The 2020 Republican National Convention, which began this morning, won’t be the on-stage spectacle many figured it would be, pre-pandemic. However, the RNC still has some big plans in store for its convention, and viewers will see some notable differences from the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, held last week.
For one, each night’s events are expected to begin at 8:30 p.m., a half-hour earlier than the Democrats’ program, although the major broadcast networks do not start covering until 10 p.m.
There will also be far more on-stage elements this week.
“We’re going to have more of it live than what they did,” President Trump told Hannity on Thursday. “I think it’s pretty boring when you do tapes.”
Michael Grynbaum and Annie Karni from The New York Times report that Trump will directly address the nation in prime time on each of the convention’s four nights. This was of course not the case on the Democratic side, where Joe Biden delivered his address on Thursday evening, to close the convention, and made some remarks on Tuesday night after his wife Dr. Jill Biden spoke on his behalf; but that was about it.
According to the Times, “The president wants the opportunity to rebut charges made against him throughout the Democratic program, aides said, particularly on his handling of the coronavirus crisis.”
Another difference has to do with the delegate roll call. The Republicans are doing their roll call live from Charlotte this morning. The DNC roll call took place on Day 2 of their convention in prime time, and featured a mix of politicians and everyday citizens providing taped and live dispatches from their home states and territories in support of their candidate, which ended up being Biden (though Sen. Bernie Sanders got some support as well, including a formal nomination from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez).
A stage has been built for this week’s RNC at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, a large event space where most of the speakers will address a live audience. Covid-19 regulations in Washington, D.C., prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people. However, according to the Times, Republican aides say they have hired “Covid experts” to determine how many onlookers can enter the auditorium and what audience participation could look like.
Who will speak? Expect Trump family members and White House staffers, according to the Times.
… Including Dan Scavino, Mr. Trump’s former caddy who is now deputy chief of staff for communications. Larry Kudlow, the national economic adviser, and Rudolph Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, will also speak, along with Kimberly Guilfoyle, a campaign fundraising official and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend.
The lineup also includes Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the Missouri couple that toted weapons at Black protesters and have since become right-wing media stars, and Nicholas Sandmann, the Kentucky teenager who sued news outlets over coverage of his encounter last year with a Native American protester in Washington.
A “Democrats for Trump” segment is planned, though the participants remain a closely guarded secret. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the sole Black Republican in the Senate, will speak, along with three future potential presidential candidates: Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas; Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Ja’Ron Smith, the highest-ranking Black official in the Trump White House, is set to speak on the final night, which also includes the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.