**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: How Trump can still save his convention - Power Play: What’s the point of the Never Trumps? - Audible: crying over you - Maybe he was sunburnt
HOW TRUMP CAN STILL SAVE HIS CONVENTION
CLEVELAND – How will Donald Trump respond to the turmoil at his nominating convention?
The answer to that question may well determine whether or not he is a viable contender in the general election. And we get an indication of how Trump might turn in his acceptance speech tonight by the way his campaign handled Sen. Ted Cruz’s speech.
Cruz gave Team Trump multiple hours’ notice that the Texas senator would not be explicitly endorsing the Republican nominee and would instead urge Americans to “vote their conscience.”
Trump and his campaign had a choice to make. They could’ve refused Cruz knowing that he likely would bolt and go public about the clampdown. And since Cruz said nothing unflattering about Trump and congratulated his former foe on winning the nomination, the Texan would’ve looked like the victim.
Instead, the campaign opted to let Cruz talk, but put the stink on it.
Looking at the stony, sullen faces in the Trump family box as Cruz went through the rah-rah opening of his speech, it was clear that they knew what was coming. And given the reportedly coordinated effort by party and Trump operatives to bring down a chorus of boos when Cruz hit his “conscience” line, it was clear that the Trumps wanted to turn the snub into a full-fledged fight.
Cruz elaborated on his position in a breakfast speech to the Texas delegation today, making clear that he might end up voting for Trump. But he also doubled down on his rejection of the idea of party unity for its own sake.
Trump’s initial response and that of his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, was good. Deescalating the situation and saying it was “fine” with Cruz to do his own thing. Pence even offered sympathy for the candidate who had endured a brusing primary election. But as time went on, Trump’s attitude turned as he began attacking Cruz on Twitter and, rather than starving the story of oxygen, fanned the flames. Matters were made worse with a seemingly tossed off interview with the NYT in which Trump took provocative positions about NATO, Russia and the failed coup attempt in Turkey.
This is a too-familiar position for Republicans this year. The new stories of the day are about acrimonious infighting, including personal attacks, and efforts to explain away radically incongruent positions taken by Trump.
Whether Cruz’s history-making move casts him as a sore loser or a visionary will depend on whether Trump wins or loses. Those are questions that won’t’ be answered until November and really, 2020.
So let’s leave aside Cruz’s future for a time of more leisure. What matters today is whether Trump can save this convention with a great speech tonight.
If there is any of the negative energy that has dominated the primary cycle in his remarks tonight it would be an enormous mistake. Even gloating or gloriying would be an error. Magnanimity and grace are the necessary ingredients for the part of his speech in which he is talking to his own party.
But the crucial test for Trump is whether he can demonstrate to skeptical independents and even some Democrats that he is steady, fair and forward looking. After a convention marked by unforced errors and fratricidal fighting Trump would be well served by not just grace notes but also a presence of unruffled command.
Trump is underwhelmed when he has tried to be a prompter-bound disciplined candidate. And for the most important speech of his career so far he needs to do better than just not mess up.
[Today’s speaker lineup: Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Gov. Mary Fallin, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Jerry Falwell Jr., and Ivanka Trump who is set to introduce her father the Republican nominee Donald Trump.]
TIME OUT: FIRST CLASS FLIGHT
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: “Although Cleveland seemed unimpressed by the first flight of a heavier-than-air machine by two Ohioans from Dayton, Orville and Wilbur Wright, the city played an important role in the early development of the airplane. Prior to World War I, the skies were the domain of daredevils flying variations on the ‘Wright Flyer,’ a biplane consisting of double wings supported by wire struts and rods, fabric-covered fuselage with open cockpit, and simple piston engine. One such barnstorming pilot was itinerant Paul Beck, who in 1912 delivered the first official airmail souvenir postcards to residents on farms within a radius of several miles of Cleveland.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions
Average of national presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +3.8 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.8
POWER PLAY: WHAT’S THE POINT OF THE NEVER TRUMPS?
The RNC wraps up today and Donald Trump is officially the party’s nominee, but that doesn’t mean the Never Trump movement is dead. Having been defeated on the convention floor and failed to stop the nomination from going forward, what’s the point of the movement continuing on? Two of the Never Trump movement’s voices Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg explain their thoughts to Chris Stirewalt on the final day of the convention here in Cleveland. WATCH HERE.
Security escorts Heidi Cruz out of RNC after Trump supporters target her - The Hill
David Drucker talked to a Cruz adviser who said Trump was aware of non-endorsement in advance - WashEx
Trump threatens ghost writer for “The Art of the Deal” - New Yorker
AUDIBLE: CRYING OVER YOU
“I wasn’t going to let those SOBs turn Lyin’ Ted into Cryin’ Ted.” – Sen. Ted Cruz talking to supporters of his presidential campaign and apologizing for leaving his concession speech after the Indiana primary without thanking everyone.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Mudpuppy in a sandpit? You are like Dennis Miller with your obscure references, and I like it! Keep up the good work, and I look forward to taking in the podcast. You could not have done better than Dana Perino as a co-host.” – Jim Tansey, Coralville, Iowa
MAYBE HE WAS SUNBURNT
9news: “Polish beachgoers scrambled after a wild boar emerged from the ocean and began attacking people as they lay in the sun. Video posted to YouTube on Sunday shows sunbathers looking out into the waves at Karwia Beach on the Baltic Sea as the giant pig swims ashore. The moment it hits land the boar breaks out into a sprint towards higher ground. But when it realises it has been penned in by a fence the frightened and angry boar starts to ram people as they lie on their beachtowels…Eventually a group of men chased the boar back into the woods.”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a crowd of this size calling for the other side’s presidential candidate to be jailed.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.