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Day 1 In Cleveland: Chaos On The Republican Convention Floor

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep in Cleveland where there was chaos on the Republican Convention floor last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Roll call vote, roll call vote.

INSKEEP: You're hearing delegates chanting roll call vote. Critics of Donald Trump wanted to start a process that would have opened the possibility of changing Convention rules and then the nominee - didn't happen. The presiding officer did a voice vote - all in favor say aye - and decided against them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

REINCE PRIEBUS: The chair has found insufficient support for the request for a record vote.

INSKEEP: You hear the unhappiness there. Senator Mike Lee of Utah was on the floor trying to force that on-the-record vote to happen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE LEE: You are ignoring delegates who have been elected to this convention. I have no idea what's going on right now. This is surreal. I mean, the chair walked off the stage. He completely abandoned his post.

INSKEEP: Which is a classic political move, by the way. All in favor say aye, find the result that you want and then leave before people can do anything to overturn that. NPR political reporter Scott Detrow is with us in the studios of WCPN Ideastream just down the street from the convention location. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: So what did the opponents of the chair want here?

DETROW: They were basically trying to change the rules of the convention, make it contested, so that delegates could vote for whoever they wanted. They wouldn't have to go with Donald Trump if their states went to Donald Trump. To be clear, this was a minority of delegates who wanted to do this. But they were very vocal. They created a scene.

And this is certainly not how Republicans wanted to start their convention.

INSKEEP: And their theory, I guess, was if there was a roll call vote, calling the delegation, the delegates name by name, that would, for some people, shame some people, perhaps, into changing their votes. Is that it?

DETROW: That was part of it. They were also trying to have a vote on the actual rules. These are rules that they tried to change last week when the Rules Committee was meeting to go through these. And then they lost those votes by very wide margins. So this was a last ditch effort.

INSKEEP: Did Donald Trump's opponents have an alternative in mind?

DETROW: They did not. And that's been a shortcoming of this never-Trump movement all along. Back this spring when the primaries were playing out, when they were trying to keep him under the delegates he needed to clinch the nomination and then once he got that number, to try and rewrite the convention rules. It's hard to stop someone with nothing.

And they never really coalesced around an alternative, whether it was Ted Cruz or someone else.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about what this means in a longer term than just this convention. Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh, who's the founder of what's called the Free The Delegates movement said you'll see more insurgency because people now know their voices were squelched. Is there a chance of more insurgency here?

DETROW: There's certainly no convention rule that stops you from making a scene, as we've seen at several conventions in the past. And there could be more demonstrations. I think one moment to look for that possibly happening is this afternoon when the convention actually nominates Donald Trump as the nominee. They have that roll call vote.

INSKEEP: With that said, though, I was listening to the NPR live coverage last night. Ken Cuccinelli, one of the leaders of this resistance movement, former attorney general of Virginia, was being interviewed on the program - said he was upset, that he was lied to. But bottom line, he's still voting for Donald Trump, he says.

DETROW: Yeah, and we've seen that trend in a lot of polls. More than a majority of Republicans don't love Trump as the nominee. But the vast majority of Republicans say they're going to vote for him.

INSKEEP: OK, thanks. That's NPR's Scott Detrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.