Dispatch from Cleveland: It’s Oops Melania Day

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    Melania Trump addresses delegates during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland

    Melania Trump addresses delegates during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland

    As a couple of joggers passed me on a sidewalk this morning, I heard one say, “I would sure fire that speechwriter.”

    I’m in Cleveland covering the Republican convention, and there’s plenty of talk about the minute or so of Melania Trump’s podium speech that seemed to, well, borrow from a Michelle Obama address.

    Nobody in the Pennsylvania delegation was worried about it at their breakfast caucus, though.

    “I think we’ve gone way beyond the pale when we start to pick apart everything everyone says,” Congressman Mike Kelly of western Pennsylvania told me. “I don’t think there’s anything original about loving your family, about wanting the best for your country.”

    No big deal.

    I didn’t point out to him that then-Sen. Joe Biden’s presidential campaign crashed and burned in 1988 after he borrowed from a British statesman’s speech.

    But Biden was a candidate. Melania isn’t, so I think this will soon blow over.

    But it was striking that the morning after the RNC filled primetime TV with blistering attacks on Hillary Clinton, the chattering class was talking more about Melania’s moment, even on the Fox News channel.

    Rule one of a good convention: Don’t step on your message.

    Time to vote — already?

    I had an interesting moment this morning with Rob Gleason, the state chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, when I brought up the little-known fact that the actual nominating vote for Trump is supposed to happen at tonight’s session.

    In fact, Gleason himself didn’t know.

    It came up when I asked him how, exactly, did he know how to apportion the state’s 71 votes when the roll call comes from the chair — do the state’s delegates have a meeting? Is there a secret ballot? A Facebook page?

    “We’ll probably do a caucus,” he said, “because I’m not exactly sure when the nomination is going to be.”

    When I said the RNC materials listed it for today, he said he’d talk to his staff and see what’s what.

    It’s kind interesting, because most of Pennsylvania’s delegates are unbound, though Trump is by far the favorite of the delegation. I wondered if someone could cast a vote for John Kasich or Ted Cruz, whose names will not be placed in nomination. Sure can, Gleason said.

    One more thing: If you watch on TV, you’ll notice the Pennsylvania delegation is seated up front on the convention floor, to the right of the podium (some states are in banked spectator seats). It’s a choice spot.

    Right behind Pennsylvania is the Ohio section, whose delegates are fully committed to their governor, Kasich, who’s not attending.

    They aren’t exactly leading the arena in standing ovations so far.

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