A surprise start to the Republican National Convention. Its principle goal is to unify the party. But a pro-forma adoption of the party platform and convention rules turned boisterous over a challenge that could telegraph a less than smoothly choreographed coronation of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump. NJTV News Correspondent David Cruz is in Cleveland. He spoke with Anchor Mary Alice Williams.
Williams: David, what can you tell us?
Cruz: Hi, Mary Alice and greetings from Cleveland, Ohio. We are on the floor of the Quiken Loans Center where things are pretty quiet right about now, but within the past hour this place was kind of thrown into pandemonium. What happened was the rules committee and the platform committee were meeting today — that’s generally what happens on the first day — and as they got to the rules there was a move to change the rules, amend the rules so that some of the delegates would be freed to vote their conscience. And so the effort was to get this to a roll call vote. And it appeared that there was going to be a roll call vote, which would have been a victory for the “Dump Trump” movement, but then after that roll call vote got started, it suddenly got stopped and people were walking out and there was chants of “USA” and “Call the roll” and they battled it out and ultimately those who were challenging Trump lost this round. So now they’re on a break and this evening there will be more speeches. Law and order is the theme tonight. Make America Safe Again is the theme. And there will be lots of talk about Benghazi. Sen. Jeff Sessions is going to speak, Rudy Giuliani — former New York City mayor and presidential candidate — will also speak, as will be the future or the potential Republican nominee’s wife, Melania, who will address this group today as well.
Williams: Gov. Christie heads up Trump’s transition team and that’s a big job. He’ll take center stage tomorrow night with a speech that he says is not a keynote. But he’s already hard at work, right? What can you tell us?
Cruz: Yeah, we are staying about 25 minutes from downtown Cleveland where the arena is and most of the New Jersey delegation is there as well. And those folks arrived yesterday. They were greeted by a reception hosted by Gov. Chris Christie. We were not invited, nor were we allowed to come in to watch the speech, but we got an opportunity to speak to him afterwards:
Cruz: The world is obsessed about what your standing is at this convention. Didn’t get the vice presidency, didn’t get a great speaking slot…
Christie: Didn’t get a great speaking slot? I’m speaking in prime time on Tuesday night. You know, listen. Only one person gets the vice presidency so I was honored to be considered. I’m chairman of the transition, so my standing at the convention is pretty good so I think there’s probably thousands of other people who would like to have my standing so I’m just fine.
Cruz: Are you disappointed about the VP slot?
Christie: Listen, as I said in the interview I did on Thursday, of course you’re disappointed. I don’t ever get into anything that I don’t want to win. So when you’re not picked of course it’s disappointing. I’ve been through this parade before and I realize that it’s like getting hit by lightning, so it didn’t happen, that’s fine. I mean, like I said in the interview I gave on Thursday, before I knew what was going to happen, you get disappointed, you take a deep breath and you get ready for tomorrow. And here I am and I’ll be speaking Tuesday night and I’m running the transition. I have more things to do this week than I have time to do them so it’s just the way it goes. I would not trade the experience for anything.
Cruz: What do you think about the events in Baton Rogue and does this party have a responsibility to send a message to the American people?
Christie: I think anybody who’s a leader has a responsibility, David, it’s not just our party. This is what I’ve been talking about all along. These are extraordinarily disturbing times and the fact that you have people so angry and acting out in violence in all different types of directions, and whether you’re talking about here or you see the events in Turkey, the events in Nice, there’s violence breaking out all over the world and American leadership is the only thing that can bring a sense of calm and stability and security, both inside our nation and around the world. As far as Baton Rogue in particular, you have to just have your heart go out to the families of those police officers that were murdered and the ones who were wounded. It’s just an unacceptable thing to be going on in our country. We need to make sure that we not only speak directly and honestly about this, but that we take the really tough action that needs to be taken so that people know that kind of stuff is not accepted.
Cruz: Did the president send a good message today?
Christie: I didn’t hear him today. I’m sorry. I didn’t hear him.
Cruz: Did you feel a little bit like you got dashed a little bit at the end there? Particularly this talk about the Kushner kid?
Christie: The bottom line is that, like I said, it’s a one vote election. One vote elections are tough, you know, so that’s all. Again, I wasn’t out looking for it. I was honored to be considered and obviously I was considered pretty deeply into the game. Believe me there’s lots of other people around the country who would have loved to have been considered and weren’t.
Cruz: What about Jersey stuff? Are you on top of that stuff right now?
Christie: Sure. Yeah, I mean, I met with the Senate president last week…
Cruz: He said he gave you a proposal.
Christie: He did. It was ridiculous and I rejected it. So where are we? Where we are, David, is that myself and the speaker have passed a bipartisan plan to fund the Transportation Trust Fund and to cut the sales tax significantly for the people of New Jersey. The Senate president needs to come along with the plan and what he proposed to me the other day was unacceptable and he knows it. In fact, if you read the clips, he predicted it would be unacceptable before he presented it, so that kind of is a ridiculous thing to have even done. But I met with him and, you know, when I get back I’ll meet with him again if he’s not in Philadelphia, and if he is it’ll be his choice.
Cruz: So the pundits say he had a terrible, very bad week. But if there is a Trump presidency, most of that cabinet is going to be vetted and chosen by Chris Christie, so it’s not like he’s not doing anything here this week. Mary Alice, we’ll throw it back to you.
Williams: Thanks, David.