Images by Chris Stewart/ Staff

Highlights of Day 3 of the Republican National Convention

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s big night

Mike Pence sought to introduce himself to the nation Wednesday and build unity around running mate Donald Trump during the third night of the Republican National Convention.

The Indiana governor quickly accepted the Republican nomination for vice president, then turned to the most pressing matter at hand, introducing himself to America in prime time — and on his own terms.

>>> Pence fires up the crowd

“I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” said Pence, reverting to what’s become his personal mantra over the years.

Pence’s stratospheric rise over the past month has transformed him from a political figure largely unknown outside the Hoosier State to a dark horse candidate for Trump’s running mate and now a top party luminary.

Pence made a name for himself as a politician by avoiding negative campaigning and personal attacks. But on Wednesday he quickly stepped into the role of attack dog for Trump, who watched on from inside the arena.

“Hillary Clinton essentially offers a third Obama term. And the role is perfect for her,” Pence said. “She championed Obamacare because years before she practically invented it. … And like the president, she thinks the path to governing is more taxes, more regulation and more spending.”

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio have not moved on

Pence’s speech was overshadowed by the deafening boos that chased Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz off the stage when he refused to endorse the party’s presidential nominee Donald Trump.

>>>Chaos during Cruz speech

Cruz and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, two of Trump’s most formidable former opponents, were supposed to be a part of a powerful show of party unity. Instead, they both stopped short of embracing the man who, on Thursday, will accept the GOP nomination.

In an extraordinary address, restless delegates booed Cruz and drowned out part of his speech with chants as he trumpeted conservative principles, attacked Democrat Hillary Clinton — but never voiced his support for Trump. His lofty speech, one of the most anticipated of the week, evoked Trump’s name only once.

Rubio also refused to give Trump his outright endorsement — or even show at his party’s bash. He addressed the crowd on a video display.

The drama took the shine off Pence’s big debut.

Other speakers such as former Georgia lawmaker Newt Gingrich and Trump’s son Eric tried to build more consensus around the nominee and paint a more personable picture of him.

Meanwhile, outside of Quicken Loans Arena, police clashed with protesters earlier in the day in the tensest confrontation yet after a group of 10 demonstrators tried to burn an American flag. Two police officers were slightly injured and at least five demonstrators were arrested, and authorities quickly swarmed the area.

The protesters, who said they were part of the Revolutionary Communist Party, chanted “America was never great” as they tried to light the flag on fire. Police are expecting much larger demonstrations Thursday, the final night of the four-day convention.

Gingrich plays peacemaker

Sensing the division in the room following Cruz’s speech, Gingrich went off his prepared remarks to play peacemaker.

“Ted Cruz said you can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution,” he said. “In this election, there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution.”

A roar of applause followed.

Gingrich focused the rest of his remarks on national security. He said Trump was the only candidate who truly understands the threats facing the country and that Clinton would work to placate America’s enemies.

“We are sleepwalking through history as though this is all about politics. It is not,” Gingrich said. “It is about our safety and our survival as a country. And this is why every American should be terrified at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency.”

The night’s official theme was “Make America First Again,” but the focus felt more free-wheeling. Most of the speeches, though, were full of crowd-pleasing attacks on Clinton, the media and Trump skeptics in the GOP.

“Even all you boys with wounded feelings and bruised egos,” said Laura Ingraham, a conservative talk show host who revved up the crowd, “you must honor your pledge to support Donald Trump now — tonight.”

Ohio is still not on board with Trump

Donald Trump’s decision to publicly bash Gov. John Kasich not only jeopardizes party unity but risks alienating the Ohio GOP establishment in a state Trump will likely need to win in November, Ohio Republican Party leaders and delegates say.

On a night when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence accepted his party’s nomination for vice president, Ohio Republicans were still miffed about some of the comments the Trump team has made about their governor.

>>> Can Trump win Ohio without Kasich support?

“If his campaign team keeps criticizing John Kasich, they’re going to lose for sure,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, who backed Kasich for president but has since tacitly pledged to support Trump.

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