Republicans are ready to formally nominate President Donald Trump for reelection at a scaled-down convention kick-off in Charlotte that begins a week-long effort to convince the American people that the president deserves a second term.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, delegates will hold an in-person roll-call vote in a ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Centre in North Carolina before attention turns to prime-time programming.
It is a sharp contrast to the approach of Democrats, who created a roll call via video montage from states across the country to avoid a large-scale gathering last week at their well-received virtual convention.
The Republican convention is a crucial moment for Mr Trump, who is trailing in national and battleground state polls and under intense pressure to turn the race around.
Aides hope the convention will give them a chance to recast the story of Mr Trump’s presidency and shift the campaign’s thrust from a referendum on him to a choice between his vision for the US’s future and the one presented by Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“This is a kick-off to many weeks of this heading into Election Day,” RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in an interview.
“I don’t think we’re going to slow down.”
Mr Trump, for his part, said he was hoping to set an optimistic tone.
“I think we’re going to see something that is going to be very uplifting and positive.
“That’s what I’d like it to be,” he said in an interview that aired on Sunday on Fox News Channel.
For both sides, it is an unconventional convention year.
The parties’ election-year gatherings are typically massive events, drawing thousands of delegates, party leaders, donors, journalists and political junkies for a week of speeches, parties and after-parties that inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy and put the nominee in the spotlight.
But the coronavirus has changed all that, as much as Mr Trump has resisted.
Just 336 delegates, six from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and US territories, have been invited to cast proxy votes on behalf of the more than 2,500 regular delegates.
And stringent safety measures have been put in place guided by a 42-page health and safety plan developed by a hired doctor.
Delegates have been asked to practise enhanced social distancing and get tested prior to travel, fill out a pre-travel health questionnaire and participate in a daily symptom tracker.
They are also being tested onsite and receiving daily health screenings, have been asked to maintain a six-foot distance from other people and to use face coverings as a condition of participation.
The RNC has also committed to contacting every participant five, 14 and 21 days after the event to check on potential symptoms.
After the Charlotte kick-off, most of the Republican convention will take place in Washington, DC, at and around the White House, as well as by video.
It will feature remarks from a long list of well-known Trump supporters, including members of the Trump family, conservative firebrands and everyday Americans whom campaign officials say have been helped by Trump’s policies.
First lady Melania Trump will speak on Tuesday from the Rose Garden, Vice President Mike Pence will appear from Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Wednesday, and Mr Trump will deliver his marquee acceptance speech on Thursday from the South Lawn before a crowd of supporters, blurring the lines between governing and campaigning yet again.
Published: 24/08/2020 by Radio NewsHub