Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump to Accept Nomination Tonight; Coverage of the Republican Convention. Aired 8-8:30p ET

Aired July 21, 2016 - 20:00   ET


SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: We must give them the tools and the support they need to do their jobs. The highest levels of government must have our backs as they risk their lives every single day to perform their jobs and protect our citizens. As someone who for 35 years has been a top law enforcement official, living and working on both sides of the border, I can tell you firsthand about the dangers of illegal immigration and drugs.

[20:00:08] We have terrorists coming over our border, infiltrating our communities and causing massive destruction and mayhem. We have criminals penetrating our weak border security system and committing serious crime.

I am supporting Donald Trump because he is a leader.


He produces results. He's the only candidate for president ready to get tough in order to protect Americans.


I have fought on the front lines to prevent illegal immigration, and I know Donald Trump will stand with me and other proud Americans to secure our border.


Donald Trump will build the wall.

AUDIENCE: Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!

ARPAIO: And restore -- restore law and order and keep drugs and illegal immigrants from entering into our country.


You know, I will never forget Donald Trump and what he did for my wife. I have been married to Ava for 59 years, and --


And during the campaign she was diagnosed with cancer. Just before going on national TV, Donald Trump called my wife and talked to her for five minutes.

His subsequent trips, he never forgot to think of my wife and call her. He did not have to get my support through his kindness to my wife because I was already hooked.


Let's elect a leader who will stand up for America. And protect our border and supports law enforcement and the military.


And in doing so, unite our country.


Let's elect Donald Trump.


Thank you.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This final night of the Republican convention starts off with two very strong statements of support for Donald Trump, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Sheriff Joe Arpaio conservatives. They made no doubt about it. They want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States.

We have a special guest.


We have with us the campaign chairman for the Trump for president campaign, Mr. Paul Manafort, who is here.

Thank you for stopping by. We appreciate it. Congratulations on making it to this night.


TAPPER: What can we expect tonight? I was talking to Senator Tom Cotton earlier tonight. He's a supporter, and he say that he hopes that Mr. Trump will be magnanimous and inspire the country.

Will he do that?

MANAFORT: Well, I think he's going to be inspired tonight. The speech is a very personal speech. He's been involved in all of the details of the speech and he had an idea of what he wanted to say, and I think the final product turned out exactly the way he wanted to say it. So he's excited about presenting it tonight.

TAPPER: Is there going to be a part in the speech where he reaches out to any skeptics that might be here. There are obviously supporters of Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, et cetera, people who are not necessarily fully sold yet?

MANAFORT: I think this convention is fully sold, and I think the Republican Party is coming together.

You know, Donald Trump felt that every one of the candidates who ran for president should have an opportunity to speak at this convention, and he invited all of them to speak and asked nothing back in return. But their service as candidates was enough and you had many candidates step forward and speak at this convention and indicate their support for him. You've seen the congressional Republicans from the House and Senate come together. You've seen governors come together.

So, the party is united. We feel that going into the general election tonight, his speech tonight will speak to the nation and not to the Republican Party. The prior process is over, he's the nominee, he won by record numbers, and now, he's focusing on the broader message to America.

[20:05:02] TAPPER: And that's the question, I think, because I spoke with a Republican official today who was very worried. He has polling indicating that married white women which is a group that Republicans typically win, married white women right now are with Hillary Clinton and not with Donald Trump and this is a group that can swing back and forth and still a lifetime to go. But there are skeptics out there.

Is he going to change his message to try to appeal to these undecided voters and skeptical voters?

MANAFORT: His message is appealing to the undecided voters. The number one issue in America today is jobs. Number two issue is security. Both of those issues Donald Trump has a very strong record on.

And very clearly, Hillary Clinton has been a part of the establishment for the last 25 years. People want change. They're blaming Washington for the gridlock and they're blaming the establishment for creating high taxes and having jobs lead the country, and they're very worried about not only terrorists coming into this country, but their own neighborhood, as well. Donald Trump has been speaking to them, and we think the issue agenda clearly sets up well against Hillary Clinton and tonight he'll be talking about those contrasts.

