Year of Trump: Guide to Republican National Convention | NBC New York
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

Full coverage of the race for the White House

Year of Trump: Guide to Republican National Convention

Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party use their national conventions to formally nominate candidates for president and vice president



    The glitz. The glam. The speeches, protests and parties. The flamboyant presidential candidate who's giving his party heartburn.

    The 2016 Republican National Convention, kicking off Monday, will be like no other. Just ask Donald Trump, who's promised a "monumentally magnificent" display of stagecraft at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

    Whether this year's confab meets that benchmark remains to be seen. With many Republicans deeply reluctant to nominate the billionaire reality TV star, GOP organizers have struggled to attract the star power that typically graces the stage, and there were more questions than answers about what, exactly, is on the schedule once the convention is gaveled in.

    Still, the quadrennial gathering boils down to a few key pieces of business the Republican Party must carry out before it can turn its focus fully to winning the White House in November. What to know about the week:

    Security on High Alert for RNC Kick Off

    [NATL] Security on High Alert for RNC Kick Off
    This weekend's fatal police ambush in Baton Rouge has placed a renewed focus on security at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. NBC's Tracie Potts reports. (Published Monday, July 18, 2016)

    Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party use their national conventions to formally nominate candidates for president and vice president. The top figures in the party gather to showcase their nominees, and the prime-time speeches given by the candidates and other prominent politicians garner some of the largest television audiences of the campaign. That makes the convention a critical opportunity for the party to introduce its candidates to the country.

    At the convention, the Republican Party will also adopt its official party platform, a formal document that lays out the party's policy principles but has no binding effect on how its politicians ultimately govern.

    The Quicken Loans Arena, also known as "The Q," will host the convention. The home of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, the arena has been transformed with stages, platforms, cameras and lights. The site was chosen in mid-2014 after a vote by the RNC's 168 members.

    Some 50,000 GOP delegates, alternates, lawmakers and guests are expected in downtown Cleveland, along with close to 15,000 journalists from around the world.

    Of the 2,472 delegates planning to attend, many were selected at state and congressional district conventions. Others were on slates put together by the presidential campaigns. They represent the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories. Members of the RNC are automatic delegates.

    Some prominent establishment Republicans, including many up for re-election this year. Concerned that being associated with Trump may hurt their own standing with voters, those Republicans are choosing to stay away.

    GOP Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mark Kirk of Illinois and John McCain of Arizona — all on November's ballot — are bowing out. So is Mitt Romney, the party's most recent presidential nominee, and John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, where the convention is being held. 

    The party's two most recent presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, have both said they're not attending.

    Michelle Obama: When They Go Low We Go High By Voting

    [NATL] Michelle Obama: When They Go Low We Go High By Voting
    Presidential elections are decided on a “razor’s edge,” Michelle Obama told a crowd at a campaign event in North Carolina where she spoke after Hillary Clinton on Oct. 27. The first lady got a loud round of applause when she pointed out what previous generations sacrificed for the right to vote, and encouraged everyone to exercise that right.

    “Casting our vote is the ultimate way we go high when they go low,” Obama said, “Voting is our high.” (Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016)

    Trump's campaign chairman said Monday Kasich is making a "big mistake" by skipping the convention. 

    Paul Manafort said in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Kasich is "hurting his state, he's embarrassing his state, frankly" by skipping the four-day event convened to nominate Trump for president. 

    But Manafort insisted the number of holdouts has been overstated. He said "most of the Republicans who aren't coming are people who have been part of the past."


    Trump Mixes Business With Politics at DC Hotel Ceremony

    [NATL]Trump Mixes Business With Politics at DC Hotel Opening Ceremony
    As Hillary Clinton traverses battleground states across the country in the final stretch of the presidential election, Donald Trump took a detour from the campaign trail for the ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday of his Washington, D.C. hotel — but his remarks made clear the race to the White House was not far from mind. Trump claims the hotel is a symbol of what he'll do for America, noting it was completed "under budget and on schedule". (Published Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016)

    Unlike in previous years, this year's convention schedule has been a work in progress, even as delegates started arriving. Other than the fact that the convention will start on Monday and close on Thursday, few details were released early.

    Those who plan to speak include at least 20 current or former Republican politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who fought Trump in the primary. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, is also expected to speak.

    Four of Trump's children and his wife, Melania Trump, also plan to appear. Another notable speaker is Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder, who may be the first openly gay speaker featured at a national Republican convention.

    Donald Trump is making an early, surprise visit to Cleveland Monday to catch his wife's speech at the convention.

