Sen. Mike Lee helps lead effort at GOP convention to stop Trump

Delegates react as some delegates call for a roll call vote on the adoption of the rules during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. | (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill), St. George News

CLEVELAND (AP) — Republicans cast Donald Trump as the right man for turbulent times as they opened their presidential convention Monday against a backdrop of unsettling summer violence and deep discontent within their own party.

Tumult broke out on the convention floor after party officials adopted rules by a shouted voice vote, a move aimed at blunting anti-Trump forces seeking to derail the presumptive nominee. Delegates erupted in competing chants in a televised dispute Republican leaders had hoped to avoid.

“I have no idea what’s going on right now. This is surreal,” said Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who had helped lead the efforts to force a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules.

Republican leaders hope the convention centers instead on the glue that does unite the party’s factions: disdain for Hillary Clinton. Convention speakers planned to relentlessly paint the presumptive Democratic nominee as entrenched in a system that fails to keep Americans safe.

“Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted. Her judgment and character are not suited to be sitting in the most powerful office in the world,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, according to excerpts of her speech released in advanced.

While safety and security was the focus of Monday’s opening session, Trump was also trying to shore up Republican unity, in part by assuring party leaders and voters alike that there’s a kinder, gentler side to what many see as merely a brash businessman. Trump’s family is playing a starring role, beginning Monday with an evening speech by his wife, Melania Trump, who has kept a low profile throughout the campaign.

In a surprise, Trump announced he would come to Cleveland and go onstage on opening night to introduce her.

Trump supporters Kay Kellogg Katz, left, and Gena Gore from Monroe, La., cheer during first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. | AP Photo/Matt Rourke, St. George News
Trump supporters Kay Kellogg Katz, left, and Gena Gore from Monroe, La., cheer during first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. | AP Photo/Matt Rourke, St. George News

The convention comes amid a wrenching period of violence and unrest, both in the United States and around the world. On the eve of the opening, three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the city where a black man was killed by police two weeks ago.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus welcomed delegates with a brief acknowledgement of the “troubling times” swirling outside. The chairman called for a moment of silence out of respect for “genuine heroes” in law enforcement.

“Our nation grieves when we see these awful killings,” he said.

In a matter of weeks, Americans have seen deadly police shootings, a shocking ambush of police in Texas and escalating racial tensions, not to mention a failed coup in Turkey and gruesome Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.

Trump has seized on the instability, casting recent events as a direct result of failed leadership by President Barack Obama and by Clinton, who spent four years in the administration as secretary of state. But Trump has been vague about how he would put the nation on a different course, offering virtually no details of his policy prescriptions despite repeated vows to be tough.

Campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Trump would “eventually” outline policy specifics but not at the convention.

Clinton, during remarks Monday at the NAACP’s annual convention, said there was no justification for directing violence at law enforcement.

“As president, I will bring the full weight of the law to bear in making sure those who kill police officers are brought to justice,” she said.

Clinton was expected to be a frequent target of the eclectic group of lawmakers, military service members and entertainers headlining opening night of the convention. They include Ernst of Iowa and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, actor Scott Baio and Willie Robertson, star of Duck Dynasty, as well as immigration advocates and a Marine who fought in the Benghazi attack that occurred during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department.

The line-up of speakers and no-shows for the four-night convention was a visual representation of Trump’s struggles to unify Republicans.

From the party’s former presidents to the host state governor, many leaders were staying away from the convention stage, or Cleveland altogether, wary of being linked to a man whose proposals and temperament have sparked an identity crisis within the GOP.

Trump’s team insists that by the end of the week, Republicans will plunge into the general election campaign united in their mission to defeat Clinton. But campaign officials undermined their own effort Monday by picking a fight with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is not attending the convention and has yet to endorse Trump.

Manafort called Kasich “petulant” and said the governor was “embarrassing” his party in his home state.

Even some of those participating in the convention seemed to be avoiding their party’s nominee. When House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke to Wisconsin delegates Monday morning, he made no mention of Trump in his remarks.

Ryan, asked at a later event whether Trump was really a conservative, said: “Define conservative; he’s not my kind of conservative.”

The summer disturbances had tensions running high outside the heavily secured convention site in Cleveland.

Hundreds of Trump supporters and opponents held rallies a half-mile apart, with a few of the Trump supporters openly carrying guns as allowed under Ohio law. The president of the police union had asked Kasich to suspend the law allowing gun owners to carry firearms in plain sight. But Kasich said he didn’t have that authority.

