(Danny Johnston/AP)

RNC in Cleveland, Day 1: On "Make America Safe Again" day, Trump and the GOP ignore police pleas on guns

So much for being the "law and order" candidate -- but hey, the guy from Duck Dynasty is speaking tonight


Sophia Tesfaye
July 18, 2016 8:40PM (UTC)

It's a rainy Monday morning in Cleveland to open the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) and already, the party "unity" supposedly on display this week has washed away hours before the first D-list celebrity is set to address the crowd in Quicken Loans Arena.

Go figure.

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Granted, while he outlined the GOP convention themes on NBC's "Today" Monday morning, Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort did leave Republican Party unity last on the list. Manafort described this week's convention as "a healing time," and predicted that by the end of the week, "by and large, it's going to be a united Republican Party." But when asked about high-profile subs from the likes of the entire Bush family and popular Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich, Manafort couldn't help but take the bait and step all over his message of unity.

"They are part of the past," he said of the Bush family. "We are dealing with the future"

The headliner for Monday's "Make America Safe Again" kick-off festivities is Trump's wife, Melania, a former model.

Later on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Manafort said that Kasich's decision to skip out on the RNC in his own state is “petulant.”

“He’s embarrassing his party in Ohio,” Manafort said of Kasich. "We think that was a wrong decision."

Manafort, for a third time Monday morning, addressed Kasich's absence while addressing reporters at a breakfast. According to The New York Times, Manafort attempted to sow disunity between Kasich and Republican Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who is facing a tough re-election battle and who supported Kasich during his primary battle against Trump.

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“He’s very upset with John Kasich,” Manafort said of Portman. “Because John Kasich is hurting him.”

But, as the Times reports, Portman’s campaign manager Corry Bliss denied Manafort's assertion: “That’s totally false.”

So while neither Jeb Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Kasich won't be attending the RNC in the year of Trump, Republicans do have the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch, Phil Robertson, and Trump for three out of four nights.

"I'd love to be there when my wife speaks," Trump said this morning in an interview with "Fox and Friends."

"So the answer is yes, I will be there" on Monday, Trump confirmed.

While officials events don't begin until 1 p.m. ET, rhetorical fireworks got underway in Cleveland over the weekend.

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Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Stephen Loomis repeated his calls for a temporary ban on the state's open carry law after the shooting death of three Baton Rouge police officers

“He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something -- I don't care if it's constitutional or not at this point," Loomis told CNN Sunday. “They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift it after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.”

But Governor Kasich explained in a statement that "Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested."

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The first half of Monday's RNC events are focused on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi and will feature two U.S. Marines who fought in Benghazi and the mother of one of the four who died.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry will introduce Marcus Luttrell, a U.S. Navy Seal who served in Afghanistan.

The second portion of "Make America Safe Again" day will focus on the “Fast and Furious” operation, another favorite conservative talking point used to criticize the Obama administration on the issue of immigration and guns. Set to speak are the siblings of Brian Terry, a border patrol agent who was killed using a gun traced back to the ATF gunwalking operation. The families of teenagers killed by undocumented immigrants are also set to speak Monday.

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Finally, the third portion of the day will focus on law enforcement. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Fox News Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will speak ahead of headliner Meliana.

And then, of course, there are the celebrity speakers.

Scott Baio, the television actor famous for his role on "Charles in Charge", former soap opera star Antonio Sabato Jr. and "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson will address the nation on Trump's behalf Monday.

Oh "Happy Days"!

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Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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