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Trumpety-trump. Trump, trump, trump

27 August 2020

By Phil Elwood, Managing Director, SEC Newgate, Washington, D.C.

The Republican National Convention has arrived on televisions across the US this week. The event was foreshadowed by the release of the GOP platform, which was summed up with one line: “RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”

Make no mistake – this is the convention of Trump. 

The speaker line-up contains most members of the Trump family in keynote positions. The venue has been a point of contention, with the event relocated twice over coronavirus concerns and ultimately landing in Washington, D.C. where government sites, including the White House, are being used for the political party speeches. In the US, there is a law called the “Hatch Act,” which bars public officials from using public resources for campaign purposes. 

On night one of the convention, President Donald Trump spoke for over an hour – breaking with the custom of reserving the nominee’s speech for the final night, though he will give another address Thursday evening. Fact checkerswere kept busy during his remarks, and CNN stopped airing the address live due to the number of false statements the President made. This highlights a challenge for journalists in the US, needing to both report the news and hold elected officials accountable for making false or misleading statements. 

Ratings are a very important metric for President Trump, and they were down from both the 2016 convention, as well as the DNC’s convention last week. 

On night two, former Florida Attorney General and member of Trump’s impeachment defence team, Pam Bondi gave a passionate speech about the dangers of nepotism. Her speech was then followed by three people with the last name Trump. That evening also had a reshuffling of speakers after one participant was removed from the schedule for posting an anti-Semitic rant on Twitter promoted by Q Anon followers

Among the keynote speeches Tuesday night was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s precedent shattering address. A sitting Secretary of State has never spoken to a political convention, not to mention participating from a foreign country, while on official travel. Melania Trump also spoke from the White House Rose Garden. In her longest address to date as First Lady, she addressed both COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide protests over policing in the US. 

Three crises were hitting the US on night three of the convention, but received little attention from the speakers. Wildfires are ravaging California, the Southern US was bracing for a historic hurricane to make landfall, and tension on the streets was boiling over in Kenosha, Wisconsin following another police shooting. 

Night three’s big feature was Vice President Mike Pence’s speech, which featured him going on the attack against Biden. Dark warnings about Biden being a “Trojan horse for the radical left” leading the nation into socialism and decline were paired with statements of support for law enforcement

Prior to the Vice President’s speech, his wife Karen Pence was part of a lineup of women’s voices, intended to help with the President’s approval among female voters. She spoke about military families, her teaching career and support for her husband. The event continued to feature Trump’s staff more than Republican candidates and other elected officials, with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaking about her preventative cancer treatment and the support she received from President Trump, and Kellyanne Conway trying to appeal to suburban women, a voting bloc that is essential for Trump’s reelection. 

Tonight, President Trump will deliver his final address of the convention, formally accepting the nomination from the Republican Party.