TAPPER: One of the things we heard in the Republican convention has been about crime in America. Now, crime obviously, violent crime, horrific and just empirically according to FBI statistics and crime rates have been going down for decades. How can Republicans make the argument that somehow it's more dangerous today when the facts don't back that up?

MANAFORT: People don't feel safe in their neighborhoods. I'm not sure what statistics that you're talking about. But I know for a fact --

TAPPER: The FBI statistics. MANAFORT: Well, the FBI is certainly suspect these days after what

they just did with Hillary Clinton. But as far as crime in the neighborhoods, people don't feel safe. They're not safe in their neighborhoods. And the crime that you see is because no one feels as if the system is protecting their interest.

We think it's an issue that's contrasted very strongly with what Obama has done in the White House and what Clinton stands for and we'll be talking about tonight.

TAPPER: I wasn't talking about feelings, I was just talking about the facts of actual violent crime.

But let me ask you, because you've talked about, when Richard Nixon ran as a law and order candidate very successfully in '68 and '72, are we going to hear that kind of tone and tenor on the subject of crime?

MANAFORT: I think you're going to hear Donald Trump's version and not Richard Nixon.

TAPPER: Those themes, I mean.

MANAFORT: The theme of fear in the neighborhoods and of terrorism and those are themes generic to today. Donald Trump will be talking about today's context and not in '68 and 1980 or anything else.

TAPPER: You also know that a concern among Republican voters have been reaching out to Latino voters and according to recent polls, that is an area where Trump is struggling. When George W. Bush ran for president there was a Latino-themed evening and that has certainly not been the case here.

What are you going to do either tonight in the speech or going forward to try to reach out to Latino voters?

MANAFORT: We've now moved into the stage of the campaign where national polls aren't what's important anymore, it's the state polls, and when you look at the important battleground states and you look at the composition of the support that Donald Trump has, his numbers of the Hispanic votes is much higher than the national level.

So, we're not looking at national polls anymore. We'll look at it state by state. We feel that he will exceed the numbers in Hispanic community that he has to get in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, Florida. And we're confident that as the campaign progresses, and the issues important to the Hispanic communities are issues that contrast nicely for us.

TAPPER: Let me bring in Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: You know, Paul, the Cruz speech last night, how was Donald Trump personally impacted and you spoke to him I'm sure throughout the day.

MANAFORT: He was disappointed it. I mean, he was disappointed by Senator Cruz's presentation and his attitude is he was the one being magnanimous. He invited Senator Cruz to speak and Senator Cruz made a decision that Donald Trump would have done differently. But again, Donald Trump feels the party is uniting around him and he's moved on.

BLITZER: What about this morning when Cruz said you can't expect me to endorse someone who went after my wife, went after my father. This is very personal for him. He made that point this morning.

MANAFORT: Again, as far as we're concerned, we are no longer involved in the primary against Senator Cruz. We're talking about the general election and Donald Trump invited Cruz to speak at the convention and he's moved on.

BLITZER: The introduction tonight that Donald Trump will get from his daughter, tell us a little bit about what we should anticipate.

MANAFORT: Donald Trump is very proud of his children and each night he's watched his wife and his daughter Tiffany and Donald and Eric talk to the American people, and he's proud of Ivanka, too, and it's going to be a very emotional moment.

TAPPER: Can you shed more light on this "New York Times" interview that Mr. Trump gave in which there were two things that I think were controversial? One was the suggestion that he wouldn't necessarily uphold NATO obligations and one of the obligations to our NATO ally that if one is attacked and all is attacked.

[20:10:01] I'll get to the second first, but if I could talk about that, because it seemed as though he was saying, maybe I will, maybe I won't.

MANAFORT: Donald Trump said as recently as several months ago that as far as he's concerned, he didn't think NATO was living in the modern times. It needed to update its mission and he also said that the NATO members have got to pay their fair share. What he was talking about in "The New York Times" is a part of that yesterday.

