By J. PATRICK COOLICAN

Star Tribune staff writer

Desultory: “Lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm.”

Not an adjective you want used to describe your convention on the day you are nominated by the Republican Party to be president of the United States, but there it is, used by Jonathan Martin, the chief political correspondent for the New York Times, to characterize the day Donald Trump won the nomination for the presidency. (Formerly Martin worked for conservative National Review and a GOP congressman -- he’s no liberal hack, if that’s what you’re thinking.)

Amid the celebration, some delegates remained seated and other seats on the floor were entirely empty. In big sections of the mezzanine, row upon row of red-backed seats stood mostly vacant.

Martin reports that while the Trump coronation went on, Sen. Ted Cruz and others around Cleveland were meeting and strategizing about 2020 in an unseemly but understandable look ahead.

Politico has some of the same reporting, with GOP donors, strategists and officeholders all trying to save the party, with President George W. Bush telling people he fears he will be the last Republican president.

The AP on Trump’s stunning climb to the top, and the theme of the night, which wound up not being, as promised, the economy, but an attempt to rally the base against Hillary Clinton. To have a major political party’s delegates calling for the imprisonment of the opposition party leader was certainly not something we’ve seen in American politics before but Gov. Chris Christie’s mock trial of Clinton was surely effective in unifying the most hard core Republicans.

Dr. Ben Carson seemed to suggest Clinton is taking orders from Lucifer.
 
To our guys on the ground:

Patrick Condon (@patricktcondon): I ran into Speaker Daudt Tuesday afternoon on the arcade-style street near Quicken Loans Arena, but outside the security perimeter, that has become a sort of ground zero for the convention circus. It's a constant throng of humanity- well-dressed Republicans young and old milling around restaurant patios, journalists from all over the world, street musicians and random protestors, a giant temporary MSNBC set, dazed-looking tourists and the occasional annoyed-seeming local. Daudt said he'd been standing there for some time just people-watching while he waited to call into a radio interview back home. A quiet few moments in a week he said is full of networking and late nights.

Daudt of course is among the hundreds or more Republican politicians around the country whose political fortunes are now officially tied to Donald Trump in November. I've now talked to quite a few members of Minnesota's delegation and - with notable exceptions like Sheri Auclair, whose American flag shawl became a singular image of the convention's first day - there is just very little excitement about or respect for Trump in the Minnesota group. I know via reader feedback from Trump supporters back home that they think I'm dwelling on the negative. But after 20 years writing about politics, this is new and striking to me. It'll be interesting next week in Philly to see if the many Sanders supporters in the DFL delegation are similarly openly jaded about Clinton.

Had a chance to interview a Minnesota kid working as an RNC page and had my hope for the future restored for a few minutes. Minnesota politicos, keep an eye on this kid.

Ricardo Lopez (@rljourno): After a raucous start to the RNC this week, Day 2 was decidedly more muted. No allegations of plagiarism (as of 11:30 p.m. local time), though the similarities between Melania Trump's   night and Michelle Obama's 2008 DNC speech dominated the news cycle for half of the day.

I'm sure that some Minnesota delegates were grateful the convention didn't start until the evening; some may have been a little tired after socializing in the hotel bar until early Tuesday morning. ("Socializing" is what we're gonna call it here.)

Once things got underway at the convention, it was clear most delegates don't really like U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. During his speech, even his jabs at Hillary Clinton -- on a night when the theme transformed into attacking Clinton's trustworthiness -- fell flat with delegates.

Speaking of which, it seems that in an effort to unite divided Republicans, they turned from driving home an economic message (mostly) to lambasting Clinton. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivered a blistering prosecution of Clinton, complete with audience engagement from delegates who yelled "Guilty!" and "Lock her up!" every time he presented them with a reason for why she should be indicted.

The Trump children, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany, delivered well-received speeches where they sought to humanize their father. They seem to have succeeded, as delegates afterward praised the addresses, particularly Trump Jr.'s.

During walks around the arena, I spotted Don King -- who was barred from a speaking role because, you know, he stomped someone to death. He was giving as many media interviews as possible, offering the endorsement of Trump that he was banned from giving on stage. I'll be on the lookout for other notables tomorrow. Until then!

Lopez and Condon with an interesting look at how Republicans are trying to reach millennials, a demographic Trump is currently losing badly. The young Republicans hope their generation’s introduction to the adult world -- a mediocre recovery and tens of thousands of dollars in student debt -- will drive them into the GOP camp. Several interviewed want the party to avoid divisive social issues. Read the whole thing.

Not a joke: The convention has been struck with norovirus.

Recall the 2004 Republican convention in Madison Square Garden, which while hammering the Democratic nominee John Kerry, had flair and was electric. A very different Rudy Giuliani plus Arnold Schwarzenegger wowed the raucous crowds, though they were upstaged by keynoter Zell Miller, the Democratic former governor of Georgia who delivered a blistering and hypnotic attack on Kerry that was well written and delivered. It’s the standard I’ll judge all Republican conventions.

So far at least, this is not that convention.

Most baffling of all is the inability to schedule correctly. The 10 p.m. hour (EST) that has in the past featured former presidents was used Tuesday to champion the merits of avocados. Each night has ended with a kind of whimper, with hardly anyone left in the hall and delegates streaming out while a little known speaker talks to an empty arena, like a lonely congressman on C-SPAN. Adam Nagourney, who has covered conventions for decades, with a photo of the hall, largely empty, during prime time.

Trump is a showman. Let’s see if Trump can successfully introduce Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to the public and then Thursday make his case to the American people.

Should be interesting. Give me your thoughts: patrick.coolican@startribune.com and Twitter: @jpcoolican.

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