The time has finally come where the Republicans officially welcome Donald Trump and his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as their choice for America’s next President. The 2016 Republican Convention is here, and while, the speakers list isn’t so impressive, you can be sure it’ll be plenty of horn blowing from the Donald.
Republicans and the reporters who buzz around them will descend on Cleveland July 18 for the GOP National Convention, a four-day event that will culminate in the party’s official nomination of businessman Donald Trump for president.
The Republican primary was a rollercoaster ride for the ages. Questions of a so-called contested convention haunted the process until early May, after Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz pulled the plug on their respective campaigns and cleared the path for Trump. Republicans who remained decisively anti-Trump — popularized in the #NeverTrump Twitter movement — made a failed attempt at stopping the businessman from collecting the nomination in the final days before the convention. They had hoped to unbind delegates, allowing convention delegates to vote for whichever candidate they wanted and potentially forcing multiple rounds of voting at the meeting.
But with that drama out of the way, and Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for vice president made official on Friday, convention-goers can focus on the speeches, balloon-dropping and pomp and circumstance that often define the event. Graphiq politics siteInsideGov takes a look at the convention and highlights the important facts and figures making waves at this year’s GOP meeting.
Quicken Loans Arena
Cleveland’s downtown Quicken Loans Arena has undergone a major transition in the few weeks since the NBA Finals wrapped up, switching from a sports venue to a political hub.
The arena has been configured to hold about 21,000 during the convention, which is a bit more than its regular capacity. The space will include floor seats for the 2,473 delegates, not to mention two 500-ton air-conditioning units and 100,000 balloons, according to local news reports.
Security in Cleveland
While the turmoil within the GOP has largely subsided, law enforcement officials are gearing up for a raucous few days outside of the event. Many Republicans anticipate violence at the convention, while the head of Homeland Security, Secretary Jeh Johnson, said he is “concerned about the prospect of demonstrations getting out of hand.”
According to NBC News, 5,000 police officers will be on hand when the convention kicks off, including 300 officers on bikes who will focus on diffusing tension between groups. The Cleveland police chief also said he would prefer people not bring firearms to the convention, although he noted the state is an open carry state, meaning people are allowed to carry unconcealed, loaded firearms. NBC reported no guns will be allowed inside the convention or in the area immediately outside it, but they will be permissible in the larger surrounding space.
GOPers Not Attending
Trump has been a polarizing figure in the presidential race since his controversial announcement speech. But some Republicans have taken that to the next level, saying they will not attend this year’s convention.
As the visualization shows, 22 GOPers — including the last two Republican presidents and the last two Republican presidential candidates — have said they will not attend the convention.
Joni Ernst: Prime-Time Speaker
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst stormed onto the national stage during the 2014 midterm elections, when her team released a memorable campaign ad called “Squeal” that compared cutting government spending to hog castration. She quickly became a GOP darling, delivering her party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2015.
A one-time rumored VP candidate for the Trump ticket, Ernst ended up snagging a prime-time speaking slot (details still TBD) at the 2016 convention. This is a big get for any politician — considering how many people tune in for these nationally televised events — but the audience could be even larger this year, considering how much media attention Trump has received. For context, according to data from Nielsen, more than 30 million people tuned in for the final night of the convention in 2012, and almost 39 million people watched the final night of 2008.
A Socially Conservative Platform
In the week leading up to the convention, Republicans met in Cleveland to draft the party’s platform. It reflected very conservative stances, especially on social issues like abortion and rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The New York Times reported that the platform calls for overturning the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2015; it also discusses appointing judges to the Court “who respect traditional family values.” The platform also weighs in on so-called bathroom bills, which restrict which public restrooms transgender people are allowed to use. The Times also reported that the platform “stated ‘natural marriage’ between a man and a woman is most likely to result in offspring who do not become drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.”
In the end, the GOP platform is thoroughly conservative, a marked difference from Trump. The businessman tends to notch a more moderate ideology score overall, as the visualization below shows.
However, Trump has proven to be the master of changing his mind this election season, going back-and-forth on topics like abortion and the bathroom bills. How much this platform will impact his views — or how he talks on the campaign trail — remains to be seen.
Here’s the full viewing guide for the 2016 Republican Convention:
The convention will kick off at 1 p.m. ET with a day focused on two issues: Benghazi and illegal immigration.
The day’s headliner is Melania Trump — with her husband planning to make an appearance and might even introduce his wife.
Donald Trump teased the possibility of speaking Monday morning in an interview with Fox News.
“I’d love to be there when my wife speaks, so the answer is yes, I will be there,” he said, adding that he might speak as well.
But making the case for Trump on national security will be retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was under consideration for the vice presidential nomination, as well as several lawmakers with military backgrounds, including Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and a former Navy SEAL, Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana.
Other speakers include Jamiel Shaw, whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant, as well as Benghazi attack survivors Mark Geist and John Tiegen. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who has advised Trump on immigration and national security, will also speak.
Expect the day’s theme to be unloading on Clinton — who Republicans still view as to blame for the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya — and on Obama, who they blame for failing to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
There’s a major piece of business that Republicans will address Tuesday: Officially nominating Trump for president and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for vice president.
The nomination — after the day’s program kicks off at 5:30 p.m. ET — takes place on a day otherwise focused on the economy.
Perhaps capturing the most attention from political insiders will be House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Endangered Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, one of the few Republicans facing tough re-election match-ups to embrace Trump, will speak, as will New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who just lost out in the vice presidential sweepstakes.
Two of Trump’s children are also on the calendar to speak Tuesday night. Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are among the headliners.
Trump is also bringing his own employees onto the stage. Kerry Woolard, the general manager of Trump Winery, will discuss her work alongside the presumptive Republican nominee in a prime-time speaking slot.
The night will also feature a broad range of non-political speakers — including UFC president Dana White, golfer Natalie Gulbis and actress Kimberlin Brown.
Themed “Make America First Again,” the day’s speakers will make the case that United States’ leadership role in the world has slipped under Obama and could be restored by Trump. The night kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.
The night’s most prominent speech will come from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — who, as the GOP vice presidential candidate, will be the prime-time headliner.
Another close Trump ally and vice presidential contender, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is up Wednesday evening, as is Eric Trump, another of Trump’s sons.
Many Republicans will be closely watching three relatively young contenders in the 2016 primary: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. All three would be possible candidates in 2020 if Trump loses this year. Rubio won’t be there in person but is submitting a video message.
The final night of the convention, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, is Trump’s night.
He’ll deliver a speech that’ll be closely watched both inside the arena and on television everywhere. The big question: Will he play to the enthusiastically partisan crowd in person, or will he stick to a script and try to expand his appeal to a broader audience?
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will appear at what could be the end of his six-year tenure as party chair.
Several Trump allies will speak, too. Tom Barrack, a long-time Trump friend, real estate investor and head of the investment firm Colony Capital, as well as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, are slated to appear.
Thiel is gay — a reality that makes for an awkward clash with a party that rejected efforts to moderate its platform’s approach to LGBT issues.
Leading into Trump will be perhaps his most effective surrogate: His daughter, Ivanka Trump.