TAPPER: But if the NATO members don't pay their fair share and I understand many, many people including President Obama who shared the view that NATO members need to kick in and there is this obligation leading up to 2 percent at the very least in term of dues and contributions. But is he saying that if they don't do that, the United States won't feel obligated to uphold the NATO treaty?

MANAFORT: The difference between Donald Trump and President Obama is very stark. President Obama drew a line in the sand on Syria. He's saying that NATO members should meet their obligations, but there's no impact beyond his words. Donald Trump is the leader who when he says something, he means it, and that leadership will have an effect on the world and it will make it a safer place. It will get NATO engaged the way they need to be engaged and that's what he's talking about.

TAPPER: One other thing I thought was striking in that interview is normally we hear Republican presidents talk about the notion of American exceptionalism, shining city on the hill, Ronald Reagan said, Democratic presidents, including John F. Kennedy has said similar things, talking about America as a moral and ethnical exemplar in the world.

But Donald Trump said something very differently that the United States has no right to lecture Turkey and President Erdogan there when he is oppressing his people because look at us and what we're going through, meaning some police officers have been killed tragically.

MANAFORT: Well, there is a difference between nation building and what Donald Trump was talking about making United States (INAUDIBLE) and what he thinks is part of the problem that's the cause of the world today and having a firm role in leadership in the world. Donald Trump will be a strong leader. Donald Trump will make it clear where America stands and through his leadership, the world will be a safer place.

President Obama has not been very strong. The world doesn't respect the United States anymore and that lack of leadership is what's caused the crisis in the world.

BLITZER: I know you have to run and you have a lot of stuff coming up tonight. Paul Manafort, thanks very much for coming.

MANAFORT: Thanks, Wolf.

TAPPER: Good to see you. Good luck tonight.

MANAFORT: Thank you.

BLITZER: Anderson, over to you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, Jake, thanks very much.

Here with our panel and the next speaker is Brock Mealer, motivational speaker, small businessman from Ohio and we heard Paul Manafort about what to expect from Donald Trump tonight.

I mean, the stakes for Donald Trump are extraordinarily high and he still has a long way to go and tonight is a critical first step.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this is the opportunity that you get as a candidate to speak to the largest audience that you'll be able to address between now and the election other than in debates when you don't have a clear shot. So, this is a very important night for Donald Trump and one of the questions is, does he reach out and try to broaden his constituency or is he going to double down on the theory that there are enough votes to respond to immigration, to law and order and so on that he can win a general election that way?

COOPER: As a Trump supporter, what do you want to hear from the candidate? Do you want to hear basically the issues that got him here in the first place building a wall?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. I want to hear him talk about being tough and getting America back to safety. But I also want to hear about compassion all of the way around. You mentioned the LGB community and we had what happened in Orlando, I hope he'd say something about that.

I think he should talk about the kind of people he reaches out when it comes to (INAUDIBLE) Pennsylvania. People who are not famous and not well known and they don't live in the New York-Washington corridor, and to a large degree I think they feel left out of the national conversation and he has appealed to them and I think that's helped him.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know what, Jerry Falwell Jr., just a moment ago called Trump the blue collar billionaire, and I think that if he wants to broaden his -- his base, he should as Jeffrey is saying talk about the issues that will appeal to those Americans who are undecided in areas like the Rust Belt where he believes he has an opportunity to win some states.

LORD: (INAUDIBLE) the phrase you just used, the Rust Belt, this is a phrase that's been around for decades and no one stopped to think why are we using it in the first place. How do these places get to be rustic? And that's what he addresses it with the trade issue and why he's got support.

COOPER: One of the things Jake was asking Paul Manafort about and one of the lines that we know he'll talk about is about crime and fear. Paul Manafort saying people, whatever the FBI statistics, crime has actually been going down for quite some time now. It's at a very low level compared to what it once was. Paul Manafort says, well, people don't feel that way and I don't trust the FBI statistic.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I do think the questions of safety and security whether it's from crime or police violence and terrorism and those are hot issues and you got to figure out what your response to that is going to be.

