The Republican National Convention schedule has yet to be released, but it appears the reflexively anti-Washington Republican Party will hold a Washington-focused event. Some speeches during the August 24–27 convention are set to take place in a federally owned hall near the Trump International Hotel, and others will be taped with Uncle Sam’s more photogenic properties serving as backdrops.
It’s not 100 percent clear where President Trump will deliver his acceptance speech, but the South Lawn of the White House seems most likely. He and his minions are very clearly brushing aside bipartisan legal and ethical concerns about the use of public property for partisan political events. If public employees become very involved, they could be vulnerable to prosecution under the Hatch Act.
Several hundred delegates holding proxies for others will still gather a few hundred miles away in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will dutifully renominate Trump and Mike Pence on Monday. (Charlotte was the original convention site before Trump pitched a fit about COVID-19 restrictions and moved nonessential business to Jacksonville, Florida, where the pandemic eventually killed the plans there as well.)
The center of attention in D.C. will be Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, according to Politico:
The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, a grand historic federal building located close to the Trump International Hotel, will serve as a “central hub” for speeches, according to two people familiar with the plans. Over the years, the building’s column-lined ballroom has been the location for a variety of notable moments — from the signing ceremony for the North American Treaty Organization to scenes for the walk-and-talk political drama “The West Wing.” And now it will serve as a key site for a pandemic-upended 2020 RNC.
That would certainly cater to Trump’s personal preference for Hollywood-quality TV productions, but I digress.
The convention will spread out across federal properties in, and possibly, around Washington. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to deliver their acceptance speeches on federal property — including even the White House — as the Republicans scramble to rework the event following a resurgence of the coronavirus.
… Social distancing guidelines in the nation’s capital currently limit gatherings to 50 people. Federal buildings are exempt from the restrictions but a person familiar with the plans said no large gatherings are expected. “There will be no large crowds or audiences at Mellon Auditorium,” the person said. The office of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has sparred with Trump numerous times this year, did not respond to questions about the event.
So, to be clear, an event whose location was once determined entirely by Trump’s desire for a huge, sweaty, cheering throng chanting his name will become a virtual convention just like the Democratic event this week, with the exception of those strange business sessions in Charlotte.
If you are going to hold a political event in Washington, you might as well go with the obvious thematics, which Republicans intend to do:
The theme of the convention will be “honoring the great American story,” according to one of the people, and will include events that recognize Americans who have been helped by Trump’s accomplishments — similar to a State of the Union Address.
That’s what is known in the biz as “real people.” It’s less clear how many Republican pols will have featured roles:
Each of the four nights, starting Aug. 24, is expected to include both in-person and virtual speakers, as well as live and taped appearances. In addition to speeches from the president and vice president, First Lady Melania Trump is expected to speak, as is Charlie Kirk, president and founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA, according to a person familiar with his plans.
Vice-President Pence, we are told, may speak from Fort McHenry near Baltimore, the site of the composition of the lyrics for the national anthem during a battle in the War of 1812. That location would make his speaking theme pretty obvious.
But most of the show will be right down in the Swamp. The benefit to Trump’s hotel, already a must-stay hostelry for Republicans visiting our nation’s capital, will raise some eyebrows and a few Democratic hackles. As always, though, Republicans will follow their leader wherever he chooses to drag them in his restless search for an appropriate setting for his apotheosis as the restorer of American Greatness.