A series of speakers, from national candidates to conservative provocateurs, made the case for loyalty to Trump -- and the prosecution of his likely Democratic presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton.
The real headliner, though, was Alex Jones, the right-wing radio host and Infowars founder who arrived with a start, wheeling around with bodyguards while looking for the organizers. Nowhere else to turn, he eventually jumped on stage and bellowed, "Hillary for prison!" Those same words appeared on T-shirts sold by Infowars and, in the days before the airspace over Cleveland was closed, a plane that flew a banner asking for the same.
"You know, that's the thing about memes," Jones said, offering a mini-lesson on viral Internet practices to the crowd of a few hundred, a handful holstering guns and long knives. "If a meme isn't true, it's really hard to get it going. But when something's true, it's easy to get it going. Like 'Crooked Hillary' and 'Hillary for Prison!'"
Much of the audience had flocked here, many from far-off cities and towns, to see Jones, who flew into town this weekend on the same flight as Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush's political guru. Rove, who Jones confronted at the airport gate with a camera and some "questions" about his role in the "globalist" agenda, had very publicly but unsuccessfully tried to sic security on the blaring conspiracy theorist.
"Trump's a great guy and has amazing courage but listen," Jones continued on Monday, "we can't put our faith in any one individual. It's all of us together, the line of liberty coming together. Nothing's going to be able to turn this around in the end. We're identifying the globalists, we're identifying their program of control, we're identifying what their operations are. And once the general public understands the paradigm, it's game over."
And with that came another roar from a diverse crowd described by one-time Nixon aide and longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone.
"Truckers for Trump, bikers for Trump, veterans for Trump, Latinos for Trump, African-Americans for Trump, Lithuanians for Trump, Hungarians for Trump, like myself, Italian-Americans for Trump," Stone said, reading off a list.
"I am Italian," he added after a beat, "from the waist down."
Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward, the physician challenging Sen. John McCain in Arizona's Aug. 30 Republican primary, gave a more traditional speech, telling the crowd, "You have to remember: It's Kelli with an "I," because I care about the people."
Asked later if the presence of so many firearms made her concerned for the safety of convention-goers, protesters and police, Ward argued that gun restrictions "only hinder gun owners and they don't do anything for the criminals."
"I think many of the people that are carrying either concealed or open carry are here to protect police officers," she said.
But even as Ward left to warm applause, the afternoon belonged to Jones.
Diego Cruz, a high school student, arrived in Cleveland with his mother to celebrate Trump and witness the Infowars man in his pomp.
"I watch him all the time," Cruz said. "He has a lot of good conspiracy theories and he talks pretty much the truth. I believe in some of his conspiracy theories."
"Like how the government was behind 9/11. In ways, I do kind of actually believe that. It kind of comes out truthfully if you look at it," he said.
A few minutes later, an interloper jumped on stage with Jones. It was trolling comedian Eric Andre, who promptly whispered into his microphone that "jet fuel can't melt steel" -- the cornerstone meme of the 9/11 "truther" movement.
"I want to know who put the bombs in Tower 7," Andre yelled, and, just as quickly, Jones eased up.
"Well, you said something legitimate there," he said with a nod.