[20:15:04] But I was surprised to hear Manafort pooh-poohed his standing with the Latino community. You had Sheriff Joe Arpaio out there, and the stuff he said was so heartbreaking and he described the undocumented population as only criminal.

The reality is the entire agriculture sector of America is populated by people who do not have papers. You ate food today touched by the hands of undocumented workers. Our service sector is overwhelming people who are undocumented. You've got somebody in the hospital, their bed pan may have been changed today by somebody without papers. Silicon Valley has undocumented people. The apps you use today.

And to tell the entire country that your candidate's view of undocumented people is only that they're criminals and that they are dangerous, I just think is so heartbreaking and if he feels differently, he should say something different because Sheriff Joe did a terrible disservice to the country tonight.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He has consistently said something different, and I know that the Democrats and the left like to balkanize society into groups, you have the Latinos, you have the blacks, you have the whites, they balkanize society. But what Donald Trump is going to say tonight, according to "The New

York Times", is that he's a champion of the forgotten. There is a sense of worry in this country, a sense of fear that transcends race and transcends socioeconomic status. It is about feeling secure in your home economically from a security perspective and when we heard Mark Burns (ph) say all lives matter has been a consistent theme coming out of this convention. We need to unite and the themes of safety and the economy and we're going to hear Donald Trump.

JONES: I didn't hear that from Sheriff Joe. I didn't hear that from Sheriff Joe.


S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We're expecting Trump's policies to sound much different than we've heard them sound in this campaign tonight. I assume he'll hit the same notes. What I am interested in is tone.

We know he's reading off the teleprompter tonight. That's not his favorite thing to do. As Ted Cruz pointed out yesterday, the party is still divided and despite some good efforts at uniting, there are still Ted Cruz voters out there. Is Donald Trump going to get on stage and say I did it my way and sort of rub salt in the wounds and exploit that division, or is he going to come out magnanimously and say, I want all of you to come aboard, Ted did a great job and let's move on now?

TAPPER: Michael?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think thus far there have been two conventions here. Monday and Tuesday night versus what we saw last night, the tonality of Monday and Tuesday night may have appeased this base and I don't think it plays in the country at large.

I want to see to whom is he speaking tonight, these folks or the folks at home?

COOPER: You're watching a special edition of AC360.

Brock Mealer is a motivational speaker small businessman from Ohio. In 2007, he was severely in a car accident that killed his father and his brother's girlfriend. His brother Elliott Mealer actually rescued him from the wreckage. He wasn't given much of a chance of ever walking again. We will see him tonight out on this stage. Obviously, this is someone who Donald Trump wanted to come out here and address this crowd.

Do we know, Nia, much about Ivanka Trump's introduction?

In fact, we are getting Brock Mealer just coming out now. Let's listen.

ANNOUNCER: Please welcome, Brock Mealer.

BROCK MEALER, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: Christmas Eve 2007, my parents, my younger brother Elliott, his girlfriend Hollis, and I were driving to church. Out of nowhere, a car ran a stop sign crashing into us. My father, my hero, David Paul Mealer and Hollis died that night.

I endured eight and a half hours of surgery. When I awoke the surgeon came into my room with more devastating news. My spinal cord damage was about the worse she had ever seen. She said that I would likely never walk again, and that even 1 percent chance of overly optimistic.

But that 1 percent was all I need. Through it all I had faith in Jesus Christ --


I believed in myself and strived to make that 1 percent a reality. Truthfully, God made that 1 percent a reality. His will, not mine.

[20:20:02] He blessed me with football coaches, and gave me a fighting chance. His blessings enabled me to graduate from the Ohio State University.


And I went on -- I went on to be cheered by University of Michigan fans as I led the Wolverines on to the field. He blessed me with my beautiful wife Haley. We walk down the aisle together. He gave me countless other blessings.

This very moment for me is a testament to God working all things for the good. And guess who else was told that he had a 1 percent chance?

A company that analyzes polling data for CNN predicted last year that Donald Trump had a 1 percent chance of winning the Republican nomination for president.


