By Lucia Leal
Washington, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- The Republican Party on Monday will launch this election cycle’s virtual party convention, which will reserve for President Donald Trump the role of sole “star” and will appeal to Latino voters by comparing the Democratic opposition to the “socialism” of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.
According to media reports, the president is scheduled to make a personal appearance on each of the convention’s four nights, breaking with the tradition that normally has reserved for the last night the debut of the party’s presidential candidate, along with his nomination acceptance speech.
Just as during the Democratic convention last week, at which former Vice President Joe Biden was nominated to go up against Trump, who is running for reelection, the GOP conclave will also be held almost fully online, but – in contrast to the opposition party – the Republicans have reorganized the event in less than a month, since Trump gave up on his plan to stage a huge political show in Jacksonville, Florida, with little if any consideration for social distancing or other precautions amid the expanding coronavirus pandemic.
Although the Democratic convention reserved key spots for the party’s big names – including all its living ex-presidents – the Republican event will place less emphasis on party statesmen and more on Trump’s inner circle, including family members, albeit with room for conservative Internet personalities and political stars pondering their own White House runs in 2024.
Trump will accept his party’s presidential nod for the second time in a a live speech to be broadcast on Aug. 27 from the White House, a venue the selection of which has sparked criticism since it flies in the face of the longstanding rule that presidents must not use the official presidential residence or other federal buildings for campaign events.
Vice President Mike Pence will give his own speech a day prior to Trump’s from another federal government facility, Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, well-known for being the site of an 1812 battle against the British that inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the US national anthem.
The keynote speaker on Tuesday night will be first lady Melania Trump, while the president’s four adult children – Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric and Tiffany – are also slated to speak individually at some point during the convention, according to campaign personnel.
On Monday, the action will focus on Charlotte, North Carolina, which was to be the original site for the GOP conclave before the coronavirus pandemic exploded, and it is there that a mere 300 party delegates will gather in person to formally nominate the president for a second term.
Later, after the North Carolina venue refused to allow a fully in-person, maskless convention with tens of thousands of people crammed into the selected convention hall, Trump decided to move the event to Florida, but that plan was later shelved as well in favor of a largely virtual conclave.
The main theme all week long will be paying tribute to the expanse of US history with several slogans: “Land of promise” on Monday, “Land of opportunity” on Tuesday, “Land of heroes” on Wednesday and “Land of greatness” on Thursday.
The Republicans are also planning to highlight “regular Americans” whose personal stories are filled with hope and patriotism, as well as people who have lived under the “dangers of socialism,” including some who have fled Cuba or Venezuela, a reelection campaign committee spokesperson told reporters.
Although Biden clearly belongs to the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, Trump and his campaign are insisting that if the former VP wins the White House he will boost the more progressive elements of the party and will transform the US into “a socialist country.”
Trump, at a campaign rally last Wednesday in Yuma, Arizona, claimed that the US will be like Venezuela, but “on steroids.”
The Latino vote will be a key element in swing states such as Florida and Arizona, and although Trump lost the Latino vote by a huge margin in 2016, some surveys have found that Hispanics this time around could be slightly most disposed to back him.
Regarding the details that have been released so far on the convention, the most controversial aspect has been allowing Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a couple facing charges in St. Louis, Missouri, for having pointed an automatic pistol and assault rifle at peaceful demonstrators who were passing by their home there in June.
The Trump campaign will thus accent its stance against the protests that erupted all around the US in June against police violence and racism, when the president lambasted the demonstrators as “terrorists” without distinguishing between the vast majority of peaceful protesters and the small minority who were taking advantage of the situation to stage violent incidents or to loot.
Another of the US citizens who will be given a forum at the convention will be Nick Sandmann, a young white Trump supporter who sued several media outlets for their alleged biased coverage of a confrontation he had with an older Native American man in front of the Lincoln Memorial in 2019, a situation that was captured on a video that went viral.
Also among the speakers at the convention will be several Republican politicians who have begun suggesting their interest in aspiring to the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, when Trump – if he is reelected – will have come to the end of his constitutionally mandated maximum of eight years in office.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, is the person with the highest political profile in this group, but Sen. Tom Cotton – known for his hardline stances on immigration issues, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott will also be given speaking time.