Last week, Democrats made history by hosting the country's first virtual national convention. This week the Republicans will try to improve it. As the last few weeks have shown, the GOP has taken a completely different approach to planning its event.

More live events and delegates will meet in person at the Republican National Convention. And GOP officials argue that the democratic event was bleak – with speakers lambasting Trump's leadership as the country is facing a pandemic, economic collapse and racial injustices – and that theirs will be positive.

"The RNC Convention will take four days to tell the stories of everyday Americans who have been empowered thanks to President Trump's policies and the records of their struggles," Republican National Committee press secretary Mandi Merritt said in a statement. "While the DNC has focused on division and negativity, the RNC will honor what makes our country great and celebrate four more years of historic progress under President Trump."

But it is likely that Trump's own portrayal of the country he leads will continue to be extremely obscure. It has recently focused on protests and violence in American cities, presenting itself as the last line of defense against an aggressive China and a lonely law enforcement ally, while offering a foreboding caricature of an America that is sure to descend into "total anarchy" if Joe Biden it's chosen.

And unlike last week's Democratic Convention, Republicans will be competing for the nation's attention as two hurricanes are expected to land on the Gulf Coast just days later, one Monday and another.

The overall theme of the Congress is “Honoring the Great American Story”. First Lady Melania Trump will speak on Tuesday from the Rose Garden of the White House, the redesign of which she recently oversaw. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday from Ft. McHenry in Baltimore and President Trump from the White House on Thursday. The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington will also serve as a speech hub.

The main event of the Republican Convention begins each evening around 5:30 p.m. in the Pacific and lasts until 8:00 p.m., said GOP chairman Ronna McDaniels. Viewers can stream the convention on Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Twitch, or watch it on TV on AT&T U-Verse or DirecTV.

Here are some things to keep in mind for this week:

An "aspirational" tone?

On the last night of the Democratic Convention, Biden said Trump "shrouded America in darkness". The former vice president promised: “If you entrust me with the presidency, I will use the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of light, not darkness. "

Republican officials criticized the Democratic Convention as too negative. "Last week the Democrats held the darkest, angry and gritty gathering in American history," Trump said Friday in a speech to the Conservative Council on National Policy in Arlington, Virginia. "They spent four days in a row attacking America as a racist." a terrible land to be redeemed. "

The GOP event will be "more ambitious, less grim, less offensive," McDaniel told Fox News last week.

The question is whether Trump can sell himself as a hopeful, positive figure when much of his campaign has been based on negative attacks against his political opponents, the media, racial justice protesters and his critics.

The president plans to break from the convention tradition and speak on all four evenings – at 10 p.m. Hour, the only hour broadcast by all broadcast networks. After four nights of nationwide televised attacks on his presidency last week, Trump has "a lot to say," according to a person familiar with the congressional program.

Can Republicans Outperform Democrats?

Trump's campaign and the RNC have two advantages: finishing second and being able to learn from the programming of the DNC and use the traps of the presidency. Rather than speaking in a cavernous, empty room, Trump will take the nomination on the south lawn of the White House, with the pillars and Truman's balcony bathed in light, a live audience of some size fanned out in front of him, and dramatic fireworks show the National Mall at the end.

However, there are some concerns about the president's recent instruction to deliver the speeches live, which makes production more technically complex. Trump had taken up the fact that Michelle Obama's remarks were taped before Congress and intended to protect his own congressional spokesperson from any criticism that might arise from it.

The last minute nature of the planning also resulted in the slow release of details about the event. By the Friday before their congress, the Democrats had announced a two-hour program every evening and published a lecture schedule. The Republicans didn't announce their speech schedule until Sunday. (Large networks have announced plans to give the Convention an hour of prime time, just like the Democratic Convention.)

Trump's acceptance speech, like the rest of the convention, was originally scheduled for Charlotte, NC, but moved to Jacksonville, Florida shortly when officials in the Sunshine State tended to welcome a large face-to-face event. That plan was thrown out when coronavirus cases surfaced in Florida. The Convention's official business area, now limited in volume, will remain in Charlotte.

Who should (and should) not speak?

Trump's congressional lineup destroys several political norms. He and the First Lady are supposed to speak not only from the White House, which is not to be used for overtly political events, but also from several administrative officials – Advisor Kellyanne Conway, Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump, Social Media Director Dan Scavino, and Domestic Policy Advisor Ja & # 39; Ron Smith will speak to everyone – destroys any pretext to separate business from politics.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo plans to address an RNC audience during an official mission to Israel, disregarding the longstanding tradition of serving as the nation's chief diplomat to avoid partisan politics.