Mr. Trump, welcome to the club.


I defied the odds, but I couldn't do it on my own. Donald Trump can't do it alone either. He needs our help and up support. Just as Michigan was willing to adopt the Buckeye and for a cause greater than ourselves, we can united behind Donald Trump to make America one again.


Now I want to turn it over to a fellow Ohio State graduate who really knows how to unite a team, Coach Bobby Knight.



BOBBY KNIGHT, BASKETBALL COACH: I'm proud to be a part of Team Trump, working toward making America the greatest there is. As a coach, my main objective was to win, and I know Donald Trump will always have winning on his mind.



COOPER: Still ahead, what will Donald Trump say tonight in this, the most important speech of his life? We are standing by for the speech that could help determine whether he wins the White House.

And could Ivanka Trump's tonight leave Republicans wishing she were on the ticket?

We'll be right back.


[20:26:17] COOPER: And welcome back to the special edition of AC360, the final night of the Republican convention.

On the stage tonight, Donald Trump with a powerful platform to share his vision for America to work to unite his party and the nation as Republican's choice for president. Coming up we are about to hear from U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, also Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, part of the concerted attempt to reach out to women tonight. Ivanka Trump will also be introducing her father, no doubt also trying to reach out to women voters throughout the country.

A lot to talk about with our panel as we await U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee.

Is it clear? I mean, Ivanka Trump is clearly going to try to reach out and appeal to women as she has throughout this campaign.

BORGER: She is, and I think what she's going to try and do is put a more personal tone here. You know, her brothers talked about their father, the businessman, what he can do for the country and she'll do that, as well, but Ivanka is somebody who always talks about him in a more personal way. Maybe she'll tell a story or two that's been kind of missing from this convention.

The other thing, in addition to talking about women, she's a businesswoman, as you know, a very successful one. She'll probably also talk about the fact that she never support somebody whom she regarded as either a racist or a sexist, and she'll talk about the person she knows growing up as only a child can do, after all.

And she's so popular and she's kind of an enigma to people. We don't hear a lot from her. She just sort of introduces him very often. She's a very well spoken woman, very impressive and I think that's why he wanted her to introduce him.

COOPER: Energy in the room tonight -- I mean, this is what we've come to expect from the convention. It has certainly built up to this night which is probably the most electric night. Everybody wants to be in here tonight to hear Donald Trump.

LORD: Right, this is what conventions are all about in a sub-textural sense, and you're going to have platform fights, rule fights, candidate disagreements, but in the end, this is exactly what you want to see and you're seeing it.

COOPER: U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn, first elected in 2002, the first woman in the state to win a congressional seat in her own right.


And hello to everybody here tonight and to all of you who are watching us at home on iPhones and on Twitter, welcome!


I have a question for you: do you -- do you want to help make America one again?

Let me hear you!


BLACKBURN: All right! You know, we have all had enough of bloated budgets, unkept promises and pointless red lines. We've had enough division and enough heated rhetoric that serves to only drive a wedge between us and our neighbor.

Enough of seeing our 401(k)s get smaller, our bills get bigger, our taxes go up, and our paychecks shrink. In short, the American people have had it! Yes, and they are ready for change! They are ready for someone to take the reins and bring us together.

[20:30:00] There is someone that can get the job done or as Larry the Cable guy would say, "Let's git er done." There's someone who can come in ahead of schedule and the under budget who has read the specs, has seen the bottom line, negotiated the cost and built something to last, a leader who knows that this country is not full of assets to be managed, forgotten or deleted.

Our nation is full of citizens who want a leader who knows to assure route to prosperity, who inspires, who knows that leadership is a hard-fought, verb and not a subject line in an e-mail.

And that is why I am asking all of you to join me tonight in electing Donald Trump as president of the United States.

Donald Trump has the skills required to lead this nation, a diverse nation, and he can help our people achieve greatness. He believes in the American dream because he has lived the American dream.

