Viewers’ guide to 2016 Republican National Convention

Posted at 1:24 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-18 13:24:16-04

CLEVELAND (CNN) — Donald Trump is set to take over the Quicken Loans Arena.

For the next four days, Trump and his allies will bash Hillary Clinton, tout his plans to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall and beef up the U.S. military, and try to bring the country together.

He’ll be surrounded by the typical cadre of politicians — including several of his 2016 primary rivals. But he’s also invited several wealthy, business leader friends, and his four grown children will have prime slots.

Here’s what to expect over the next four days:


The convention will kick off at 1 p.m. ET with a day focused on two issues: Benghazi and illegal immigration.

The day’s headliner is Melania Trump — with her husband planning to make an appearance and might even introduce his wife.

Donald Trump teased the possibility of speaking Monday morning in an interview with Fox News.

“I’d love to be there when my wife speaks, so the answer is yes, I will be there,” he said, adding that he might speak as well.

But making the case for Trump on national security will be retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was under consideration for the vice presidential nomination, as well as several lawmakers with military backgrounds, including Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and a former Navy SEAL, Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana.

Other speakers include Jamiel Shaw, whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant, as well as Benghazi attack survivors Mark Geist and John Tiegen. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who has advised Trump on immigration and national security, will also speak.

Expect the day’s theme to be unloading on Clinton — who Republicans still view as to blame for the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya — and on Obama, who they blame for failing to crack down on undocumented immigrants.


There’s a major piece of business that Republicans will address Tuesday: Officially nominating Trump for president and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for vice president.

The nomination — after the day’s program kicks off at 5:30 p.m. ET — takes place on a day otherwise focused on the economy.

Perhaps capturing the most attention from political insiders will be House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Endangered Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, one of the few Republicans facing tough re-election match-ups to embrace Trump, will speak, as will New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who just lost out in the vice presidential sweepstakes.

Two of Trump’s children are also on the calendar to speak Tuesday night. Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are among the headliners.

Trump is also bringing his own employees onto the stage. Kerry Woolard, the general manager of Trump Winery, will discuss her work alongside the presumptive Republican nominee in a prime-time speaking slot.

The night will also feature a broad range of non-political speakers — including UFC president Dana White, golfer Natalie Gulbis and actress Kimberlin Brown.


Themed “Make America First Again,” the day’s speakers will make the case that United States’ leadership role in the world has slipped under Obama and could be restored by Trump. The night kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

The night’s most prominent speech will come from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — who, as the GOP vice presidential candidate, will be the prime-time headliner.

Another close Trump ally and vice presidential contender, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is up Wednesday evening, as is Eric Trump, another of Trump’s sons.

Many Republicans will be closely watching three relatively young contenders in the 2016 primary: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. All three would be possible candidates in 2020 if Trump loses this year. Rubio won’t be there in person but is submitting a video message.


The final night of the convention, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, is Trump’s night.

He’ll deliver a speech that’ll be closely watched both inside the arena and on television everywhere. The big question: Will he play to the enthusiastically partisan crowd in person, or will he stick to a script and try to expand his appeal to a broader audience?

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will appear at what could be the end of his six-year tenure as party chair.

Several Trump allies will speak, too. Tom Barrack, a long-time Trump friend, real estate investor and head of the investment firm Colony Capital, as well as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, are slated to appear.

Thiel is gay — a reality that makes for an awkward clash with a party that rejected efforts to moderate its platform’s approach to LGBT issues.

Leading into Trump will be perhaps his most effective surrogate: His daughter, Ivanka Trump.