President Trump‘s plans for a giant in-person convention may have been scrapped because of the coronavirus, but Republican officials said the four-day event will be filled with lively virtual programming, nightly marquee speeches and “must-see TV.”
Members of the Trump family are expected to have prominent roles, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and Trump administration officials. While the final location of Trump’s acceptance speech has not been revealed — Trump is mulling the White House — the 2020 campaign said the president’s speech will be groundbreaking.
“I can guarantee you it’s going to be an epic speech from President Trump,” Erin Perrine, Trump campaign director of press communications, said in an interview with Fox News.
With the focus no longer on an in-person event, the Republican National Committee and Trump campaign said they are better positioned than Democrat Joe Biden to deliver an entertaining virtual convention. They cite the campaign’s experience providing daily original online broadcasts and Trump’s pre-presidency history with TV.
“Those elements combined together are going to make it must-see programming and must-see TV,” Cassie Smedile, RNC deputy communications director, told Fox News. “Even if [this convention] doesn’t have thousands of people in an arena, like we’ve seen from past conventions, there will still be a lot of energy behind it.”
Although the GOP officials didn’t reveal the speaker line-up or filming locations, they previewed an important role for the First Family.
First lady Melania Trump, Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka and eldest sons Don Jr. and Eric all spoke during the 2016 convention. During the 2020 campaign, Don’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Eric’s wife, Lara Trump, have taken on prominent roles, too.
“The family is a huge part of being able to deliver our message to the American people because they know this president. They know his heart,” Perrine said. “…They’re a key member of this campaign and you’ll certainly see them involved in the convention as well.”
The Aug. 24-27 convention was originally scheduled for an arena in Charlotte. After the coronavirus pandemic forced widespread lockdowns, Republicans in June moved the events to Jacksonville, Fla., when the governor of North Carolina couldn’t guarantee the large-scale event could proceed as planned. Then in July, as coronavirus continued to rage in places like Florida, Trump canceled the Jacksonville events.
A portion of delegates will still show up in-person for a small gathering in Charlotte to cast their vote for Trump’s nomination on the first day of the convention. Each state and U.S. territory is only allowed six delegates under RNC executive committee rules approved due to COVID-19.
That means the vast majority of the delegates and alternates will be staying home and voting by proxy through the 336 delegates that will be present.
The theme of the convention will focus on the economic gains that Trump made during the first three years of his presidency, and how he’s uniquely positioned to bring the country back from the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic devastation.
“President Trump created the strongest economy in modern American history, and he’s doing it again,” Smedile said. “And expect him, his team and our party to talk a lot about how we did it once and we’re going to build it again.”
Trump, who became a household name with his TV show “The Apprentice,” appreciates the drama and production of TV programming.
“This is President Donald Trump’s convention,” Perrine said. “You should actually always expect the unexpected when it comes to the Trump campaign. We shattered the mold in 2016. Don’t expect anything less from us in 2020.”
The Democratic National Convention runs from Aug. 17 to Aug. 20.
Unlike Trump, who had until recently pushed for a big in-person convention, Biden’s team was telegraphing a virtual event for months. Biden made it official Wednesday when his campaign announced he won’t travel to the Democratic convention site in Milwaukee to accept the party’s nomination over coronavirus concerns.
Biden will deliver the acceptance speech from his home state of Delaware.