You know, the desire for greatness is not new. President Lincoln stood right here in this very city 155 years ago with a call for us to bind together or perish apart. Listen to his words. If all do not join now to save the good ship of the union this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another.

And again, we find our nation in desperate need of true leadership, in desperate need of unity.

The last eight years have really been a challenge to our national and our household budgets, to our constitution and to the men and women who give their lives and their sacred honor to protect that constitution and to protect us.

We know that Donald Trump is a leader who has seen challenges. He's learned his lessons, solved problems. He has delivered results. Some of our nation's greatest leaders have been people who have worked in the real world, who know firsthand how cumbersome rules and unnecessary regulations get in the way of greatness.

I want a president who knows that leadership is not as it appears, but is as it performs, who have seen something through from beginning to completion. Who looks at the mundane and sees magnificence. After all, that's the magic of this country, that everyday people with big ideas and big dreams and the drive to complete them not only can they change a skyline, they can change the world.

Leadership is not about lines on a resume. Gender, race, zip code, pedigree, lineage, hurt feelings are not qualifiers for leadership. Leadership is a record of performance and accomplishment and team building. Now that is leadership that you can trust.

We Americans are bound together by the shared desire for faith, family, freedom, hope and opportunity. We want a president who believes that you, not Washington, knows best, who believes that you have the right to pursue your version of the American dream.

[20:35:12] I know you believe. I do, too, that America is on the edge of great and mighty things. We need a President Donald Trump who understands this is about freedom and freedom's causes who will choose to unite us, not divide us.

So let me ask you another question. Are you with me? Are you with Trump/Pence 2016?

All right. Together, we can get the country building, working, see jobs come back, our communities grow and see leaders actually lead. And together with you and with Trump/Pence 2016 we will be great again. We will be one again.

Thank you. God bless.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please give a warm welcome for Governor Mary Fallin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New York loves Oklahoma.

GOV. MARY FALLIN, (R) OKLAHOMA: Oh, Oklahoma loves New York too. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

All right, America. I have a question. Are you ready for change? Me, too.

All right. I grew up in Tecumseh, a small town in Oklahoma. It was one of those all-American towns where everyone watches high school football on Friday nights and neighbors take care of neighbors. In Tecumseh, we understood poverty, but it wasn't a destiny that was inevitable. We were optimistic about our future, and we knew we could succeed with hard work, a good education and faith in God.

There weren't very many opportunities for young women, but we did have a great role model, a woman mayor, my mom. She taught me if I worked hard, I could be anything. And I took that lesson to heart, and eventually became the first female governor of the State of Oklahoma.

You know, in my community there was a sense of optimism and determination that our community and our country could be better for everyone. And even at a time when the shadow of institutional discrimination fell over much of our country, there was no shortage of African-American heroes.

Black Oklahomans like Civil Rights leader, Claire Luper, who was leading sit-ins and successfully integrating schools across our state and winning the fight for respect and opportunity.

So when I look back on my childhood, my America, I don't see a perfect place, but we were united by a simple belief that no matter who you were or where you came from, better days were ahead for America.

Today, I'm afraid we're losing that sense of unity and optimism, not just in towns like Tecumseh, but across this land. Our country is divided, our people are afraid, and our spirits are nearly broken. But we can't lose that hopelessness and have it become the new normal. In America, we won't.

I believe the American people are longing for the American dream where they can just get a fair shake in life and an opportunity to succeed. We must make America one again and restore the confidence and the strength of our nation.

[20:40:03] And it's no secret. Donald Trump is bold, tenacious, courageous, and he's an outspoken leader. And he knows how to create jobs and successful businesses. He has bold ideas, and he speaks truth to power. He is a man who will get this country on the right track, who believes in peace through strength and will protect America against radical Islamic terrorists who seek to destroy and -- our nation.

Our country has united time and time again on our core values of freedom and individual liberty and justice for all people. The principles which made our country great and which it was founded upon, and Donald Trump an apologetically stands for those values.

