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Lesson Plans

Republican National Convention begins with Trump speech

August 25, 2020

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video, and answer the discussion questions. To read the transcript of the video above, click here

Summary: The Republican National Convention began Monday, August 24, with a roll call of state delegates and the formal renomination of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. While the Democratic Convention the previous week was entirely virtual due to COVID-19 concerns, the Republican Convention featured a mix of pre-recorded, virtual speeches and some downsized in-person events in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

  • The first day included a surprise speech by President Trump himself.
  • Trump’s opening speech included many exaggerations and false claims. For instance, he claimed that he had accomplished more in the three and a half years of his presidency than any previous president had accomplished.
  • Speakers during the nighttime portion of the event included established voices such as former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott along with celebrities and citizens who highlighted cultural grievances and warned of a dark future under a Biden presidency.

Warm up questions:

  1. What is a party nominating convention, and what purpose does it serve as part of the election cycle?
  2. What is different about the nominating conventions this year than normal convention years?

Focus question: How do you think the Republican and Democratic parties are appealing to voters in this election?

Media literacy: President Trump is currently set to speak every day of the convention, Monday through Thursday. Traditionally, the nominee only speaks one night at the end of the convention to give an acceptance speech. Why do you think Trump has chosen to speak every night, and what sort of appeal to voters is he making in doing so?

Extension activity: One traditional purpose of party nominating conventions is for party leaders to gather and develop a party platform, which is a document of policy goals and political positions intended to guide the party for the next four years.

This year, the Republican Party has skipped debating a platform and instead produced a document affirming its support for President Trump and his agenda. Have students compare the 2020 platform document with the 2016 platform here, and then answer the following questions.

  • Do you think party platforms are important? Why or why not?
  • What do you notice about the differences in tone and format of these documents?
  • Do you think party platforms help inform potential voters about political priorities? If not, what does?
  • Do you think party platforms should be the same as presidential candidate agendas? Why or why not?
  • If you wanted to best determine how a party would govern if elected, where should you look for information?

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