Written by JULIE PACE and ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

AP writers Kathleen Hennessey, Erica Werner and Josh Lederman in Cleveland and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Follow Julie Pace at and Alan Fram at

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • native born new mexican July 18, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Thank You Mike Lee! Somebody needs to at least try to have an impact on this terrible election we have in front of us. Hillary the criminal and Trump the woman chasing bully (among other things) ; what a mess! No one should be forced to vote against their moral convictions. Utah did not vote for Trump in the primary and in my caucus Trump came in a distant last. No Hillary. No Trump. No way!!

    • ladybugavenger July 19, 2016 at 10:54 am

      The woman chasing bully? HaHa! We need a bully President to get things done. To stand up against the evils it takes a bully to fight a bully.

  • Real Life July 18, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Give it up Mike. The people voted against career politicians like you. So you and Mitt need to get over it.

  • Not_So_Much July 19, 2016 at 6:49 am

    I was able to see the event unfold on C-SPAN live. I could not believe what I saw and can only imagine what was happening behind the scenes. The questions we should be asking is why wouldn’t the trump/establishment allow a roll call vote so all could be a participant in the process? What were they afraid would happen? Judging by what I saw and heard the trump/establishment would have stayed in control (?) but a large portion of the delegates could have been shown the respect THEY DESERVE simply by allowing a roll call vote on the rules. It’s very unlikely that enough of the 10 or 11 state delegations dropped their petitions for the roll call vote without significant dirty deeds imposed by trumps troops.

    These heavy handed and unnecessary tactics are one more nail in the coffin of the GOP. Consider that one of the major items the ‘protesters’ wanted was to have all primaries closed to keep those who would simply want to block a candidate by crossing over at the primary and then voting for the democrat party in the general election. Does Mike Lee want the donald as the nominee? I doubt it, but like it or not, at this point trump has enough support to impose his will on the party. How he got there exactly may well take a long time to unravel. I have hope that the whole truth comes out sooner rather than later.

  • radioviking July 19, 2016 at 7:48 am

    RIP Republican Party
    The party which imploded on itself…

    • great success July 19, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Couldn’t have said it better! Mike Lee and similar individuals are a dying breed. I’d love to see him lose this November, but I don’t think Utah is quite there yet. The holes and discrepancies that exist in White, Male-dominant, Christian ideologies (majority rule for so long in US) are finally getting challenged!

  • Wolverine July 19, 2016 at 7:52 am

    And so the implosion begins. I kind of thought this would happen when the other candidates (R) were falling off left and right, and no one in the group was able to stand up to Trump’s bullying and keep sounding intelligent. So the (D) will most likely win this one. A weak candidate pool is the failure of the party to find someone that appeals to most voters. Personally, I think if you’re pandering to your Left or Right group too much, you lose out on the people (the majority of people) that are not Far Left or Far Right. I don’t love either candidate, and the day of the election will be tough for many of us that are “somewhere in the middle”. It’s a shame, it’s just a shame.

    • great success July 19, 2016 at 10:49 am

      Personally, I think if you’re pandering to your Left or Right group too much, you lose out on the people (the majority of people) that are not Far Left or Far Right. I don’t love either candidate, and the day of the election will be tough for many of us that are “somewhere in the middle”. It’s a shame, it’s just a shame.

      Excellent point Wolverine. I think you hit the nail right on the head in describing this election.

  • Lastdays July 19, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Actually Sen. Lee and others have a good case here. In the states that had an open primary, Trump won. The states that had a closed “Republican Only”, Cruz or someone else won.
    So the reality is, Trump is not the most popular candidate for the Republican party. If delegates at the convention were to vote their way, Trump would probably not win.
    As much as I try to believe Trump is in it to win it, I also believe he is going to throw the election and give Presidency to Hillary.

  • digger July 19, 2016 at 9:40 am

    who Cares? Voting Independent!

  • Bob July 19, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    trump has been an absolute media darling for the last 2 years. Seems every time i looked at the news there would be the red-faced comb over railing on about something and making lots of noise. A person doesn’t get this much free media without some very powerful backers, and which little clique owns the media do ya think?… meh, it all looks like a staged controlled op to me. Whether it’s hitlery or trump… the agendas never seem to change.

    • .... July 20, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Your agenda never changes all you ever do is come here so you can attack the LDS church and it members….you’re all blah blah blah blah blah your agenda never changes

  • Utahguns July 19, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    It’s politicians like Lee that the public is tired of.
    Mr. Lee, step side and let the men do the work.

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