We are one in our belief that America must address the national debt, not by increasing taxes, but by increasing opportunity. We are one in our belief that we must protect our borders and promote fair trade that puts America's workers first. And we are one in our belief that we must stand with our allies like Israel, a beacon of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. And we are one in our belief that we must respect and honor our military, our veterans and law enforcement who sacrifice, keeps us safe and free. And we are one in our belief that every life is precious, regardless of race or class, including the lives of the unborn children.

And as a party, we don't agree 100 percent on everything. That's OK. We don't have to. As Ronald Reagan once said, "the person who agrees with you 80 percent of a time is a friend and an ally."

We invite every American who believes in these principles and longs for an end to division and wants to make America one again to join us in electing Donald Trump as president of the United States.

Thank you and may God bless you all. God bless America!

COOPER: Coming up, Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur billionaire, the first openly gay man to address a Republican convention since 2000.

Stay with us for more convention coverage including Ivanka Trump's introduction of her father. She'll set the stage for the most important speech he has ever given. We'll be right back.


[20:47:40] COOPER: We are waiting Donald Trump's big speech tonight. His attempt to close perhaps the biggest deal ever capping the Republican convention by accepting the party's presidential nomination, and he, of course, will be introduced by his daughter, Ivanka Trump. We're standing by to hear both of these important speeches on the closing night of his convention.

I want to go to our Dana Bash who's on the convention floor with special guest. Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that's right. I'm here with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. You spoke last night, tonight we're going to have the nominee. From what we have seen and heard, it seems like it's going to be more sort of a little bit dark and Nixonian as opposed to optimistic and Reaganesque? Is that right?

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) FMR HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I don't know yet. No, I don't know yet. First of all, I think Ivanka will do a great job introducing him and will be very positive about her father and what he brings to bear.

I think second that it's very likely that he is going to give us a vision of where he wants to take America. So it probably these three parts, biography and here's why I could be president, problems, here's why we need to change course and then solutions here's what we'll do and my -- that's my guess as having talked to them. They spent a lot of time on the speech and it's a very serious, fairly lengthy speech.

BASH: Is there enough discussion here that would appeal to people who are already are not in his corner, independents, voters who, you know, he will need in order to win the White House?

GINGRICH: Well, I think, you know, modestly to my speech on national security, Mike Pence's speech last night laying out a vision of where we should go. Don Junior did an amazing job, tonight he got a huge response in explaining positive things and I think that the real burden is -- tonight on Trump.

BASH: I've seen a few "Never Trump" buttons being passed around tonight for the very first time.


BASH: I've seen some "Never Trump" buttons being passed around for the first time tonight, not everybody is on board even here, most people are, but not everybody.

GINGRICH: Well I read an article about the fact that there were relatively few demonstrators here because they were all going to Philadelphia.

BASH: What is it?

GINGRICH: So I would guess if you want to look at relative tension, you heard -- you saw last night how fiercely this convention feels about Donald Trump when Cruz acted with this convention.

BASH: Well that was going to be my last question to you. You have said that you had to change your speech on the fly because of the reaction that Ted Cruz had.

[20:50:00] What do you think of his speech?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I changed it because the delegates wanted closure on what I thought was a foolish speech. Trump -- and Cruz sets criteria for voting for president, which only Trump meets and then it doesn't go the next step. And I think for a guy who thinks he's a serious man, it was a remarkably silly pride.

BASH: He doubled down on it this morning.

GINGRICH: I know he did. That's just a sign that Cruz that the Senate has learned to dislike is just sharing himself with the nation.

BASH: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

BASH: Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Dana, thanks very much. Again, waiting upcoming speeches. So, let's have more with our panel.

Again, Ivanka Trump, a major chance for her tonight to reach out to potentially, you know, undecided voters, independents out there and for Donald Trump as well. MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She has amazing favorable numbers. On my radio program, people call constantly who are not favorably disposed towards the father, they all speak love of her.

Everyone named Trump has delivered a tremendous speech in this convention thus far. They've all had poise, they've all had dignity. I question some of the content. I hope to Gloria's point that she throws in some of the anecdotal because that's the only element that's been lacking thus far.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah. And I think the sort of the juxtaposition of Ivanka Trump, somebody who everyone really likes, is interested in, in the way that people are tend to be interested in, the kids of rich and famous people. It will be interesting to see if she's sort of -- I mean, she's got a counterbalance her father.

