Obama Hits Back at Trump’s Depiction of the U.S.

President Obama “fiercely rejected Donald Trump’s depiction of an America in crisis on Friday, arguing that violent crime and illegal immigration have plunged under his leadership to their lowest rates in decades,” the AP reports.

Said Obama: “We’re not going to make good decisions based on fears that don’t have a basis in fact.”

He added: “This idea that American is somehow on the verge of collapse, this vision of violence and chaos everywhere, doesn’t really jibe with the experience of most people.”

North Carolina GOP Chair Leaves Delegates Behind

North Carolina Republican Chairman Robin Hayes, who flew a private plane to the Republican National Convention, told two fellow delegates who had supported Sen. Ted Cruz’s defiant speech that he wasn’t giving them a ride home, the McClatchy Tribune reports.

Said Hayes: “I think you need to ride the bus home.”

“The episode underscores the fact that after four days of drama — and one memorable speech — unity remains elusive for North Carolina Republicans.”

David Duke Announces Senate Bid

“Former Ku Klux Klan wizard David Duke planned to emerge from a 17-year political hiatus to qualify for the U.S. Senate race in a state already roiling with racial tension,” USA Today reports.

“Duke, a Republican who served one term in the Louisiana House, hasn’t run for office since 1999. He is running to fill the seat that will be vacated by Republican Sen. David Vitter.”

The GOP’s Descent Into Darkness

Brent Larkin: “History will recoil in horror over the Donald Trump freak show, a descent into darkness that represented a seminal moment in the breakup of a once-great political party.”

“From an organizational and logistical standpoint, Cleveland threw a perfect event. As host of the Republican National Convention, it was a city prepared to handle any problem. The list of people who deserve credit for that is a long one – with those involved with making downtown Cleveland the planet’s safest place worthy of special mention.”

“But while Cleveland’s preparation and execution earned rave reviews, the GOP’s part of the program was an utter failure, something that seemed drawn up by the faculty at Trump University.”

“Then, on Thursday night, things turned scary.”

The GOP Finally Comes to Trump

Byron York: “There’s no doubt that for the Republicans who came to Cleveland, the convention, occasionally troubled, ended on a high note. (As such things go, the balloon drop at the end was epic.) This is impressionistic, but there seemed to be an unmistakable enthusiasm deficit in the convention’s first three days. Of course there were moments, like Rudy Giuliani’s amped-up address on Monday night. But in general, the excitement level seemed lower and significant numbers of seats remained empty, even during the prime-time parts of the program.”

“That changed with Trump’s appearance on Thursday. At the very least, the RNC finally had a lot of happy customers. The (vastly) bigger question, of course, is what those millions watching on TV thought. Did they see darkness and anger, as the commentariat did? Or did they see an extraordinary political performer with the potential to actually fix the nation’s problems? Now the campaign begins in earnest.”

The End of the Republican Party

David Brooks: “On the surface, this seems like a normal Republican convention. There are balloon drops, banal but peppy music from the mid-1970s and polite white people not dancing in their seats.”

“But this is not a normal convention. Donald Trump is dismantling the Republican Party and replacing it with a personality cult. The G.O.P. is not dividing; it’s ceasing to exist as a coherent institution.”

Matthew Continetti: “There are two Republican parties for the moment: the party led by Trump and the Republican Party in exile, the party of Kasich and Larry Hogan and Nikki Haley and Charlie Baker and Brian Sandoval and Mark Kirk and Ted Cruz. Election Day won’t just determine who will succeed President Obama. It will also determine the fate of Donald J. Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP.”

Clinton Expected to Pick Kaine as Her Running Mate

“Democrats close to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign signaled strongly Thursday that she would choose Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate, rounding out the ticket with a popular politician from a battleground state,” the New York Times reports.

“Both former President Bill Clinton and the White House have expressed their support for Mr. Kaine, but aides cautioned that Mrs. Clinton had not yet made a final decision and that other candidates were still under consideration.”

Wall Street Journal: “Mrs. Clinton is likely to announce her selection Friday in the form of a text message to supporters. On Saturday, she is set to campaign in Florida, a potential stage for a joint appearance with her newly minted running mate.”

Trump Offers a Dark Speech that Echoes Nixon

Dan Balz: “There were no echoes of Ronald Reagan’s ‘Morning in America,’ George H.W. Bush’s ‘kinder and gentler nation’ or even George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism in Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination here Thursday night. Instead, in both theme and target audience, Trump offered a powerful echo of Richard Nixon almost 50 years ago.”

“Trump’s speech proved once again that he would continue to throw out the traditional campaign rulebook that might dictate softer language and broader appeals. Instead, he offered his grim portrait of the country and a law-and-order message in the hope of summoning an army of disaffected and forgotten voters large enough to topple the political status quo in November.”

James Poniewozik: “What the speech lacked in unpredictability, it made up for in volume and direness. Mr. Trump near-shouted much of what he had to say, and what he had to say was frightening.”

Trump Wants Election to be About Clinton

Donald Trump “leaves the convention here with the most negative public image of any nominee in modern history, particularly among minority voters, according to recent polls, and with many Republicans still hesitant to accept him as their standard bearer,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Those headwinds to winning the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency are particularly strong in some of the country’s more racially and ethnically diverse swing states, polling shows, including Colorado and Virginia, where Mrs. Clinton leads.”

“Her image, though, is nearly as tarnished as Mr. Trump’s, and the convention here made it clear that Republicans want to make her the focus of the race. Most of the speakers dwelled on her perceived failings, often to chants of ‘lock her up.'”