The big speech – did Donald Trump deliver?

    Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump

    Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump

    He didn’t hurt himself, but he didn’t hit a homer either.

    I was at the arena when Trump gave his hourlong-plus address, and there was plenty of whoopin’ and hollerin’ — always is.

    To gauge the reaction of the Pennsylvania delegates I’ve been embedded with, I figured I’d get a better read by just listening to their chatter rather than asking them directly. So on the bus back to the hotel and at a late reception, I kept quiet and listened, and didn’t hear much. They didn’t seem particularly jazzed by the speech.

    My own take is that when Trump uses a tele-prompter, he loses his mojo. Instead of his usual improv act, he shouted every sentence in a slow cadence that extended the evening and sapped his energy.

    I understand why they didn’t want him out there riffing, but still.

    A GOP ready to fight?

    The question hanging over the week has been whether in Pennsylvania, like everywhere else, Republicans are ready to unite around their candidate. They’re not. But they are united in their fear of and contempt for Hillary Clinton, which may be functionally the same thing.

    Republican elected officials in re-election battles are going to remain wary. Consider their calculus: I endorse the guy now, and who knows what he’ll blurt in three weeks that will make my life a living hell. So they’ll keep their distance for a while, and talk about the importance of defeating Clinton.But others are coming around.

    On the convention floor last night I chatted with Bob Asher of Montgomery County. He’s the kind of insider every Republican candidate in the state would love to have on his team — a member of the Republican National Committee, and a proven fundraiser. He was a John Kasich guy in the primaries, and he was no fan of Trump’s when Kasich dropped out.

    But, he told me, Trump won fair and square, and it’s time to rally around the candidate.

    “Whether you like him, you don’t like him — forget it, all right? And let’s get on with it. That’s where I am,” he said. He also told me he’s doing his thing.

    “I’ve finally agreed to host a fundraiser for Mr. Trump and Gov. Pence in September,” Asher said. “It’s at the Union League, and our goal is to raise a million dollars.”

    He said he’s recruiting several people to act as hosts who will commit to raising or giving $100,000 to the Trump Victory Fund. “I’m raising mine,” he said with a smile. “I’m not giving it.”

    That’s the kind of regional fundraising network any other serious candidate would have developed months ago, but as Asher said, “this campaign is just different.”

    Stepping on the message

    It’s not a revelation to say that this convention hasn’t been deftly managed. There was the Melania plagiarism flap, and the unfathomable decision to give Ted Cruz a free shot in prime time, creating a controversy that overshadowed the vice presidential acceptance speech.

    But it’s fun to observe the smaller mis-steps. NPR’s Mara Liasson noted last night that after Trump made dozens of promises in his speech, they played “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in the arena.

    And there was the moment after we saw a touching video featuring women from the Trump organization talking about how kind, compassionate and respectful Trump is toward women.

    Right after that, the band struck up ACDC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”

    Read the lyrics. Oops.

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