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Between a plagiarized speech from Melania Trump and Ted Cruz being booed after refusing to endorse Donald Trump, 20-year-old James Villalobos walked around Quicken Loans Arena with his all-access pass and his eyes and ears wide open.

Villalobos scored a correspondent gig to the Republican National Convention after being picked from almost 200 applicants in a nationwide search by Fuse Media and Voto Latino for aspiring journalists to "Crash the Party."

The University of Massachusetts Amherst journalism student and first-generation Latino was hoping to witness the Republican Party finally coming together. What he saw was much different.


Here's what he learned during his week in Cleveland.

1. There was a lack of diversity at the convention.

"Walking around that convention hall, there was very little diversity," Villalobos explained. "With the exception of a few black people, I didn’t really come across any Latinos so that was a bit disappointing because you want to see that representation there." According to The National Review, Latinos — one of the country's largest ethnic minority — account for only 17% of the GOP, and that number is declining.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

2. The Trump swag is cringeworthy.

"There are a lot of people taking advantage of the number of Trump supporters present and making revenue off of it," Villalobos said.

There are your run-of-the-mill propaganda items like "Make America Great Again" hats, buttons, and T-shirts, but there’s also an ugly side to the items being peddled, he said. As you may imagine, Villalobos confirmed, there's plenty of anti-Hillary goods for sale — including a disturbing shirt reading "Hillary Sucks, But Not Like Monica." Of course, though, there's sure to be anti-Trump merchandise at the DNC next week as well.

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

3. There were plenty of protesters but no civilized exchange of ideas.

"It’s sad we live in a time where we don’t listen to each other," Villalobos said. He saw a lot of anger with people screaming and swearing at each other. Among the protesters that Villalobos saw at the RNC were Black Lives Matter activists, anarchist groups, and the Stop Trump movement.

"My only hope is that we as a country can discuss the issues and together work on solutions," he explained.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

4. The Republican Party may be divided on many issues, but members are united on their dislike of Hillary Clinton.

In spite of the numerous attempts made to present a united front during the RNC, the party of Lincoln still seems pretty divided, according to Villalobos. Ted Cruz's address at the convention and subsequent refusal to endorse Trump by encouraging people to "vote their conscience" seemed to fracture the party even further.

The one thing everyone seems to have in common, though, is their disdain of all things Hillary Clinton. The most popular chant throughout the four-day event, Villalobos said, was "Lock her up!"

We should expect to see Democrats unite at their convention, as well, in their collective disdain of Trump and everything he stands for. This is clearly one of the most polarizing U.S. elections to date.

Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

5. People expressed gratitude toward law enforcement.

There was a very large police presence — understandably so given the devastating attacks and other acts of violence we've seen in the past weeks. What struck Villalobos the most, he remarked, was how the Cleveland community embraced the officers' presence, taking the time to say, "thank you for being here" or "thank you for keeping us safe."

Image by Dominick Reuter/Getty Images.

Villalobos is the only U.S. citizen in his family. His parents and sisters were born in Costa Rica.

When he heard about this amazing opportunity to cover the RNC, he thought it was a long shot. But after a public vote and impressing a panel of judges including Rachel Maddow — the rest is now history.

Seeing the RNC through Villalobos' eyes gives us a unique perspective from someone who's experiencing the political process for the first time.


In four days, Villalobos didn't see himself represented in the RNC. He also witnessed a divisive party, but he achieved what he set out to do. He went. He saw. He conquered. And most importantly for him, he became a better journalist, and that's something we can all benefit from someday.

Read all about Villalobos' journey covering the RNC for Fuse Media and Voto Latino's Crash the Party.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


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Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

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Lynch is part of a growing line of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory

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Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

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