Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump once promised the 2016 Republican National Convention, which starts Monday, would be so exciting that it would be must-see television. But with so many details unfinished, Trump runs the risk that the convention might be more like last season’s reruns.
All those ideas to spice up the week in Cleveland? They don’t appear to be happening.
How about when he said he would announce his vice presidential pick during the convention? Nope, he is doing that a few days beforehand. What about his vow to load the stage with celebrities? Not even Clint Eastwood wants a chair. A plan to have Trump speak every night of the confab? Trump declined, although he boasted he would have received “high ratings.”
So what just can we expect in Cleveland? Here are three scenarios for how next week could unfold:
Scenario 1: It could be boring.
Trump allies once suggested they would have convention speeches from retired college basketball coach Bobby Knight and former professional boxer Mike Tyson. But neither were on the partial list of speakers released this week. Instead those on the list included Trump’s family members, Oklahoma’s governor, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Compare this to the Democratic National Convention the following week: Not only are there expected to be high-profile speeches from both Hillary and Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, and US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, but celebrities like singer-songwriter Lady Gaga and actor Bryan Cranston will be appearing at various events.
To be sure, Trump still has time to deliver on his promise for a “showbiz” convention. The full list of speakers hasn’t been announced — and neither has a daily schedule. Trump friend and New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady could still show up, but at the moment the only football player reportedly scheduled to attend is Tim Tebow.
Scenario 2: An off-the-cuff convention.
Republicans initially said they would release the speakers’ list last week. But like many things about the 2016 presidential race, that did not go as planned for the party. This instance could be chalked up to last-minute scheduling — except Trump has proven to be a spontaneous candidate. He has delivered nearly every one of his campaign speeches without notes and off the cuff.
As a result, this could be the kind of convention where anything could happen. There could be musical acts. Speakers who diverge from the script. Trump could make an unexpected entrance. (He’s suggested it might be “pretty cool” to arrive by helicopter.)
Conventions are typically scripted events, but a lack of planning means the program could go awry — and it will be easy for viewers to notice.
The plus side? The ratings would be, as Trump might say, huge.
3. Fireworks inside and outside (but mostly inside).
The real fireworks could be aimed at Trump — instead of shooting into the sky outside the Quicken Loans Arena. Efforts by anti-Trump delegates did not gain much traction in the lead-up to the convention, but those same voices will still be there on the floor next week. What is typically mundane procedure for delegates at most conventions could provide some real drama in Cleveland.
And that’s just inside the hall. Outside the arena, anti-Trump activists have planned protests around the convention and the lakeside city.
But some initial estimates — including one as high as 500,000 people for a demonstration — have been scaled back. They’re currently expecting fewer people to demonstrate. In a summer that has been partly defined by racial tensions, organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement told The Washington Post they aren’t even going to bother with Cleveland.