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Day 1 at RNC: Rebellion, Melania Trump

Attempt to change convention rules fails

(John Moore/Getty Images)

Convention drama: Trump campaign stops rules rebellion

Open discord and revolt broke out on the floor of the Republican National Convention Monday as GOP officials crushed an attempt to change party rules, a maneuver that could have embarrassed presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

In a highly unusual show of disunity and anger on the floor of a modern party convention, a group of states tried to force a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules of the convention. The rebellion apparently caught Trump's campaign team by surprise, and his lieutenants were seen frantically whipping votes on the floor to squelch the effort amid scenes of deepening disarray.

The dramatic scenes that unfolded around a normally routine procedure in passing the convention rules effectively turned into the last stand of party forces who had opposed the billionaire in the contentious Republican primary. Those holdouts were not trying to deprive Trump of the nomination -- in the knowledge they didn't have the votes.

But their protest, which highlighted antipathy toward Trump in some parts of the party, may also turn out to have been one of the opening salvos of the Ted Cruz 2020 campaign, as it was driven by several of the Texas senator's most prominent supporters who were keen to make the battlefield more favorable for conservatives in future Republican primaries.

The furor erupted when Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack, who was serving as convention chair, put the rules for the convention to a voice vote, and amid a chorus of boos and cheers from anti-Trump supporters declared those in favor of the motion had prevailed, while apparently ignoring objections from several state delegations on the cacophonous floor of the convention.

Womack then walked off the stage, amid chants of "roll call, roll call" by protesters, a chorus that was quickly met by loud counter chants of "Trump," "Trump" from the presumptive nominee's supporters.

"I have never seen the floor abandoned like that," said Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a key Cruz supporter as delegates on both sides of the row tried to work out of happen, amid roughly 10 minutes of uncertainty in which a jazz band played on stage, amid scenes of seething anger and confusion on the convention floor.

In one show of anger, Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli threw his credentials on the floor, frustrated that the chair was not allowing a full roll call vote.

At one stage, the Colorado delegation walked out of the convention hall.

When Womack returned to the stage and ran the voice vote for a second time -- and again declared "In the opinion of the chair, the aye's have it" -- several delegates did manage to lodge objections.

Womack explained that seven states were required to demonstrate a majority of their delegates wanted a roll call vote. While those backing a vote believed they had achieved that number by filing nine petitions, Womack told the convention that three states had subsequently withdrawn their petitions for a roll call vote, meaning there were not sufficient votes to force such a roll call vote.

Even had there been a roll call vote, the Trump forces would likely have prevailed since the billionaire managed to win a majority of delegates in the GOP primary. The Trump forces were also backed by Republican National Committee officials in a sign of new coordination between the insurgent candidate and the institutional party establishment.

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said the roll call push "was not about Trump."

"It would have been a meaningless gesture," Manafort said. "We knew the result, everybody knew the result and it would have affected the schedule for tonight so it wasn't something that was a wise choice."

Car in Trump's motorcade involved in minor accident

A vehicle in Donald Trump's motorcade was involved in a minor accident Monday in New York City on its way to the airport, as Donald and Melania Trump headed to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The vehicle was a staff car, and there were no injuries, a campaign source told CNN. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort described the accident as a minor incident.

Donald and Melania Trump are on their plane to Cleveland and are "all good," the source said.

The accident comes hours before Melania Trump is scheduled to make a high-profile speech on the first night of the Republican National Convention.

Trump's four adult children are also slated to speak this week, with the presumptive Republican nominee due to deliver Thursday night's featured address.

Benghazi victim's mother: 'Hillary for prison'

The mother of a victim of the Benghazi attack told Republicans gathered in Cleveland on Monday that Hillary Clinton "should be in stripes."

"This entire campaign comes down to a single question: If Hillary Clinton can't give us the truth, why should we give her the presidency?" Patricia Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, said to cheers on the opening night of the Republican National Convention.

"That's right," she said. "Hillary for prison. She deserves to be in stripes."

Her remarks come on a night focused largely on the Benghazi attack -- which took place during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state -- and immigration.

At the same time Smith spoke, Donald Trump was being interviewed on Fox News by Bill O'Reilly.

"I blame Hillary Clinton," she said. "I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son -- personally."

Clinton was investigated by a special House committee and testified before the committee for 11 hours about the Benghazi attack. The committee's final report, released last month, faulted the Obama administration for security lapses that led to the deaths of four Americans, but contained no revelations likely to further damage Clinton.

Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer, was killed along with U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and two CIA contractors in the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

Coming up on Tuesday

There's a major piece of business that Republicans will address Tuesday: Officially nominating Trump for president and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for vice president.

The nomination -- after the day's program kicks off at 5:30 p.m. ET -- takes place on a day otherwise focused on the economy.

Perhaps capturing the most attention from political insiders will be House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Endangered Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, one of the few Republicans facing tough re-election match-ups to embrace Trump, will speak, as will New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- who just lost out in the vice presidential sweepstakes.

Two of Trump's children are also on the calendar to speak Tuesday night. Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are among the headliners.

Trump is also bringing his own employees onto the stage. Kerry Woolard, the general manager of Trump Winery, will discuss her work alongside the presumptive Republican nominee in a prime-time speaking slot.

The night will also feature a broad range of non-political speakers -- including UFC president Dana White, golfer Natalie Gulbis and actress Kimberlin Brown.