, addressing the nation. I've given a few speeches in classrooms, but never in an arena with 11 million people watching," she said. "For me, the measure of a parent is how much they bolster you when you're down. Without his support, I don't know how I would have made it through."

Donald Trump Jr. also praised his father at the event, but he didn't escape without backlash. He was later accused of recycling some of his speech, a claim Melania Trump faced one night earlier. Many pointed out that a small portion of his remarks could also be found in an article titled "Trump vs. the New Class," written by F.H. Buckley in The American Conservative.

"Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they're stalled on the ground floor. They're like Soviet-Era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers," Trump Jr. said on Tuesday night. Buckley's original line, for comparison, reads: "What should be an elevator to the upper class is stalled on the ground floor. Part of the fault for this may be laid at the feet of the system’s entrenched interests: the teachers’ unions and the higher-education professoriate. Our schools and universities are like the old Soviet department stores whose mission was to serve the interests of the sales clerks and not the customers."

Tiffany Trump, daughter of Donald Trump, speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, July 19, 2016.
Tiffany Trump, daughter of Donald Trump, speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, July 19, 2016. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Buckley later cleared the air via Twitter. He revealed that he had helped Trump Jr. with his speech and didn't realize that he had copied the piece word-for-word. "Except it wasn't stealing…" he tweeted. He added to Business Insider: "I was a speechwriter for this speech. So I'm afraid there's no issue here."

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and former GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson spoke in support of Trump, too. However, it was Chris Christie who stole the show. The New Jersey governor turned the arena into a courtroom when he made cases against Hillary Clinton and told the audience to shout back either "guilty" or "not guilty." (Christie endorsed Trump in February after dropping out of the race.) "We don't disqualify Hillary Clinton to be the president of the United States," Christie said. "The facts of her life and career disqualify her."

Clinton and her campaign team quickly hit back on Twitter. "If you think Chris Christie can lecture anyone on ethics, we have a bridge to sell you," her official account read. Back in 2013, Christie and some of his staff were accused of closing down two of the three lanes connecting Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the George Washington bridge in retaliation against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich because he didn't support Christie's reelection. Christie continues to deny his involvement.

Ahead of night three of RNC, Melania Trump's speech was once again thrown into the spotlight. Trump organization writer Meredith McIver announced that she was to blame for the speech's similarities to Obama's. She gave her resignation to Donald Trump, but he refused it.

"In working with Melania Trump on her recent First Lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people. A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama. Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama's speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech," McIver explained in a letter, via NBC. "Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences. 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."

Wednesday:

Night three of the Republican National Convention was an eventful one. The biggest surprise came when Texas senator Ted Cruz was booed off stage for not endorsing Trump. Additionally, the audience seemed peeved when he told them to "vote with your conscience."

Trump reacted to the incident via Twitter. "Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge!" he wrote. "I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!"

Cruz explained why he didn't endorse Trump to CNN. "I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father," he said on Thursday. "I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night. And like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November."

Cruz and Trump have had a tumultuous relationship on the campaign trail. (Cruz dropped out of the presidential election in May.) Back in March, Trump memorably retweeted an unflattering photo of Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, next to a dolled-up pic of Melania. "The images are worth a thousand words," the caption read. (Trump also accused Cruz's dad, Rafael Cruz, of helping to assassinate John F. Kennedy.)

Cruz slammed Trump in an interview soon after. "It’s not easy to tick me off. I don’t get angry often," he told reporters during a Wisconsin campaign pit stop. "But ya mess with my wife, ya mess with my kids, that’ll do it every time. Donald, you’re a sniveling coward, leave Heidi the hell alone."

Like Cruz, conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham caused an uproar on Twitter on Wednesday. She was accused of making what looked similar to a Nazi salute to a photo of Trump on stage. "Duh…it's a satiric response to the left-wing criticism of Laura's wave last night," her official Twitter account posted afterward in response. "Desperate liberals."

The RNC did have some more positive moments as well, though. Mike Pence officially accepted the GOP's nomination for vice president. "I’m new to this campaign and honestly I never thought I’d be standing here. I thought I’d be spending this evening with all my friends from the great state of Indiana," the Indiana governor said. "Yet, there I was, a few days ago in New York City with the man who won 37 states, who faced 16 talented opponents and outlasted every one of them and along the way brought millions of new voters into the Republican Party."

Pence was joined by Trump after his speech — and they didn't just shake hands. Trump hilariously went in for an air kiss, which missed Pence's forehead by just an inch.

Eric Trump was yet another person in Donald's corner on Wednesday. The Trump Winery owner continuously complimented his father behind the podium. "It's an honor to be here for a man I love so, so, so much," he said. "To make this sacrifice, to run for the most powerful yet unforgiving office in the world. There is no greater calling and there is more selfless act. My father is running for you."

He concluded: "Never have I been more proud to be a Trump. Never have I been more proud to be my father's son. I'm incredibly honored to be part of this journey on which he's invited me, Don, Ivanka, Tiffany, Melania, my beautiful wife, Lara, our entire family, to play such an integral part. Dad, you have once again taught us by example, you are my hero, you are my best friend, you are the next president of the United States."

Thursday:

On the final night of the RNC, Ivanka Trump took the stage to introduce her father in a polished and passionate speech. "This is the moment and Donald Trump is the person to make America great again," she started.

"A Trump presidency will turn the economy around and restore the tradition of giving each generation hope for brighter opportunities than those of generations that came before," Ivanka continued. "When my father says he will make America great again, he will deliver. … To people all over America, I say when you have my father in your corner, you will never again have to worry about being let down. He will fight for you all the time."

The crowd cheered when the business mogul took the stage to formally accept the Republican nomination. Trump's speech went for an hour and 15 minutes, making it the longest acceptance speech in history.

During his time at the podium, the presidential hopeful declared himself to be the "law and order candidate," and promised to make the country safe again, addressing his plans for fighting terrorism and enforcing laws.

In one controversial moment, Trump accused some members of NATO of not pulling their weight. "Recently I have said that NATO was obsolete because it did not properly cover terror," he said. "And also that many of the member countries were not paying their fair share. As usual, the United States has been picking up the cost."

Trump also declared at one point in his speech, "I am your voice!" Clinton quickly fired back on Twitter, saying, "You are not our voice, @realDonaldTrump." It was just one of several moments when the presumptive Democratic nominee chimed in during the former Apprentice star's speech.

When the Republican candidate tweaked Clinton's campaign slogan ("I'm With Her") as he wrapped up his speech to say, "I'm with you," the former secretary of state tweeted, "*Not included, women, African Americans, LGBT people, Muslims, Latinos, immigrants…"

Though the speech was lengthy, the candidate experienced just one interruption. About 25 minutes into his speech, Trump paused as CODEPINK founder Medea Benjamin disrupted the event by holding up a sign that read "Build bridges, not walls." She was escorted out of the arena by security.

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