Donald Trump’s coronation week as GOP standard-bearer begins

The first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was action-packed. What can we expect to see Monday night? Rachel Martin of NPR reports from the convention floor, while Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff talk with Kellyanne Conway, an advisor to Indiana Gov. MIke Pence, presumptive vice presidential nominee.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    It's been an action-packed day already here in Cleveland. We're excited about our first ever joint "PBS NewsHour"-NPR coverage of the 2016 conventions.

    "Weekend Edition Sunday" host Rachel Martin will be with us this week and next. She's at the podium here right now with a preview of what we expect to see tonight — Rachel.

  • RACHEL MARTIN, NPR Host:

    Hi, Judy.

    I'm actually down on the floor of the convention arena. This is where all the action is going to take place tonight. Delegates are on a break, but we can expect them to fill this hall in, in the next little while.

    As you know, the Trump campaign has set up a theme for every night, and tonight the theme is make America safe again, so you can be sure there is going to going to be a lot of conversation about national security issues. And a word you are going to hear a lot tonight, Benghazi.

    They are going to put out guests who are really going to try to target Hillary Clinton on the issue of Benghazi. We are going to hear from a mother of one of the four Americans who was killed there. We're also going to hear from some of his supporters in Congress.

    Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will speak. It will be up to him to try to bridge that divide between Donald Trump and some of the establishment that is still not yet on the board. And, of course, the marquee event, Melania Trump is going to be introducing her husband.

    She is going to try to give a more personal look at this candidate. She might get upstaged, though. The candidate himself is expected to introduce her — back to you, Gwen and Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And we will be watching and talking to you, Rachel.

    Right now, we get the perspective of the Trump campaign from one of the candidate's senior advisers. She is Kellyanne Conway.

    Thank you for joining us in our sky booth.

    KELLYANNE CONWAY, Advisor to Mike Pence: Thank you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Kellyanne Conway, how united are the Republicans tonight? We saw a little bit of chaos break out a couple of hours ago when the delegates were asked about nominating Donald Trump.

  • KELLYANNE CONWAY:

    Well, that was a couple of the never Trump delegates' last-ditch attempt.

    We thought the other day was a last-ditch attempt. There have been three or four of them to really either try to embarrass Mr. Trump or rob him of the nomination. They failed again and again.

    But, look, this is what conventions are for. This is direct democracy. I think, in terms of party unity, there is no Bernie Sanders equivalent in the Republican Party right now to Hillary Clinton, no one who won 22 or 23 states, millions of votes, and just last week decided to drop out and endorse.

    I think this is healthy for parties to have some growing pains, shed some skin, and have these debates, whether they're out in public or behind closed doors, as we are more accustomed to.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    I saw House Speaker Paul Ryan today.

    And he was talking about — everyone is talking about unity and how ones finds a way to make sure that party is on the same page. He talked about being a party of ideas. We hear less about ideas. But among the ideas are about building a wall or the ideas are about banning a religion from coming in the country, those kinds of ideas.

    And when we asked Paul Ryan about that, he kind of bit his tongue. Do you feel like the unity is where it needs to be in that front?

  • KELLYANNE CONWAY:

    Well, what I think is Donald Trump has many more ideas, like the 10-point VA reform plan he laid out in Virginia Beach just a week ago, Gwen, where he — it's 10 points.

    Anybody can read it. He basically said if we don't do what's right by our veterans, if we don't provide them basic care and health services and care about them who fought for all of our freedoms, the right to sit here and converse with each other, frankly, what are we doing as a nation?

    Then he went and gave a 10-point road map that anybody can examine. They can agree or disagree with it. But at least it's there. And you will hear more substance this week from Donald Trump. He's got a tax plan that's been out there for a while.

    He has a repeal-and-replace an Obamacare plan. Nobody seems to want to talk about it or cover. I am on TV every day. Nobody has yet asked me to compare the two health care plans or the two national security plans.

    So, I, for one, agree with…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Here's your chance. Here is your chance.

  • KELLYANNE CONWAY:

    And I'm happy to do that.

    I, for one, agree with Speaker Ryan in this regard. I would love for all of us to move from this cacophony of content-free campaigning into a more substantive debate. I think voters deserve that. And I know voters want that.

    I feel like a religious debate on the issues, then people will see they have a very stark choice in the future vision of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and that those who want a change election will go for the outsider, for Donald Trump, much the way they went for Barack Obama in '08 and Bill Clinton in '92, after two terms of the party in power.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    You used the term shedding skin.

    And I want to ask you about that, because today the campaign manager, Paul Manafort, told a group of reporters. He said, this is a convention about the future. It's a campaign about the future, not about the past, when he was asked about the fact that both former Presidents Bush are not here, as well as Mitt Romney and John McCain.

    You worked for President George H.W. Bush's vice president, Dan Quayle.

  • KELLYANNE CONWAY:

    Yes.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How do you feel about the Bushes and others not being here?

  • KELLYANNE CONWAY:

    Well, that is their right. We certainly welcome them. We're glad that they have devoted so much of their lives to public service.

    We understand that Jeb Bush wanted to be here this week accepting the nomination, and that there are some hard feelings there. But Dan Quayle himself, Judy, the former vice president, has endorsed Donald Trump.

    The other Bush — Vice President Dick Cheney has endorsed Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich. So there's a little bit of a split that way of those who have and those who haven't. But, again, I wouldn't want to belong to a party where everybody was meant to talk the same, either say the — agree on the same things.

    We hope that they're cheering for the party from afar. And, also, I also just want to say that this party is always looking for the next Ronald Reagan. Do you ever listen to the candidates? They channel Ronald Reagan. We're looking for the next Ronald Reagan. And they were picking Bushes for a while.

    So it is — I said on a different station last night, this campaign will be about the future, not the past. And I believe the selection of Mike Pence broadcast that loud and clear to voters also, because he's a fresh face to many Americans. They're unfamiliar with him.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • GWEN IFILL:

    I want to ask you about Mike Pence. What kind of reaction are you hearing now that the delegates are here in town? Is it a sigh of relief? Is it an embrace? Is it a who — isn't this guy a part of the establishment? What kind of reaction are you getting?

  • KELLYANNE CONWAY:

    He's pure excitement.

    Actually, Mike Pence, in his 12 years in Congress, Gwen and Judy, he voted against a lot of the Bush spending bills, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part B prescription drug, of course, TARP.

    And so he was able to — he was willing to stand up to leaders of both parties. It's very refreshing, frankly, to have someone in your own party say to a president of that party, I'm sorry, I just don't agree with you, something Bernie Sanders has done with President Obama again and again.

    And also I believe Mike Pence is somebody who was in Washington who never was of Washington, Rust Belt Midwestern governor, sitting on $2 billion surplus, gave tax cuts across the board to employers and individuals, spurring that kind of growth.

    When he got there after Mitch Daniels, 8.4 percent unemployment, now less than 5 percent. There's a great story to tell there.

    And I just wanted to note that John McCain and Mitt Romney could not win those Midwestern states. They lost them all twice to President Obama. Let's at least give Trump-Pence a try to state their case in those states and see how they fare.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to Donald J. Trump, who later this week will be the — no longer be likely — will be the Republican nominee.

    Thank you.

  • KELLYANNE CONWAY:

    Thank you for having me.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Thank you.

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