NATIONAL NEWS

GOP Delegates Open Convention To Renominate Trump For 2020

Aug 24, 2020, 10:02 AM | Updated: 10:47 am
Delegate holds up a hat on the first day of the Republican National Convention at the Charlotte Con...
Delegate holds up a hat on the first day of the Republican National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center on August 24, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The four-day event is themed "Honoring the Great American Story." (Photo by Chris Carlson-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Carlson-Pool/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Republicans gathered Monday to formally nominate President Donald Trump for reelection at a scaled-down convention kickoff in Charlotte that begins a weeklong effort to convince the American people that the president deserves a second term.

Delegates are holding an in-person meeting and roll-call vote in the ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center before attention turns to prime-time programming.

It’s 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.

“We are obviously disappointed we could not hold this event in the same way we had originally planned,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said as she began the proceedings. But she thanked the city for allowing the convention to move forward in its truncated form.

For both sides, it’s 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 deliver a multiday infomercial for the nominee.

But the coronavirus has changed all that. Just 336 delegates — six from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. 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.

Attendees were asked to practice enhanced social distancing and get tested prior to travel, fill out a pre-travel health questionnaire and participate in a daily symptom tracker. They’re also being tested onsite, have been asked to maintain a 6-foot (1.8-meter) distance from other people and to use face coverings as a condition of participation — though many attendees were seen openly flouting those rules Monday morning. 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 kickoff, most of the GOP convention will take place in Washington, D.C., 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 who campaign officials say have been helped by Trump’s policies.

First lady Melania Trump will speak Tuesday from the Rose Garden, Vice President Mike Pence will appear from Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Wednesday and Trump will deliver his marquee acceptance speech on Thursday from the South Lawn before a crowd of supporters.

“It’s a different world,” Trump told reporters. “To have a big convention is not the right time.”

Besides the formal nomination roll call, the party is also approving a handful of new resolutions, including one that backs Columbus Day as a federal holiday and one that labels the Southern Poverty Law Center, which catalogs the country’s hate groups, as a “radical organization.” Another bemoans “cancel culture,” warning that it “has grown into erasing of history, encouraging lawlessness, muting citizens, and violating free exchange of ideas, thoughts, and speech.”

But they will not vote on a new 2020 platform, after a unanimous vote to forgo one this year.

“RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda,” a resolution instead reads, in part.

___

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

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GOP Delegates Open Convention To Renominate Trump For 2020