2020 Election Live Updates: At the R.N.C. This Week, Trump Will Take Center Stage

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Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

It’s the Republicans’ turn in the prime-time spotlight this week, and the party led by a former reality TV star is planning to rely on him throughout its weeklong convention as the “talent in chief.”

President Trump is set to speak every night of the Republican National Convention — an unusually active role for an incumbent president. He will be responding each night to the Democratic program, which pinned the blame for the ongoing spread of the coronavirus on his failure of leadership, officials involved in the planning said.

But the full schedule for the convention has been a closely guarded secret, in part because Mr. Trump wants an element of surprise, and in part because the program has been coming together in real time.

Speakers are expected to include Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the Missouri couple who pointed weapons at Black protesters in June, and Nicholas Sandmann, the Kentucky teenager who sued news outlets over coverage of his encounter last year with a Native American protester in Washington. There is likely going to be a video that addresses what Mr. Trump has branded the “Russia hoax.”

A “Democrats for Trump” segment also is planned, though the participants remain a closely guarded secret. Current and former officials with speaking slots include Senator Tim Scott, the sole Black Republican in the Senate, and two people seen as likely presidential contenders in 2024: Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador, and Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

White House officials including Dan Scavino, Mr. Trump’s former golf caddie who is now deputy chief of staff for communications; Larry Kudlow, the national economic adviser; and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, are also scheduled to speak.

The Republicans’ celebration is being led by longtime Trump loyalists such as the White House advisers Ms. Conway and Hope Hicks; Justin Clark, the president’s deputy campaign manager; and Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law. Tony Sayegh, a former Treasury Department official who was brought on as a consultant for the convention, is overseeing plans along with Max Miller, the former White House official who was put in charge of campaign events after Mr. Trump’s sparsely attended rally in Tulsa, Okla., earlier this summer.

Privately, Republican aides admit it was a mistake to lower expectations for Mr. Biden’s address to the Democrats’ virtual convention last week, and that Mr. Trump’s rival had benefited as a result.

But, the aides said, they were happy about one thing: expectations for their convention this week are low, as well.

Ahead of the Washington-based speeches, Republican delegates gathered over the weekend in Charlotte, N.C., for the only in-person component of either party’s convention week, a public display that Mr. Trump had sought and that the Republican National Committee had deemed important, at least symbolically.

The delegates were set to participate in a roll call inside the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday. Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to attend.

Credit…Travis Dove for The New York Times

The Republican convention that is unfolding as delegates gather in Charlotte this weekend is nothing like anyone envisioned more than two years ago, when the city was selected to host a raucous gathering to renominate President Trump. There were going to be parties and after-parties, and the city expected $200 million of economic impact.

But despite the pandemic’s upending the carefully laid plans of both parties, there is, against all odds, still a convention in town. It is modest, and contained to a coronavirus-tested bubble inside the Westin hotel and the Charlotte Convention Center down the street. It is not what Americans will see next week, when the Republicans stage a prime-time program on television. Mr. Trump will deliver his renomination speech from the White House.

But keeping in place at least a piece of an in-person convention, in the original host city, has been a priority for the Republican National Committee, both symbolically and procedurally. An in-person roll call on Monday, which will formally renominate Mr. Trump from inside the convention center, was seen as a statement of where the party stands on lockdowns. The president and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to attend.

Even the scaled-back event has been tricky to pull off. The delegates participating were required to take at-home tests before arriving, and they were to be tested daily once they were in town. They are required to wear masks at all times, even outdoors. The R.N.C. has spent half a million dollars on tests and safety measures, according to officials, and has drafted a 42-page health plan, but it still had to get an exemption from the state to host a large indoor gathering of out-of-towners.

Credit…Travis Dove for The New York Times

On to Charlotte!

OK, not really. But with the Democrats’ virtual convention behind us, and drawing generally strong reviews, attention is turning to what the Republicans might do with their time in the spotlight, which starts on Monday.

In some ways, having the Democrats go first was good for President Trump’s party. Democrats got to take the virtual car out on a test ride and, presumably, the Republican National Committee got some good ideas for their own convention. And it’s always better to go second and have the last word. On the other hand, the bar has been set fairly high by the Democrats.

Here’s a list of things we’ll be looking for when the Republican convention is gaveled to order:

  • Democrats sketched a rich and sympathetic portrait of their candidate, walking viewers through the formative tragedies of his life. Next week should provide a test of whether that dissuades Mr. Trump from going after Mr. Biden. And if Mr. Biden gets a bit of a pass, will Senator Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden’s running mate, become the lightning rod?

  • How much attention will be paid to the pandemic? Mr. Trump’s campaign has already dismissed the Democratic convention as grim and gloomy, with its focus on the devastation being wrought by the coronavirus. Will Republicans offer a more optimistic vision of how the nation is managing the virus, or push the issue into a corner?

  • Will Republicans be as diligent about wearing masks and social distancing as Democrats were through the week? Or will they be deliberately and conspicuously more lax, making a political statement as well as a health one?

  • Will Mr. Trump use this platform to lay out a second-term agenda? Democrats are betting he will not. “He’s not going to change,” said Rahm Emanuel, who was White House chief of staff when Mr. Biden was vice president. “He’s not going to offer an inclusionary, second-term agenda.”

  • Will Mr. Trump (and, for that matter, Vice President Mike Pence) allow this convention to promote the next generation of potential presidential candidates? And will we see as many non-politicians — a.k.a. regular Americans — in prime spots as we saw at the Democratic convention?

  • Will there be a lineup of Hollywood stars to give the convention more celebrity power? Will the Republicans have the kind of musical production numbers to counter the Democrats, who offered performances by, among others, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson? (Ronna McDaniel, the R.N.C. chairwoman, told us this week that the convention would shun Hollywood celebrities in favor of “real people.”)

  • The speaking roster at the Democratic convention had a heavy representation every night of people of color and women. Will this be a priority for Republicans as well?

  • Democrats put the virtual campaign to good use, turning to imaginative and highly produced videos to showcase voters and party leaders, and for such convention fixtures as the keynote and the roll call. Will Republican convention planners do the same, or stick with the old script?

Credit…Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

Maryanne Trump Barry, President Trump’s older sister and a former federal judge, described him as a liar who has “no principles” in a series of audio recordings made by her niece, Mary L. Trump, in 2018 and 2019.

The recordings were provided to The Washington Post, which published them online Saturday night. In them, Ms. Barry can be heard disparaging her brother’s performance as president.

“His goddamned tweet and the lying, oh my God,” she says in one of the recordings. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying.”

According to The Post, Ms. Trump secretly recorded 15 hours of face-to-face conversations with Ms. Barry about the president and his upbringing while working on her recently released book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”

The recordings she shared include some material that was in the book — like an allegation that Mr. Trump cheated to get into college by having someone else take the SAT for him — as well as material, like Ms. Barry’s criticism, that was not in the book.

“Every day it’s something else,” Mr. Trump said in a statement released by the White House on Saturday. “Who cares?”

On Aug. 7, the student newspaper at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst reported that the state chapter of the College Democrats had disinvited Alex Morse, a congressional candidate and former guest lecturer at the university, from its future events, claiming “numerous incidents” of unwanted and inappropriate advances toward students.

Then messages were published by The Intercept showing that members of the College Democrats had discussed how they might damage Mr. Morse’s campaign, with one suggesting it might help his career prospects with Mr. Morse’s opponent, Representative Richard E. Neal, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Today, Mr. Morse is still in the race and says the allegations have only helped his campaign. And the allegations and their aftermath offer a case study in how progressives are navigating issues of sex and power in politics.

Read the full story here.

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