The convention will also feature a mix of emerging Republican stars and individuals who have either benefited from the president's policies or may heighten conservative criticism. As he was four years ago as an outsider, Trump plans to exploit grievances against his opponents.

Nick Sandmann, the ex-Covington Catholic student who won settlements from two news outlets for reporting on his 2019 encounter with a Native American protester, will speak about what he sees as anti-conservative media bias.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, standing outside their St. Louis home, point their guns at protesters who are marching to the Mayor's home in June.

(Laurie Skrivan / Associated Press)

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who brandished their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their mansion this summer, become what they believe is a Democratic attack on the 2nd Amendment and law enforcement Give voice.

Republicans also plan to showcase others to highlight the benefits of Trump's key achievements, including tax reform, criminal justice reform, regulatory setbacks, PPP loans, and tougher measures to curb illegal immigration and limit asylum seekers.

The speakers include:

Monday: Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina; Representatives Steve Scalise from Louisiana, Matt Gaetz from Florida, and Jim Jordan from Ohio; former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley; Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend and fundraiser for the Trump campaign, Kimberly Guilfoyle; Turning point for US President Charlie Kirk; Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow died in a school shooting in Florida in 2018; Montana business owner Tanya Weinreis; and the McCloskeys.

Tuesday: First Lady Melania Trump; President Trump's adult children Eric and Tiffany; Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky; Kim Reynolds, governor of Iowa; former Florida Atty. Gene. Pam Bondi; Anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson; Pompeo; and Sandman.

Wednesday: Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence; Sens. Marsha Blackburn from Texas and Joni Ernst from Iowa; Kristi Noem, Governor of South Dakota; Representatives Dan Crenshaw from Texas, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin from New York; former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell; Trump campaign advisor and daughter-in-law Lara Trump; Michael McHale, President of the National Assn. from police organizations; former NFL players Burgess Owens and Jack Brewer; and Conway.

Thursday: President Trump; Housing Secretary Ben Carson; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas; House Minority Chairman Kevin McCarthy of California; Ivanka Trump; former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani; evangelical leader Franklin Graham; Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship; Alice Johnson, a nonviolent drug offender whose verdict was overturned by Trump; and Carl and Marsha Mueller, whose helper daughter Kayla was killed by the Islamic State.

Trump's acceptance speech

Before and during the Democratic Covenant, Trump and his election officials tried to convince voters that Biden is dodging and losing weight. However, they only managed to lower expectations, which Biden slightly exceeded with his speech.

Biden's team attacked Trump's record, not his litany of gaffes in the past few weeks, as he struggled to read prepared remarks from the teleprompter (specifically, his pronunciation of Yosemite as "Yo-Semites" and Thailand as "Thigh Land"), but there is no guarantee that Trump, who plans to perform live on several evenings, will speak as clearly as Biden during his address.

There is also the question of how the president will adapt his external message to the complaint and to ending the "American slaughter" once he is the incumbent. One element that can help give credence to his claims that, despite being president, he remains an anti-establishment figure is the relative scarcity of prominent Republicans supposed to share the congressional stage. Unlike Biden, who was represented by three former presidents, Trump is not going to introduce the only living former Republican president, George W. Bush, who has been shy about whether he will support the president or his Democratic challenger.

Will democratic counter-programming play a role?

The Democratic National Committee and von Biden's campaign on Friday announced plans to counter-program the GOP convention aimed at portraying Trump's term as a "chaos presidency."

Each day of the convention, Democrats will broadcast radio and digital advertisements and host video news briefings to highlight health, economic and other crises they believe Trump has caused or exacerbated. Speakers include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and Pete Buttigieg, former Mayor of South Bend, Ind.

The intent is to draw a contrast between Trump and Biden that will be "a preview of the next 75 days," said Biden campaign advisor Symone Sanders.

However, the Biden campaign has not announced any post-convention events to put their ticket in the spotlight – a departure from the traditional pre-COVID strategy of following a congress with a barnstorming tour of the campaign trail. Biden and his runmate, Senator Kamala Harris, granted ABC their first joint television interview, which aired on Sunday.

John reported from Los Angeles and Stokols from Washington. Times staffer Janet Hook contributed from Washington.

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