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The One-Man Show Begins: President Trump Takes Center Stage at the RNC

2020-08-25 14:38:33

Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I’m Giovanni Russonello, typically the morning newsletter writer, covering the evening shift during the conventions.

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Yes, he remains broadly unpopular with the country at large. His response to the coronavirus pandemic has drawn increasingly negative reviews — and his marks on handling issues around racial injustice were never positive in the first place. In head-to-head polls against Joe Biden, he’s trailing by a nearly double-digit average.

Yet at this week’s convention, that old 2016 mantra is still in effect. It is Mr. Trump alone, apparently, who can fix things for himself and his party.

He already gave one address today — surprising the Republican delegates gathered at the Charlotte convention center after they had voted to officially renominate him. He’ll speak again tonight during the nationally televised broadcast, and every night of the four-day convention. (Typically, candidates only give a single acceptance speech.)

This morning, stepping to the podium to chants of “four more years,” Mr. Trump encouraged the crowd to go bigger than that: “If you want to really drive them crazy, you say, ‘Twelve more years,’” he said. A few audience members took him up on it.

The G.O.P.’s singular adherence to Mr. Trump was also evident over the weekend when, in an extraordinary move, the party announced that it would not adopt a policy platform at this year’s convention. Instead, it wrote in a resolution that “the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda,” even though Mr. Trump’s policies have often veered from Republican orthodoxy.

After the announcement about the platform, William Kristol, a prominent Republican critic of the president, wrote on Twitter: “It’s no longer the Republican party. It’s a Trump cult.” The Biden campaign has been aggressively courting the votes of moderates put off by Mr. Trump, and it released a list today of 27 Republican former members of Congress who had rejected Mr. Trump and endorsed the former vice president.

Throughout Mr. Trump’s term, Vice President Mike Pence has played the role of quiet liaison between the chief executive and the party establishment. In a speech accepting his own renomination today, Mr. Pence sought to ensure the party faithful that backing Mr. Trump was tantamount to supporting key G.O.P. policy positions.

He rattled off core Republican issues that he said Mr. Trump stood for, including free-market economics, “secure borders” and opposition to abortion. “Four more years means more judges,” Mr. Pence said. “Four more years means more support for our troops and our cops. It’s going to take at least four more years to drain that swamp.”

The convention’s official proceedings begin at 9 p.m. tonight. You can watch at, where our reporters will be online to offer live analysis. CNN, MSNBC and PBS will show the full two-hour broadcast, but the major broadcast TV networks will air only the event’s second half. Fox News may air some of the first hour, depending on how Sean Hannity handles his 9 p.m. show.

Among the evening’s notable speakers are Nikki Haley, Mr. Trump’s former United Nations ambassador, who is widely regarded as a possible 2024 candidate for president; Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of the president’s key allies in Congress; and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate.

Among the nonpoliticians slated to speak are Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a couple who became a cause célèbre on the right after they were filmed holding guns to threaten peaceful Black protesters outside their St. Louis home, and Andrew Pollack, the father of a girl who was killed in the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.

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