    Crowd Sings 'Happy Birthday' to Clinton in Florida

    [NATL] Crowd Sings 'Happy Birthday' to Clinton in Florida
    At an event in Coconut Creek, Florida, Hillary Clinton said that Trump is "attacking everything that has set our country apart for 240 years," pointing to his refusal at the final debate to commit to conceding the race if he loses. As she tried to make this point, the crowd erupted into singing her "Happy Birthday." Clinton turns 69 on Oct. 26. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016)

    Trump said in a phone interview with "Fox & Friends" that he'd "love to be there when my wife speaks."

    The GOP nominee-to-be added that Melania Trump's evening speech will be about "love of the country" as an immigrant.

    Trump also said he's eager to take an early look at the convention hall's stage design. Trump is scheduled to deliver his own speech Thursday on the convention's final night.

    Republicans have struggled to put together an impressive roster of nonpoliticians. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who leads the congregation that Trump's daughter, Ivanka, attends, was scheduled to appear but backed out. Former football star Tim Tebow, whom the Trump campaign had touted as an all-star get, later insisted he had no plans to attend.

    'Late Night’: Trump's Obamacare Fail

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    With the Obama administration announcing that premiums for health care would go up next year, Donald Trump had a substantial critique in his grasp. But, host Seth Meyers says, the Trump campaign missed the opportunity for a substantial critique, opting to instead make strange appeals to black voters. (Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016)

    In their stead, Republicans will have a lineup that so far includes actor and former underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr. and pro golfer Natalie Gulbis.

    Democrats, in contrast, have nabbed entertainers like Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz and Cyndi Lauper for their convention the following week in Philadelphia.

    Finalizing the rules for the convention is critical this year, because of the long-simmering threat by anti-Trump delegates to try to oust him at the convention. Delegates are expected to approve the convention's rules when the gathering begins Monday.

    Though Trump won more delegates in the primaries than he needs, his foes sought to use a rules change to "unbind" delegates so they could cast a vote of "conscience" and back someone other than Trump despite the verdict of voters in their states.

    Warren to Trump 'Nasty Women' Vote

    [NATL] Warren to Trump 'Nasty Women' Vote
    Hillary Clinton is joined by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Oct. 24, 2016. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016)

    Those hopes were quashed in a rules committee meeting last week, in which that proposal was resoundingly defeated. Still, social conservatives and others were spending the weekend strategizing. They hope to force procedural votes in long-shot bids to potentially derail Trump's nomination.

    The dissidents are outnumbered and are up against party leaders who control the gavel and are intent on a smoothly run event. Even so, Trump's foes could prove noisy and disruptive.

    The high point of the week's pageantry will come in the formal roll-call vote to nominate Trump, likely Tuesday or Wednesday, in which each state will have its turn to announce how its delegates are voting.

    Trump arrives with 1,543 delegates, according to the Associated Press count. That number includes 1,448 delegates required under party rules to vote for Trump on the first ballot, and 95 unbound delegates who have publicly endorsed Trump.

    'Late Night’: Presidential Debate

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: Presidential Debate Between Clinton & Trump
    Host Seth Meyers presides over another “Late Night” presidential debate. Splicing and slicing clips between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Meyers presents the audience with a jousting of word between the two candidates. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016)

    It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination.

    Cleveland authorities are preparing for potentially thousands of protesters, a common occurrence at political conventions but especially likely this year. A protest area has been established just outside the convention site.

    Security concerns are particularly high this year due to racial tensions and civilian-police violence across the United States, plus recent mass casualty events including a nightclub shooting in Orlando and Islamic State group-linked attacks outside the U.S.

    Officials have locked down a perimeter around the arena and set up barricades, and security was stepped up further after the truck attack Thursday in Nice, France.

    Trump Will Honor Election Results 'If I Win'

    [NATL] Trump Will Honor Presidential Election Results 'If I Win'
    Donald Trump said that he would accept the presidential election results if they were in his favor during a rally in Ohio on Oct. 20, 2016. (Published Monday, Oct. 24, 2016)

    The convention will end, as usual, with a massive balloon drop over the heads of delegates on the floor, while cameras roll and music blares. In the arena, thousands of red, white and blue balloons have been pre-positioned on the ceiling.

    The festivities continue outside the arena, where state GOP parties, political groups and media organizations have organized hundreds of parties, receptions and seminars.

    'Late Night’: Trump’s Closing Arguments

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Donald Trump’s Closing Arguments
    With the election nearing, host Seth Meyers looks at how Donald Trump’s campaign is wrapping up the election cycle. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016)