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The Republican National Convention Kicks Off In North Carolina


What would President Trump do with four more years in office? We hear what Republicans say about that, as their convention starts today. Like last week's Democratic convention, this will be a pandemic-altered event. The president will deliver his main speech from the White House instead of a convention hall. His party will back a platform that consists largely of the president himself. Republicans have said that with limited face-to-face meetings at this convention, they could not draft a new platform. So, instead, they re-endorsed the 2016 version, saying they, quote, "enthusiastically support the president's agenda."

NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith is covering the convention. Hey there, Tam.


INSKEEP: What's this going to look like?

KEITH: Well, it has changed a few times because of the pandemic and the president wanting to have a big traditional convention. But what we know is that a few hundred delegates will gather today in Charlotte in person for some very scaled-back convention business. But it's really all about prime time. In a series of speeches and appearances - many of them from an auditorium in Washington, D.C. - President Trump and his campaign are trying to create the appearance of a live event, an in-person event, in a way that Democrats were really focused on making it truly virtual. He wants to try to make it somehow less virtual. The campaign also says that he's going to highlight the stories of everyday Americans and that it will be a convention filled with hope and patriotism.

INSKEEP: Here's how the president described what to expect on Fox News.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think we're going to see something that is going to be very uplifting and positive. That's what I'd like to - like it to be. I think you have to defend yourself by talking about some of the lies.

INSKEEP: A quick turn from positive to negative in that very clip of tape.

KEITH: And President Trump has often focused on darkness, saying things like, if our opponents prevail, no one will be safe in our country, and no one will be spared. Of course, the Democratic convention also had a fair bit of darkness, talking about what would happen if President Trump was reelected. But, you know, the thing is, President Trump is the person in power, and he is not the challenger this time, and he needs to convince voters that he should get four more years. And and so, you know, as you say, there isn't a formal platform, but the president's campaign put out an agenda that includes things like "return to normal in 2021" - that is a quote from his agenda - or as President Trump said on Fox last night, he would strengthen what we've done and do new things.

INSKEEP: OK. So we'll hear four nights from the president, it seems. Also, other people like Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell - who are leaders in Congress for the Republican Party - Ben Carson and Mike Pompeo. Cabinet secretary is expected to - expected to speak. But I want to ask about one more convention speaker - Kellyanne Conway, presidential adviser, is making some news as the convention begins. What is it?

KEITH: That she is leaving the White House - she is one of the last survivors of this administration who started on the first day. But she is leaving to spend more time with her family. And although that's a typical Washington excuse, this seems to be real. Her husband is a vocal critic of the president, and she has a teenage daughter who had brought the family's discord out onto social media. So Conway says that she will announce future plans eventually. But for now, she said in a statement that, for her children, this means less drama and more mama.

INSKEEP: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

Thanks for the update.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. In that time, she has chronicled the final years of the Obama administration, covered Hillary Clinton's failed bid for president from start to finish and thrown herself into documenting the Trump administration, from policy made by tweet to the president's COVID diagnosis and the insurrection. In the final year of the Trump administration and the first year of the Biden administration, she focused her reporting on the White House response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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