scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Republican convention is all about Trump, from ‘visionary’ to ‘guardian of America’

WASHINGTON — A symphony of superlatives played loudly Monday on the opening night of the Republican National Convention, as speaker after speaker lavished praise on President Trump and spoke of him in messianic, almost otherworldly terms.

‘‘A builder.’’ ‘‘A visionary.’’ ‘‘The richest man in the world.’’ ‘‘The guardian of America.’’ ‘‘The bodyguard of Western civilization.’’

Political parties typically adopt platforms at their conventions every four years, articulating their policy priorities and core beliefs, but not the Republicans in 2020.

Instead, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution over the weekend stating simply that it ‘‘enthusiastically supports President Trump’’ and that the party ‘‘has and will continue to enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda.’’ In other words, the party’s platform is Donald Trump.


If there were still any doubt that Trump had thoroughly appropriated and consumed the Republican Party, it was erased Monday as Republicans kicked off their national convention. The quadrennial showcase of Republicanism began instead this week as a celebration of Trumpism — a nationally televised, high-definition paean to a president known for his outsize ego and taste for the grandiose.

‘‘I pray every night, ‘God, give him some more time. Give him four more years,’ ‘‘ said Herschel Walker, a former professional football player. ‘‘He has accomplished so much, almost all by himself and under constant attack.’’

Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., gave such a forceful endorsement of Trump that he concluded, ‘‘I truly believe the safety of your kids depends on whether this man is reelected.’’

Political conventions always spotlight a party’s presidential nominee, especially when the nominee is an incumbent. But this week’s Republican event is on the next level, with a program thoroughly awash in Trump’s image.

Tim Miller, a Republican operative who worked on Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign and now helps run the group Republican Voters Against Trump, wrote Monday in a commentary on The Bulwark: ‘‘The Republican Party is a cult in service of Donald Trump’s whims and its only stated principle is that the media is mean to them and whatever the Democrats are for is bad.’’


Underscoring Trump’s dominance of the Republican Party is the absence of any of the party’s previous presidential nominees. Mitt Romney (2012) is not participating; John McCain (2008) is no longer alive; George W. Bush (2000 and 2004) also is not participating; and although Bob Dole (1996) has expressed support at times for Trump, he has not been announced as part of the program.

Meanwhile, Miles Taylor, a former top official in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, launched a new group called Repair 45 through which current and former administration officials would work to defeat the president and publish commentaries about him.

The president is set to appear on each of four straight nights of prime-time programming, concluding with his formal acceptance speech Thursday evening from the South Lawn of the White House. Each night also will feature a keynote address by at least one member of the Trump family, starting with eldest son Donald Trump Jr., who spoke Monday night.

Meanwhile, one of the command centers where Republican officials worked to orchestrate the television production was set up at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

Trump, a former reality television producer, has taken a personal interest in convention programming. Two people familiar with the planning said Trump wanted a large crowd for his Thursday night address despite the raging coronavirus pandemic, so there probably will be 1,000 people or so on the South Lawn.


Republican operatives said there is a risk inherent in their party centering the convention so completely on Trump. Doing so invites voters to frame the election as a referendum on the president, whereas party officials believe Trump has a better chance of winning a second term if he can shift some attention to Biden and make the election a choice.

Some of the speakers — including Charlie Kirk, who opened the convention, and Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican — have become Republican celebrities of sorts in the Trump era for their vociferous defenses of the president.

‘‘We may not have realized it at the time, but this fact is now clear: Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization,’’ said Kirk, the head of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump student organization.