Shortly after the delegation from Florida – Trump’s adopted home state – delivered the votes that officially put him over the top, Trump told delegates his victory is essential because “our country could go in a horrible, horrible direction, or an even greater direction” under his watch.
“Success brings unity. We were there. Then we got hit with the plague. We won’t forget that,” said Trump, appearing in-person to take a victory lap, blaming the “China virus” for his struggles in the polls.
He claimed the administration’s progress fighting the coronavirus pandemic is “unheard of” and that a Joe Biden victory would derail the effort. And he repeatedly asserted Democrats are “trying to steal the election” through mail-in ballots.
“The only way they can take this election away from us is if it’s a rigged election,” said Trump, who was repeatedly interrupted by chants of “four more years” and “U-S-A.”
Rather than a raucous celebration at a packed arena, each delegation sent six members to Charlotte to carry out the convention’s formal business. Georgia was represented by state GOP chair David Shafer, who submitted the state’s 76 delegates for the president with a shout-out to U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Gov. Brian Kemp.
The four-day convention will feature some of the party’s premier figures and possible 2024 candidates, as well as administration officials and Trump family members. The only Georgian listed among the speakers, however, is Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones - who was branded a “traitor” earlier this year after he endorsed Trump.
Vice President Mike Pence, who will speak on Wednesday, also made an unscheduled stop to the city’s convention center to praise the delegates and promise he would “work my heart out” to deliver a second term to the president.
“Men and women of the Republican National Convention: It’s on. Now is the time,” Pence said during brief remarks.
Democrats used their party’s convention last week to argue the underpinnings of American democracy hang in the balance this November. This week, Republicans will highlight four years of the Trump administration and promises he delivered on, such as overturning business regulations, pulling out of international agreements, appointing two U.S. Supreme Court justices and transforming the U.S. immigration system.
While Democrats held an entirely virtual convention, pulled off without any major technical mishaps, the Republicans are holding a pared-down version of an in-person gathering on Monday in Charlotte. The convention runs through Thursday and includes a presidential speech from the White House South Lawn and a vice presidential address from Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
The convention was originally scheduled to be held in Charlotte until Trump moved it to Jacksonville, Florida, with the hope the Republican-led state would allow thousands to attend. But Trump had to scrap that plan as coronavirus cases continued to climb.
Here’s what to watch at the convention:
Renomination and the platform
The GOP has planned for six delegates from each state and territory, for a total of 336, to attend in-person proceedings for the convention’s first day in Charlotte. They’ll hold a roll-call vote to renominate the president, but it won’t be a prime-time affair. The voting will take place Monday morning, with a recap shown during the evening’s programming. Delegates will also vote on several resolutions, including measures defending October’s Columbus Day holiday, which honors the 15th century explorer, and opposing “cancel culture.”
Trump gives a formal acceptance speech Thursday night from the South Lawn, but he’s expected to make an appearance every night in the 10 p.m. Eastern hour. It’s unclear to what extent he’ll make remarks, but Monday’s theme, “Land of Promise” highlights how Trump helped renew the American dream. Speakers are likely to renew Trump’s focus from last week drawing contrasts with his Democratic opponent and portraying Biden as an ineffective career politician and a “puppet of the radical left,” aligning him with progressives like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Hints for 2024
Republicans seen as potential 2024 presidential candidates are sprinkled throughout the week’s proceedings. On Monday, two potential contenders from the Palmetto State will get their chance in the spotlight: Former Ambassador to the U.N. and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, followed by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who is set to give the prominent closing speech.
Monday includes some of the president’s staunchest supporters, such as Reps. Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz; Charlie Kirk, the president of the pro-Trump organization Turning Point USA; the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is also the campaign’s national finance chair.
Others include House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. Also speaking: Tanya Weinreis, a Montana coffee shop owner who received federal loans to pay her employees during the coronavirus; Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida; and Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who waved firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home this summer.
After Democrats pointedly included Republicans during their convention, Republicans have one slated to speak Monday: Vernon Jones, a Democratic state lawmaker from Georgia who endorsed Trump.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.