But just really well her father what he says sort of undermine or whatever what she's going to try to do to soften him with those stories. I think that juxtaposition will be interesting.

AXELROD: Yes, like it seems from what the Speaker Gingrich was saying and from what we hear that they are sort of outsourcing the humanity project to Ivanka so that Trump can get to the main project which is to hit this law and order theme very, very hard.

BORGER: You know, I think we have always had presidential candidates that for some reason or another, we feel the need to humanize. It would be nice to get a candidate that didn't need to be humanized by his wife or daughter or spouse at some point.

So, I think Ivanka will do that, but then I do agree with David. We're going to take a turn, it seems to me, and Donald Trump has to explain to voters why we should have change because Hillary Clinton is the third term of Barack Obama so he's going to have to paint a dark picture about why the country needs to move in a different direction.

AXELROD: Can I just say a word about this project, this law and order project as a political exercise. We've been hearing discussion about these married white women who he needs to target. And if you get the sense that there is a feeling that perhaps fear would be an organizing tactic here, that it might be helpful to play that card with those voters.

COOPER: We got to take a short break. More ahead again as we await Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump and others. We'll be right back.


[20:57:11] BLITZER: We're getting closer and closer to the main event of the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump accepting his party's nomination for president.

We're back live here in Cleveland. Tonight, Trump is expected to offer Americans the vision of how his presidency would work for them in a speech that could influence whether he could win the White House.

Trump will take advantage of the huge T.V. audience and reach out to millions of voters who are getting more focused on their choices in this election.

He'll be introduced by the second most famous Trump, his daughter Ivanka, capping a week in which the Trump children have been convention headliners.

We're also standing by for what promises to be a remarkable moment at this convention, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Peter Thiel, who is openly gay, is expected to admonish Republicans for not embracing LGBT rights.

Jake, Trump says he wants to emerge from this convention showing how many people are behind him, support him. How is he going to achieve that goal?

TAPPER: Well, he is trying to include testimonies from people like Sheriff Arpaio, who you heard earlier tonight talking about Donald Trump, inquiring about his sick wife.

We also heard from the African-American woman yesterday who made that viral video praising Trump. She's work for the Trump family for years.

And we've heard from -- we're going to hear from every single one of the Trump children over the age of 10, including this evening Ivanka, people who know him people who respect him.

Also one of his best friends will speak this evening, a hedge fund billionaire who really feels very strongly. We heard in the interview that he did with Erin Burnett I believe last night, talking about his friend Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Yeah. Let me go to Sara Murray on the floor. This time, Trump had a conversation with some folks from Ohio. What are you learning?

SARA MURRAY. CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. Obviously, we see a lot more excitement, a lot more unity on the floor here tonight, but this is also playing out behind the scenes.

You may remember earlier this week one of Donald Trump's top aides said John Kasich was embarrassing his state by not showing up. That did not sit well with the Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges. He's a top Kasich ally but he's also someone that Donald Trump has been trying for months to win over, who Trump has made clear, Borges is critical to helping him win Ohio.

Last night, Donald Trump made a phone call and it was to Matt Borges. It's still Donald Trump. He did not offer an apology but the sentiment coming out of that call was we need to be fighting against Hillary Clinton not each other. Wolf.

BLITZER: Ohio a key battleground. All right, thanks very much. Dana, you're on the floor right now. What are you hearing?

BASH: Well, like Sara said and as we've been reporting to you, there has been quite a lot of unity here on the convention floor, even and especially perhaps is a surprising to some from Ted Cruz's supporters that many of whom were really frankly disgusted by the speech that he gave last night, that he didn't endorse.

However, not everybody is on board and those who aren't, some of them I am hearing may after Donald Trump is finished, find a place in this arena to endorse Gary Johnson, he of course is the libertarian candidate.