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Republican National Convention: What To Expect


We're going to begin the program today by looking ahead to the Republican convention that starts tomorrow. Over four days, the GOP will make its case to voters. Here to preview the events is NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro.

Domenico, good to have you back.


MARTIN: So President Trump was asked about the Democratic convention on Fox News. He called it dark - his words. And he said this is what people can expect for his party's convention.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think we're going to see something that is going to be very uplifting and positive. That's what I'd like to - like it to be. I think you have to defend yourself by talking about some of the lies.

MARTIN: Domenico, what do you make of that?

MONTANARO: I mean, it's kind of a remarkable thing because it doesn't match his rhetorical history to have an uplifting and positive convention. And not-so-far-back history - I mean, on Thursday, he said, if you want a vision of your life under a Biden presidency, think of the smoldering ruins of Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago. And imagine the mayhem coming to your town and every single town in America. On Friday, two days ago, Trump said, I'm the only thing standing between the American dream and total anarchy (laughter).

So, you know, Joe Biden certainly built his speech as a fight between light and darkness. The Obamas warned that democracy is at stake. But it's going to be hard for Trump to make his convention the one about the light when he delivered an inaugural address about American carnage. It was sort of the entire premise of him running for office in the first place - that things were just so bad that, remember in 2016, he said at his convention speech, I alone can fix it.

MARTIN: Well, let's - just talk about the convention itself. It had a pretty circuitous route, starting in Charlottesville, then - starting in - sorry, Charlotte, then moving to Jacksonville and then abandoning those plans. So if you could just remind us, what can we expect this week?

MONTANARO: Yeah. Well, a little bit different than the Democratic convention, where they had that roll call that we saw that went across all 50 states and sort of happened later in the week, you know, with a bit of a buildup. Actually, they're going to get the roll call and the business part of this all out of the way tomorrow morning. They're going to renominate President Trump and Vice President Pence as the Republican Party's ticket.

And, you know, most of - a lot of the convention - it's going to be all over the place, but it's going to be centered around Washington, D.C., where Trump is going to remain and break this norm, where he's going to give his acceptance speech from the White House lawn, really mixing campaign and official duties. You know, certainly, the, quote-unquote, "Hatch Act" doesn't apply to the president. But a lot of staffers are going to be involved in that, a lot of ethicists, you know, really questioning the ethics of doing that.

We're going to hear from a lot of other people, notables like Senator Mitch - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Tim Scott, the only Black senator in Congress, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, Nikki Haley, who we haven't heard from in a while, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as well as Vice President Pence, so a broad array of people. And I have a lot of questions as to how they're going to try to reach out to the middle. You can see at least they're trying to highlight some diversity in their speakers.

MARTIN: Well, it's interesting, though, that you pointed out how Washington-centric it is since the Democrats made a point to kind of show off its big tent, to really show the country, to show people out in the country, you know, all over it. And I just wondered if any of what the Democrats pulled off last week - which people, frankly, were sort of nervous about. You know, there were all kinds of opportunities for technical glitches and so forth. I wonder if any of that affects the GOP's goals this week.

MONTANARO: Well, I think, first of all, they really built Biden up to be a caring person with a lot of empathy. We're going to see if they can do at least something to soften up Trump.

MARTIN: All right. The - and I think that's all the time we have for Domenico. That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro.

Thank you.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.