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What to expect from Trump and Republicans at the RNC

The Republican Party kicked off its convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Monday. The event is significantly reduced in size due to the pandemic, but 336 delegates attended Day 1 in person to renominate President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Trump also spoke for nearly an hour in an unscheduled appearance. Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the party's messaging strategy.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, was watching the convention's opening hours today. And she will be covering it all week.

    And Yamiche joins me now.

    So, Yamiche, you have been talking to people who have been organizing this. How do they want to distinguish what they are doing from what the Democrats did last week?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, Republicans say that they are eager to make the case that they are more optimistic, more positive than Democrats.

    They say that the theme of this entire convention is going to be honoring the great American story. Tonight's theme in particular is "Land of Promises."

    And what they say is that they really want to talk about all the greatness of America. They want to talk about the history of America as being one that is amazing, as one that is positive. They say that Democrats focused too much on the flaws of America.

    We are likely going to see President Trump, I'm told, every single day of the convention, though he might not speak every day. Another thing to note is, there are going to be a host of topics on this convention's agenda, including jobs, immigration. Of course, the coronavirus is going to be a huge talking point.

    The main message, though, is going to be that President Trump is the best person to lead the nation through the pandemic, and that, if he is reelected, the vaccine will be produced at the end of 2020, and that things will go back to normal by 2021.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Yamiche, as you're saying, today, the president spoke actually at length. He showed up at the convention in Charlotte, spoke, I think, for longer than people expected.

    He did bring up the coronavirus. What does that tell us? And what have you learned about what he may say at the end of the week when he makes his acceptance speech?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president's statements are — show the tension between what the campaign and officials say that they want to do, which is have this optimistic convention, as I said, and what the president often does, which is really talk about fear and talk about the dark parts of America and what could happen if Joe Biden is elected.

    So, today, he spoke for more than — or at least over an hour at the convention. And what he was talking about in particular, he said Democrats are trying to use COVID-19 to steal the election. That's a big, big thing for the president to say.

    And he said that he believes that, if he loses, the election was rigged. Now, there are election watchers who say that that's sort of dangerous language.

    But the president says that he's really doubling down on this idea that he is the person that can protect Americans, and that Joe Biden has really failed. And he also made the case today and has and will be making the case all week that, if Democrats are elected, that this will become a socialist country, and that it will still — be sort of Venezuela.

    Democrats, again, take real issue with that and say that that is a completely false thing to say. But the president is really looking at this and saying the Democrats who want — are pushing mail-in voting and pushing people going to the ballots, that they are people who don't really understand the democracy in America, and that they want to do nefarious things.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, finally, Yamiche, tonight, prime time, what are we looking for from the convention tonight?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, tonight, we're going to have a host of speakers.

    There's a lot of people whose last name is Trump, including Donald Trump Jr. We're also going to hear from Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate. We're going to hear from Nikki Haley, who at one point was actually talked about as possibly replacing Vice President Pence.

    And what we're going to hear is really a theme of people saying that President Trump took care of America, that he was someone who ushered in great economic change, and that he was someone who, again, can lead America through having more jobs, and really someone who will help America recover from the coronavirus.

    The other thing to note is, though, that as we hear some of the things that we're hearing, Republicans are really going to be pushing for an emotional feel, talking about everyday Americans who were involved in maybe gun shootings or involved in crimes that are committed by undocumented immigrants.

    The Democrats did that, making an emotional appeal. The Republicans are going to be trying to do that too. But they're going to be doing that by trying to attack the Democrats and really saying that they're wrong for the job.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor following it from the White House and following it for us all week long.

    Thank you, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks so much.

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