Republican National Convention: Who is speaking and why

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – This week’s Republican National Convention will be a four-day celebration of US President Donald Trump, featuring a younger generation that may be hoping for a shot at the White House in 2024, as well as a St. Louis couple who brandished guns at anti-racism protesters.

Here is a look at speakers featured in a mix of live and virtual programming that will start on Monday (Aug 24) and run from 8.30pm until 11pm EDT every night.

Signs for the 2020 Republican National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in North Carolina on Aug 22, 2020.
Signs for the 2020 Republican National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in North Carolina on Aug 22, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

TRUMP AND FAMILY

The theme of the nominating convention will be “Honouring the Great American Story,” and will culminate in a live acceptance speech by Mr Trump on Thursday night from the South Lawn of the White House.

The president, who trails Democratic nominee Joe Biden in opinion polls ahead of the Nov 3 election, will be the central focus and will speak each night, according to campaign sources, including one event when he will honour doctors, nurses and other workers on the front line of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Trump’s children, including Ms Ivanka Trump, Mr Donald Trump Jr and Mr Eric Trump, will also get prominent speaking roles.

Some government ethics experts have expressed concern over the use of federal properties as stages for partisan political speeches, but a law prohibiting the use of federal funds for campaign appearances excludes the president and vice-president.

In 1940, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted his party’s nomination from the White House via radio.

Republicans are looking to strike a more optimistic vision for the country, seeking a contrast with what they saw as the Democrats’ more ominous perspective laid out at their convention last week.

On Monday, the convention theme will be the “Land of Promise,” Tuesday’s will be the “Land of Opportunity,” Wednesday will focus on the “Land of Heroes” and events will conclude on Thursday with the “Land of Greatness.”

TRUMP CHANGED MY LIFE

Mr Trump has been criticised for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 170,000 Americans and triggered a severe economic downturn, as well as his reaction to nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans.

To counter that criticism, the convention will feature everyday Americans who will say that Mr Trump changed their lives in positive ways, according to a member of Mr Trump’s campaign.

They will also sound the alarm over the dangers of a Mr Biden victory in November.

Among them will be Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a St. Louis couple who drew guns in front of Black Lives Matter protesters who marched through their gated community in July.

They were charged with felony weapons offences, which Mr Trump has called a “disgrace.” Their attorney, Mr Joel Schwartz, said their appearance had been confirmed by Republican organisers.

Other citizen speakers will include police Sergeant Ann Dorn, whose husband, retired police Captain David Dorn, was killed during violent protests in St. Louis in June; Ms Tanya Weinreis, who will say her Montana coffee shop and employees’ livelihoods were saved by a loan from the federal coronavirus relief Paycheck Protection Programme, and the parents of Ms Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian worker murdered by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Mr Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school massacre, will also speak. He is an advocate for enhanced school safety measures, including armed guards.

2024 HOPEFULS

The convention will also feature Republicans considered prospective 2024 presidential hopefuls.

Vice-President Mike Pence will be the main speaker on Wednesday. He will deliver his remarks from Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, made famous in the War of 1812 when it was successfully defended against an attack by the British navy, inspiring the poem that became the lyrics for the US national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Other speakers include Ms Nikki Haley, Mr Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations; South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem; Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Mr Donald Trump Jr, who some party members want to see continue the Trump legacy.

The Trump campaign also gave speaking roles to members of the Senate and House of Representatives facing tough re-election battles, including Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who defected from the Democratic Party.

Some Republican incumbents facing tough re-election challenges are noticeably absent from prominent speaking roles, however, including Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Ms Martha McSally of Arizona.

The Republican lineup will feature fewer women and diverse voices than the Democratic convention. While more than 20 women are scheduled to speak this week, Democratic women dominated last week’s proceedings, with the first three evenings ending with addresses by former first lady Michelle Obama, Ms Jill Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

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