CLEVELAND — Right about now, Rob Russo, the guy who handles Hillary Clinton’s correspondence, should be putting the finishing touches on dozens of thank-you notes.
The Republican gifts to Clinton have come in all shapes and sizes, in some cases wrapped with brightly colored bows.
For example, take Ted Cruz’s Wednesday night dog whistle to his supporters to “vote your conscience” in November.
Translation: Let Hillary win this time so I can come back in 2020 without having to run in a primary against an incumbent Republican president. At his age, with his ambition and with a favorite-son’s delegate base in Texas, Cruz could have as many as half a dozen more runs in him if that’s what it takes.
Not only did Cruz essentially blow up the convention floor and show that there are still deep divisions in a party that is desperately trying to project unity, but he ended up overshadowing what has been the best speech of the convention so far — the one delivered by vice presidential nominee and potential 2020 rival Mike Pence.
Thanks, Ted. XOXO, Hillary.
The trouble really started just before the convention, when it became clear that forces in Trumpville were battling each other to force the Donald’s hand on whether to pick Pence or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Even after Pence’s name leaked, Trump went on television and said he hadn’t made up his mind. So much for decisive leadership on a presidential-level question.
Thanks, Donald et al. XOXO, Hillary
After Melania Trump repeated words Michelle Obama first spoke, Trump’s campaign chief, Paul Manafort, went on television and said it was “crazy” to think Mrs. Trump had borrowed the first lady’s voice. Then, the next day, a nonpolitical aide to the Trump family, Meredith McIver, publicly apologized for lifting passages but kinda/sorta threw Melania Trump under the bus for suggesting the lines in the first place.
No one had bothered to check the three-minute — three-minute! — speech. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski tried to get Manafort ousted for the failure to not communicate Michelle Obama’s prose.
Oh, and whoever slotted the speakers made the mistake of putting Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa at the back of the line Monday night, ensuring that her very effective speech was buried under the plagiarism story.
Thanks, Melania, Paul, Corey and Meredith. XOXO, Hillary.
By the time Chris Christie fired up the convention hall on Tuesday night with a rousing chant of “Lock her up” — quite a statement for a former prosecutor who just watched a top aide plead guilty to bribery — there was little hope that anyone could douse the 2016 GOP convention inferno.
In America, we don’t imprison people who haven’t been charged with crimes — and usually someone who is openly campaigning to be attorney general has the good sense to not start targeting political enemies before he’s in office. Christie and the convention hall transformed instantaneously into a banana republic.
Thanks, Chris and all the convention delegates. XOXO, Hillary.
Pence delivered on Wednesday night, using a crisp, clear voice to make the case for Donald Trump and articulate a much more reasonable argument against Clinton than his predecessors had.
Unlike so many of them, Pence knew what Republicans have failed to learn for two decades — a Clinton thrives on the overreach of his or her enemies. Rudy Giuliani, for example, went way overboard.
Thanks, Rudy. XOXO, Hillary.
At least on messaging, Pence sounded out themes that could unify establishment and anti-establishment Republicans, as well as conservatives and moderates.
But his address was devoid of any serious discussion of specific policies. The vice presidential acceptance speech wouldn’t be the place for that, except that no one else did much of it, either. The problem: The Republican Party is badly divided over policies ranging from immigration to trade.
Thanks, GOP electorate. XOXO, Hillary.
In an interview published Thursday by The New York Times, Donald Trump said he might tell NATO countries that can’t pay their dues “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.” No serious foreign policy professional thinks that’s a good idea.
Thanks, again, Donald. XOXO, Hillary.
Trump will take the stage Thursday night with only this to hope for: salvaging the last night of the convention and trying to get out of Cleveland as fast as possible.
Bakari Sellers, a CNN commentator, Clinton supporter and former South Carolina state legislator, predicted that, in an unusual twist, Democrats would benefit from both their own convention and the GOP’s.
“We’ll have two weeks of positive Democratic messaging,” Sellers said in a brief interview on Media Row here. “There is no better way to see how the Republicans are going to run the country than the way they ran this convention.”
The Democrats will gather in Philadelphia next week, where there’s no worry that anyone will suggest voters pick Trump over Clinton. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and a cast of dozens will give full-throated endorsements of Hillary Clinton. The most important will come from President Barack Obama, whose popularity has been on the rise during this slugfest of a campaign.
Thanks, Obama. XOXO, Hillary.
Yeah, Rob Russo’s going to be pretty busy the next couple of days.
Roll Call columnist Jonathan Allen is co-author of the New York Times-bestselling Clinton biography “HRC” and has covered Congress, the White House and elections over the past 15 years.