Donald Trump has secured the nomination of the Republican Party to become the next US president after months of controversial campaigning that has divided the American right of the political spectrum.
The billionaire businessman had been expected to cruise past the 1,237 delegates needed on Tuesday to seal the deal on the first ballot. Trump was put over the top by his home state of New York.
“It is something I’ll never ever forget,” Trump said on a video feed from New York. “Together we have achieved historic results with the largest vote total in the history of the Republican Party. This is a movement, but we have to go all the way.”
Anti-Trump forces on the floor held out for a final miracle on Tuesday after seeking to convince delegates that their votes were not bound and that they could vote their conscience, but it never came to fruition.
Many Americans oppose Trump’s ascension in US politics, lambasting his controversial campaign statements, including calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers whom he would deport if elected president. He has also called for a ban on Muslims from entering the United States.
It has been a stunning rise for a man most thought would never make it this far.
“After all the predications that he could never do it – the public wouldn’t want someone with no legislative experience, no government experience – they’ve opted for a man who has made his name first of all in business and latterly as a reality TV show host,” reported Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher from the convention in Cleveland.
“He will now be on top of the Republican ticket come November.”
The real estate mogul won a thumping victory in a series of state-wide party elections, garnering more than 13 million votes – the most of any Republican nominee ever.
The conventions are designed to champion the party candidate, rally the grassroots, and propel the party towards November’s presidential election. Trump will go against Democratic party nominee Hillary Clinton.
Republican delegates savaged Clinton at the convention, breaking into angry chants of “lock her up” and “guilty” as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie accused her of wrongdoing and numerous foreign policy failures, including on Libya, Syria, the Iran nuclear deal, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“Let’s do something fun tonight,” Christie, himself a former federal prosecutor, told the convention as he laid out a case against Clinton and “her selfish, awful judgment.”
“We are going to present the facts to you. You, tonight, sitting as a jury of her peers in this hall and in your living rooms around our nation,” he said.
Outlining what he called “the facts”, Christie slated Clinton’s record as US secretary of state, accusing her of being responsible for chaos and violence engulfing the Middle East and elsewhere, and asking whether she is “guilty or not guilty?”
“In Syria, imagine this, imagine this: she called President Assad ‘a reformer.’ She called Assad ‘a different kind of leader’. There are now 400,000 dead. Think about that: 400,000 dead. At the hands of the man that Hillary defended. So we must ask this question: As an awful judge of the character of a dictator and butcher in the Middle East, is she guilty or not guilty?”
“Guilty,” the crowd chanted in reply.
“America and the world are measurably less safe because of the Iran deal Hillary helped cut. An inept negotiator of the worst nuclear arms deal in American history, guilty or not guilty?” he bellowed.
“Guilty,” the crowd replied.
Trump’s campaign hoped the formal nomination would both end the discord surging through the Republican Party and overshadow the convention’s chaotic kickoff, including accusations of plagiarism involving his wife, Melania Trump, during her speech on opening night.
Two passages from Melania Trump’s address – each 30 words or longer – matched a 2008 Democratic convention address by Michelle Obama – wife of US President Barack Obama – nearly word-for-word.
Trump’s campaign insisted there was no evidence of plagiarism, while offering no explanation for how the strikingly similar passages wound up in his wife’s speech.
Clinton pounced on the tumult. “When you pull back the curtain, it was just Donald Trump with nothing to offer to the American people,” she said during a speech in Las Vegas.
This week’s four-day convention is Trump’s highest-profile opportunity to convince voters that he’s better suited for the presidency than Clinton, who will be officially nominated at next week’s Democratic gathering.