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Four Days in Cleveland

Photographer Ron Haviv documented four unpredictable days at the Republican National Convention.

Day Four: This is the End

On the final day of the convention, a group of more than a hundred protestors gathered on the Hope Memorial Bridge, an art-deco truss bridge that stretches for nearly a mile over the Cuyahoga Rover. The road has been closed as a parade route, and the protestors marched back and forth across the wide, empty asphalt.

“Nobody from Cleveland saw them,” Haviv says. “Just the media, the police, and the Westboro Baptist Church.” After four days, Haviv was disappointed with the energy in Cleveland, both on the streets and on the convention floor. He’d heard only 24 people had been arrested, and in the end it was the Communists who made the biggest fuss, attempting to burn a flag earlier in the week. Haviv spotted this protester easily; he was one of the few on the bridge. “I didn’t want to disturb him or ask him any questions, the pose was enough.”

Day 3: Chaos at the Podium

There’s a moment that happens on the penultimate night of a political convention: the vice presidential nominee gives his or her speech, and the presidential nominee comes out at the end to shake hands, revealing himself to the crowd for the first time. That’s the moment a photographer is waiting for. When Donald Trump came out to greet veep pick Mike Pence at the end of his speech—and failed to deliver an awkward peck on the cheek—it wasn’t the first time he’d been seen. “In terms of visuals, he’s changed the rules of how you appear at a convention,” says Haviv. “I don’t think Trump can let anything go off on its own.” Trump introduced his wife after a dramatic entrance on day one, watched from the audience as his son Eric gave a speech, and lurked in the background as Ted Cruz denied him an endorsement.

Day 2: The Children’s Hour

By shuffling the roll call, the New York delegates made sure their votes were the ones that pushed Trump over the 1237 needed to become the Republican nominee. When the time came to announce the vote, the crowd parted for a group of tall, angular, and polished-looking people. Donald Trump Jr. took the microphone: “It is my honor to throw Donald Trump over the top in the delegate count tonight.” Four of the five Trump children will speak over the course of the convention—Barron, age 10, would sit out the event.

Haviv caught this image right after the votes were announced. There was joy among the family—Donald pumped his fists, Ivanka hugged Eric, Tiffany laughed and smiled. Satisfied, the children scattered to talk one-on-one with media.

Day 1: Donald Trump Takes the Stage

“Usually the candidates don’t even go to the convention until the last day.” Ron Haviv has shot photographs for at least six conventions, and they all follow a certain choreography. The nominee is supposed to be like a bride at a wedding, hidden and revealed at key moments. But Trump blasted out of the gate on day one, taking the stage with a fog machine and “We Are the Champions” turned up to eleven to introduce his wife Melania.

Haviv headed to Cleveland’s East 4th Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare of bars and restaurants near the Quicken Loans Arena, to watch the first night of Donald Trump’s personal four-night media circus. A huge MSNBC screen was set up in the middle of the street, but most people were more interested in their food. There had been a few protests in the late afternoon, but the evening, for the most part, was quiet. “The most surprising thing is it’s strangely complacent,” he says. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow night.”