LAS VEGAS – President Donald Trump has popped up multiple times during this week's Republican National Convention, but his big moment is scheduled for Thursday night when he is to make his case for another four years in the White House.
Trump has used the week to cast doubt on the integrity of the November election, pardon a reformed felon and put a shiny veneer on his tough immigration policies by hosting a prime-time naturalization ceremony in the White House.
His supporters have slammed his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, and misrepresented his record, airbrushed the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, sketched a softer side of the brash New York billionaire, and saluted American symbols like “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home.
And that was just three nights.
Though Republicans, like Democrats, were forced to make much of their convention virtual because of the coronavirus, the GOP has included limited in-person events, including Trump’s planned Thursday speech, which is expected to be attended by about 1,000 people.
What to watch on the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention:
Trump is scheduled to accept his party’s renomination in an address from the White House South Lawn. The decision to give the speech from an elaborate stage in front of the Executive Mansion has attracted criticism from Democrats and ethics groups for mixing politics and official business. But the independent Office of Special Counsel has said holding it on the White House grounds does not violate federal law. Trump’s address is likely to be lengthy and list his second-term priorities, but it’s too soon to say if he'll use the speech to broaden his appeal beyond his die-hard supporters. After he’s done, a fireworks show is expected to launch from the National Mall.
Trump's convention is playing out against a backdrop of turbulent reality that he will have to decide how to address. The police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has sparked a new round of protests. Hurricane Laura is bearing down on the Gulf Coast, wildfires have ravaged California and the coronavirus is killing 1,000 Americans a day.
The president will be introduced by his daughter Ivanka Trump, the fourth of his five children to speak during the convention. (Only his teenage son, Barron, is not in the lineup.) She’s expected to focus on how he’s offered to help working families, draw contrasts between her father and Biden, and include personal anecdotes about her father’s decision-making. Her stories would follow an effort by organizers throughout the convention to try to portray a softer side of a president known for his abrasive and blunt demeanor.
Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is scheduled to help close out the convention. Giuliani is known for his tough-on-crime approach during his time as New York City’s mayor, something that dovetails with the law-and-order theme the GOP has been hammering during the week. Giuliani’s work for the president hasn’t been without controversy. Beyond the percussive rhetoric he’s used to support the president, his efforts to dig up scandal in Ukraine regarding Biden’s family were at the center of the president’s impeachment last year.
MAKE AMERICA ‘GREATNESS’
The theme for the final night of the convention is “Land of Greatness,” and the lineup will include GOP congressional leaders: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. Republicans also will feature New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who switched from Democrat to Republican.
Other speakers include Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson; Dana White, president of the mixed martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship; Alice Johnson, a criminal justice advocate whose drug crime sentence Trump commuted at the urging of celebrity Kim Kardashian; evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham; and Carl and Marsha Mueller, the parents of human rights activists Kayla Mueller, slain by Islamic State militants while being held in Syria.
The Democrat has laid low this week but he's scheduled to appear at a virtual fundraiser Thursday. His running mate, Kamala Harris, also plans to give an address in Washington Thursday afternoon, hours before Trump takes the stage. Harris is scheduled to speak about the president’s “failures to contain COVID-19 and protect working families from the economic fallout,” according to the Biden campaign.
HOW TO WATCH
The program starts at 8:30 p.m. ET (a half-hour earlier than the Democratic convention last week) and runs through 11 p.m. ET. It’s available on the GOP convention’s social media channels and AT&T U-VERSE, Direct TV, Twitch, Youtube and Amazon Prime TV. CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC and PBS will air the full prime-time presentation while ABC, CBS, Fox News Channel and NBC will air the final hour, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.