Donald Trump races Hillary Clinton to the White House

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Patricia Katri/Contributing Writer

The presidential election of 2016 is about to begin, with both Republican and Democratic selections officially announcing their vice­-presidential candidates.

The Republican Convention, which took place in Cleveland, Ohio between July 18-21, initiated one of the first steps in beginning the long race to the White House this coming November.

With the Democratic National Convention taking place on Monday, July 25, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are fighting for the hearts and minds of the American electorate.

Sarah Moats, an FIU instructor in the department of Politics and International Relations wrote an opinion editorial for FIU News discussing national conventions and their purpose.

“At first glance, a party convention seems like a large celebration. There are music, balloons, celebrities and moving speeches,” wrote Moats. “However, the festivities take a backseat to the real purpose of a nominating convention: to formally select the party’s nominee for president and vice president.”

She writes that this is an opportunity for the party to formally announce its candidates, and to “show a unified front and build support for the party’s platform – each of which will be used to launch momentum going into the general election in November.”

The possibility was raised prior to the RNC that Republican delegates might choose a candidate other than Trump. However, the supposed “Dump Trump” voters lacked enough support to derail Trump’s nomination.

“For the Republicans, unification has proved extremely difficult,” wrote Moats. “Republican Party leaders are very uneasy about the notion of Donald Trump as the nominee.”

Moats stresses in her piece that it is imperative that Trump find common ground with the rest of the Republican leadership, in order to avoid appearing “weak and indecisive to voters.”

Much attention was drawn to the convention’s speakers, including members of the Trump family, Melania, Donald Jr., and Ivanka Trump.

Melania Trump drew widespread criticism for delivering a seemingly word-­for-­word repetition of first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention eight years ago, including such phrases as “your word is your bond,” “your dreams and your willingness to work for them,” and the “passion and intelligence” of her parents—in the same sequence used by Mrs. Obama in 2008.

Trump Jr. drew both praise and criticism from Republicans, Democrats, and non-binary voters from his speech.

In his keynote speech, Trump renewed his pledge to “make America great again,” and claimed that he identified himself as the “law and order candidate.”

“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life,” Trump said. “I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon —and I mean very soon— come to an end.”

Trump established a “put America first stance,” making American greatness, rather than global cooperation, a priority for his presidency, should he win the election.

“As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America first, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect—the respect that we deserve,” Trump said.

The convention was also marked by the selection of the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Indiana governor Mike Pence. Moats responded to the strategical importance in picking the vice-presidential candidate.

“The vice president selection is very important. Theoretically, the running mate should further unify the party by pulling support from a different segment of the party,” wrote Moats. “For example, Trump’s running mate is expected to be very politically experienced and also appeal to the party’s conservative ideology. This would further ease tensions with party leadership.”

At the convention, Pence identified himself as a Christian, conservative, and Republican. Faith, as he stated at the convention, has been important in his life from an early age.

“When I was young, I watched my mom and dad build everything that matters—a family, a business, and a good name,” he said at the convention. “I was raised to believe in hard work, faith, and family.”

In mentioning the importance of family, Pence sees parallels between his devotion to his own and his running mate’s children successes: “As we say back at home, you can’t fake good kids,” he said.

The response from Hillary Clinton’s campaign had been quick, as indicated by the #BetterThanThis hashtag created on Twitter.

Even though the Democratic Party remains mired in controversy amid Hillary Clinton’s and DNC email scandals, the presumptive Democratic nominee has announced her running mate: Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, a fluent Spanish speaker and liberal who is committed to public service.

Additional reporting by Stephanie Espaillat/News Director

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