Republicans are holding their election convention in the United States. The Republican Party is preparing to officially nominate President Donald Trump for re-election to a second term. The team of the current owner of the White House is tasked with minimizing the gap shown by opinion polls between Trump and his main rival Democrat Biden.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Republican delegates will hold a personal roll-call vote in the ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center, North Carolina. This is in stark contrast to the approach of the Democrats, who organized the roll call from states across the country by video editing to avoid a large-scale gathering last week at their virtual convention when the Democratic Party officially nominated Joe Biden as its candidate.
The Republican National Convention in this pandemic year receives no more than 336 delegates – six from each state, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories (for comparison: at a similar convention in 2016 there were more than 2,400). These delegates were tasked with meeting in Charlotte to conduct a roll-call vote and formally nominate Trump as the United States presidential candidate.
The Republicans had to replay their plans for holding a pre-election convention several times. At first, it was planned that it will be held in Charlotte as a traditional private meeting, but after a clash with the governor of North Carolina due to pandemic restrictions, it was decided to move most of the convention to Jacksonville, Florida. However, at the end of July, Trump canceled part of the Jacksonville convention altogether, as cases of infection rose in the state. The party then switched to a more digital approach to the campaign. By contrast, the Democrats have repurposed their convention since June, making it fully digital.
Delegates to the Republican Party Forum will have to face heightened social distancing rules, get tested before traveling to the convention, fill out a health questionnaire, and participate in daily symptom tracking. Participants in the convention will also undergo daily medical examinations and are asked to use face masks as a condition of participation in the event.
Following the launch of the Charlotte Forum, most of the GOP convention will take place in Washington DC, in and around the White House, and via video link.
The four-day Republican Convention, which will be held from August 24 to 27, is marked by the theme “In Honor of Great American History.” The party forum will feature ordinary Americans who will testify about how President Trump has influenced their lives. Among the speakers expected, for example, are married couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey from St. Louis, who brandished their guns in the direction of protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement. Or Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in 2018 during a school massacre in Parkland, Florida. Or Tanya Weinreis, a Montana coffee shop owner whose business and workers’ livelihoods were saved amid the pandemic by a federal bailout program. Or Alice Johnson, whose jail sentence was commuted by Trump.
The GOP convention is a defining moment for Trump, who loses out to Biden in national and state polls. Presidential aides hope the convention will give them an opportunity to rethink the history of the Trump presidency and shift the focus of the campaign to a choice between his vision of America’s future and that of Joe Biden, whom Republicans will portray as an ineffective career politician and a “puppet of the radical left”.
Meanwhile, a new CBS News / YouGov poll conducted after the Democratic National Convention demonstrates Biden’s leadership by a large margin (52%) among likely voters – while 42% of those polled are ready to vote for Trump. So it depends on how the Republican party congress is held – whether Trump will be able to take at least a few percent from his main rival.