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First Read: Day One Debacle for Team Trump

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: RNC in Cleveland 2016
Workers make final preparations inside Quicken Loans Area prior to the start of the first day of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The four-day convention is expected to end with Donald Trump formally accepting the nomination of the Republican Party as their presidential candidate in the 2016 election.MICHAEL REYNOLDS / EPA

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Day One Debacle

CLEVELAND -- In the modern political era, presidential conventions have become highly scripted and choreographed affairs (to create what’s essentially a four-day infomercial for the nominee and his message). But Day One yesterday for Donald Trump was anything but -- and not in a positive way.

Monday morning began with the Trump campaign’s Paul Manafort saying, multiple times, that Ohio Gov. John Kasich was “embarrassing” his state for not participating at the convention. (It’s not like Trump needs to have all the help he can to win battleground Ohio in November, right?) Then, during the afternoon, a rebellion broke out on the convention floor, highlighting the pro-Trump vs.-anti-Trump divisions in Cleveland.

And finally, after remarks by actor Scott Baio and former underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr., Melania Trump delivered a well-received speech in the primetime hour that was a sure bet to be the bright spot of the night. But there was one little problem with the address: It appeared to lift lines from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech -- word for word.

As GOP strategist Steve Schmidt observed on MSNBC last night, the incident underscored “incompetence” and was a “disservice” to Melania Trump. Bottom line: If you can’t get a political convention right, it’s hard to see how you can get work at the White House right. After all, this is the easy stuff compared with being president.

A rough last five days

In fact, think about all of the campaign-related errors over the last five days. The botched VP rollout. The awkward “60 Minutes” interview. The fact that Trump and Mike Pence never hit the campaign trail to capitalize on the VP announcement. And then last night. What you are seeing is the culmination of a campaign put together by gum and shoestrings.

Manafort: “Well, there is no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values and she cares about her family”

What’s more, speaking with NBC’s Matt Lauer before the speech, Melania Trump discussed her address, suggesting that she wrote it. "I read it once over it. And that is all I write it with a little help as possible." But at 1:48 am ET last night, the Trump campaign appeared to pin the blame on speechwriters. "In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”

And then this morning on CNN, Manafort denied there was any plagiarism. “Well, there is no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values and she cares about her family.” So what changed between 1:48 am ET last night and this morning? Inquiring minds want to know.

Day One’s other problems

Day One included other problems as well. After the primetime speeches by Melania Trump and Rudy Giuliani, organizers ended the 10:00 pm ET hour with a rambling speech by Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, which sent GOP delegates scrambling for the exits. And that left Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) -- a rising GOP star -- to deliver her remarks to a mostly empty arena. Here’s NBC’s fact-check of last night’s claims.

Day Two: Make America Work Again

Today’s theme is Make America Work Again, which will be heavy on the economy. Speakers include the UFC’s Dana White, LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ben Carson. With tonight’s McConnell-Ryan-Christie-Carson lineup, it’s worth noting that just 46% of the evening speakers during the entire convention are politicians, according to our count. Indeed, it’s a GOP convention that highlights outsiders more than insiders. So a good chunk of tonight is the exception to that.

Did Hillary tip her VP hand?

Don’t miss this from Hillary Clinton’s interview with Charlie Rose yesterday, where one could argue that she tipped her VP hand.

CHARLIE ROSE: But what-- what else is it, other than they can do that, (UNINTEL PHRASE)? Everybody on your list has the potential. Kaine, have you been with him in Virginia? He says he's too boring.CLINTON: And I love that about him. He's got a great-- I mean, he-- he's never lost an election. He was a-ROSE: Governor?CLINTON: World-class mayor, governor, and senator and-- is one of the most highly respected senators I know.

While Clinton went on to praise Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, as well as Elizabeth Warren, it sure seemed like the Kaine stuff was a little too well-rehearsed.

Veepstakes Watch

POLITICO writes that Vilsack’s stock is rising… Federal investigators say Julian Castro violated the Hatch Act while plugging Clinton… And Trump’s pick of Pence may mean that the heat’s off Clinton to make a bold or unconventional choice.

On the trail

Hillary Clinton, in Las Vegas, addresses the AFSCME convention at 2:30 pm ET and then then attends a voter-registration event at 3:30 pm ET.

Election Confessions

Don't forget to check out NBC's project "Election Confessions," now live in Cleveland with a ton of fascinating new submissions from RNC attendees.

Countdown to Dem convention: 6 days