Well, he did it.
Hats off in tribute from the shaking heads of Donald Trump doubters, the beginner politician who’s now officially the 41st presidential nominee in the long history of the Republican Party.
Thirteen months ago when he announced, the idea of the loud real estate billionaire topping the ticket of the party of Lincoln was a laugh line.
Many of the men Trump defeated have long records of conservative political achievement. One even spent more than $100 million of other people’s money in vain, more than $33 million per delegate earned.
Tapping into widespread anger and fear among Americans, especially in the beleaguered middle class, the New Yorker defeated 16 younger, far more experienced pols. In doing so, he earned a GOP-record 13 million primary votes.
Trump needed 1,237 delegates for a majority in Cleveland. The official convention tally Tuesday night gave him 1,725, Ted Cruz, 475; John Kasich, 120; Marco Rubio, 114; Ben Carson, 7; Jeb Bush, 3; and Rand Paul, 2. Mike Pence was confirmed VP nominee by acclamation.
Many of the men Trump defeated have long records of conservative political achievement. One even spent more than $100 million of other people’s money in vain — more than $33 million per delegate earned, as it turned out.
Trump tweeted: “Such a great honor to be the Republican Nominee for President of the United States. I will work hard and never let you down! AMERICA FIRST!”
No doubt we’ll see some of the losers back on the trail again in 2020 and beyond.
And we’ll also see in 15 weeks whether Trump’s gargantuan achievement was worth it.
By the middle of the convention reality show, the Trump campaign plan was clear: Share testimonials from all angles of Trump’s life and work. “You often see Donald Trump talk,” said Kerry Woolard, general manager of Trump Winery. “But what you don’t see is when he listens.”
The most effective testimonials came from veterans and his family. “Whatever my father does,” said new college graduate Tiffany Trump, “he gives his all, and does it well. His desire for excellence is contagious.”
“For my father,” said Donald Trump Jr., “impossible is just the starting point. That's how he approaches business projects. That's how he approaches life.”
The nominee’s older son said his father had his children work on construction sites, learning from people who don’t need offices. He said their teachers had PhDs in common sense.
The son said his father’s “true gift as a leader is that he sees the potential in people that they don't even see themselves."
Then there was the ongoing destruction of Hillary Clinton’s experience and character led by Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor.
Christie constructed a detailed case, charging her with serious errors of judgment in Libya, Nigeria, China, Syria, Iran and Russia. Then he asked the delegates for a verdict. Guilty on all counts was their answer.
Christie added, “Hillary Clinton cared more about protecting her own secrets than she cared about protecting American secrets. And then she lied about it over and over and over.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate leader Mitch McConnell joined in with more enthusiasm than expected. “Not since Baghdad Bob has there been a public figure with such a tortured relationship with the truth,” said McConnell. “Fortunately, there’s a clear choice before us — and it’s not Hillary.”
Of course, it’s easier and safer now to criticize the opposition. And that can appear to authentic Trumpers that others agree with the official nominee, which gives the appearance of unity. Bernie Sanders will do the same thing next week in Philadelphia.
Now, the new team captain comes to bat in his acceptance speech. His words and attitude there will set the tone for what’s next.
Malcolm is an author and veteran national and foreign correspondent covering politics since the 1960s. Follow him @AHMalcolm.