CLEVELAND, July 23, 2016 — With the 2016 GOP convention now in the books, it is time to analyze the quality of the speeches. Those who worship Donald Trump and those who despise him will give him the typically biased grades that detract from serious analysis.
With that, here are the letter grades of the notable speakers.
Mike Pence: The Indiana governor’s vice presidential speech was his introduction to the nation. He hit a home run out of the ballpark. He was heart-warming, funny, self-deprecating and able to contrast conservatives with Hillary Clinton.
He was tough without being mean. He just nailed it.
Donald Trump Jr: The Republican nominee’s eldest son was phenomenal, and may have a future in politics himself. He was expected to lift his father up and tear Hillary Clinton down, but he also did a third thing very well.
He showed a seasoned grasp of policy, showing how regulations like Dodd-Frank hurt ordinary businesspeople. He was magnificent. Grade: A+
Newt Gingrich: The former House speaker started out by adroitly defusing the neutron bomb Sen. Ted Cruz set off moments earlier.
His serious foreign policy speech showed the gap between the rosy world President Obama and Hillary Clinton describe and the savage, violent world we live in. Newt not only mentioned radical Islam, but gave clear examples in chronological order.
Gone is the firebrand. He is now a beloved elder statesman.
Chris Christie: New Jersey’s governor could be the next attorney general if Donald Trump wins the White House. He prosecuted Hillary Clinton with specific examples of her ethical breaches and foreign policy failures.
“Guilty or not guilty” was met with a rousing response of “guilty” from the delegates. This was the speech he failed to give in 2012. He redeemed himself in a major way.
Rudy Giuliani: Gotham City’s former chief executive became America’s mayor after Sept. 11, 2001 for a reason. For four straight conventions, he has lit up the GOP faithful.
He is not only America’s foremost security expert, but its most passionate and articulate speaker. He remains the gold standard for speakers.
Scott Walker: Wisconsin’s governor gave numerous examples of the Obama and Hillary failed record followed by the refrain that “America deserves better.” Beloved by conservatives,
Walker maintained his reputation as a blue-collar fighter capable of winning lunch-pail voters to the GOP.
David Clarke: The Milwaukee County sheriff has become America’s sheriff by calling out Black Lives Matter and other violent leftist protest movements for the anarchists they are.
Clarke fit in well with Trump’s theme of restoring order amidst the chaos the left has foisted upon America.
Pam Bondi: The Florida attorney general showed that tough, smart women are not buying what Hillary Clinton is selling. Bondi has prosecuted many criminals over the last few years, and she did not mince words regarding what she sees as lawlessness from Mrs. Clinton. Grade: B+
Ted Cruz: Many Trump supporters gave the Texas senator’s speech an F— because Cruz refused to endorse Trump. Removing this bias, Cruz gave a passionate defense of the Constitution. Being booed off the stage prevents an A grade, and this was a good speech that was not his very best. He has set the bar high in the past. Grade: B+
Donald Trump: His speech could have been an A. He was disciplined and focused, and he stayed on message. He hit Hillary hard without resorting to childish insults. He was substantive. He acted like an adult worthy of a presidential nomination. His only mistake was going on way too long.
The delegates on the floor were enraptured for all 75 minutes, but viewers at home wished he had wrapped it up in 45 or 50 minutes. The content was excellent, especially his promise to restore law and order. The delivery was solid, but the length was excessive and must be corrected.
Marco Rubio: The Florida senator spoke for only 90 seconds and appeared by video rather than in person. His remarks were as perfunctory as they were brief, but Rubio knows how to speak well. Grade: B
Eric Trump: The GOP nominee’s second son got off to a slow start, but the second half of his speech was significantly better.
There was nothing wrong with his speech, but he was overshadowed by his older brother. Grade: B
Melania Trump: The fake controversy over whether her speech was plagiarized (It was not) detracted from what mattered. Melania is graceful, warm and kind, and she shows the softer side of the husband she loves.
However, her remarks will not have staying power.
Ivanka Trump: Her father’s oldest child is a bright woman and the voice of reason when her dad gets knocked off message. Like Melania, her remarks showed her dad’s softer side but did not offer any memorable moments.
She did no harm.
Tiffany Trump: Her father’s youngest daughter came across as sweet and innocent, even admitting she was nervous.
Most people are more poised at 32 than 22. She said very little of consequence, but she also has never given a political speech before.
John Kasich: He boycotted the convention in his home state. In further news, fraternity pledges are withholding romantic relations from supermodels. Had Kasich spoken, he would have (based on his track record) bored the audience to death anyway. The convention was spared a preening, moralizing speech. When the history books are written, nobody will remember whether he attended. For now, he just comes across as petulant. Grade: F