RNC 2020: From Melania Trump to gun-toting St Louis couple, what you can expect

GOP officials to hold mostly virtual event with nightly appearances from president

Alex Woodward
New York
Monday 24 August 2020 14:51 BST
Donald Trump claims Michelle Obama's DNC speech was 'extremely divisive'
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Donald Trump is expected to address each night of a mostly virtual four-day Republican National Convention, with First Lady Melania Trump delivering remarks on Tuesday and Vice President Mike Pence speaking from Fort McHenry in Maryland on Wednesday.

The president will accept his renomination during a White House address on Thursday, concluding a schedule of events that campaign and party officials did not publicly confirm within days of the event beginning on 24 August.

At his nomination speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, presidential candidate Joe Biden pledged that the US would "overcome this season of darkness in America" and "choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege."

The president called his remarks and the event "the darkest and angriest and gloomiest convention in American history."

But the president has relied on a persistent vision of a nation torn apart by other Americans throughout his campaign and at the White House. In his 2016 convention address, then-candidate Trump declared "I alone can fix" the US, and months later invoked "American carnage" and declared "America first" at his inaugural address in January 2017.

At his June re-election campaign kickoff rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the president – who has often accused Democrats of dividing the nation – considered in detail his apocalyptic view of America under Democratic leadership.

From the foot of Mount Rushmore on the eve of the Fourth of July, previewing his violent re-election campaign rhetoric in the weeks that followed during widespread protests against police brutality, the president described demonstrations as a "merciless campaign" and a "growing danger" threatening to "end America."

The president's campaign officials have promised the GOP event to contrast what they see as Democrats' "doom and gloom" outlook with a programme "honouring the great American story."

Where and when is the convention?

GOP officials initially planned to host some convention events in North Carolina, with prime-time events in Florida, but party officials moved the entire event to North Carolina after that state's governor had raised public health concerns about mass gatherings in the middle of the pandemic.

But during a White House briefing in July, the president abruptly announced that the Florida convention would be cancelled. Instead, in-person events will remain in North Carolina, where hundreds of convention participants are expected, rather than thousands, at the Charlotte Convention Centre.

The president will likely stay in Washington DC, where the Andrew W Mellon Auditorium will serve as a broadcast hub.

Prime-time events will be livestreamed and shared for broadcast beginning at 8.30pm and ending at 11pm EST beginning on 24 August.

What is on the agenda?

A roll call vote to renominate the president will take place on Monday.

The president will make an appearance during each night of the convention, including a segment honouring frontline workers, according to campaign officials.

​Each night of the convention is also scheduled to air remarks that have echoed the president's campaign rallies, speeches and White House events during which he has invited speakers to denounce socialism – specifically in Venezuela and Cuba – after the president has invoked red-scare tactics to depict his moderate rival as a "Trojan horse" for socialism.

A handful of Republican officials are confirmed to address the convention, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

The convention will also include appearances from a small business owner who relied on PPP loans during the pandemic, the only reference to the public health crisis in a tentative convention schedule.

Formerly incarcerated woman Abby Johnson, whose life sentence was commuted by the president following the intervention of Kim Kardashian West, will also appear.

Also scheduled to appear is a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic who became an anti-abortion activist, whose dramatic departure from the organisation has been scrutinised in court filings and in newspaper reports that have questioned the veracity of her claims.

But the party's ongoing grievances will also take centre stage during the prime-time events.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who threatened Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home in St, Louis, Missouri, will also address the nation.

Nick Sandmann, a Kentucky student captured in a viral video with a Native American elder, will also join the convention. He sued The Washington Post for $250 million – a case that eventually settled out of court – and threatened legal action against several other media outlets for what he and his parents alleged was modern-day "McCarthyism" and "targeting and bullying" over their coverage of the viral video.

"I can't tell you all enough about how excited I am to be apart [sic] of this years RNC!" he announced on Twitter.

The First Lady is set to speak on Tuesday from the White House Rose Garden, and the vice president will deliver remarks on Wednesday, leading up to the president's White House address on Thursday.

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