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Trump’s Convention to Feature Less Glitz, More Family

By on July 18, 2016

Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort is surrounded by reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Sunday, July 17, 2016. Donald Trump's presidential campaign has hired new staffers to manage the efforts of newly named vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort is surrounded by reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Sunday, July 17, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

CLEVELAND – Donald Trump once promised a “showbiz” convention, packed with flash, celebrities and a “winner’s night” featuring sports stars and champion coaches.

Instead, the Republican National Convention kicking off Monday is shaping up to be a staid family-focused affair, with a lineup that features everyday Americans, successful business people and four of his five children.

“The plan for the Trump campaign for this convention is to help the American people understand more about Donald Trump the man, not just the candidate that they’ve seen on the campaign trail,” his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, told reporters gathered in Cleveland ahead of the convention’s kick-off.

Instead of featuring “a bunch of Washington politicians,” Manafort said the goal was to focus on ordinary people impacted by the current president’s policies, along with friends, employees and others who’ve worked with Trump over the years who can talk about his “business acumen and his personal life, his ability to solve problems. ”

“I think the historic nature of the convention will be the impact that family members have in talking about the candidate because we feel that the personal story of Donald Trump is something that needs to be told and it’ll be told from their eyes best,” he said.

The final speaking schedule, released Sunday evening by the Republican Party, does offer a heavy dose of Republican insiders. Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio (by video) are on the list, as are a handful of members of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan will also speak.

As for star power, the offerings are unexpectedly dim. There’s Willie Robertson from “Duck Dynasty,” along with actor Scott Baio, star of “Charles In Charge,” ”Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Happy Days.” Soap operas get their nods in the form of actor and former Calvin Klein underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr. and Kimberlin Brown, a California avocado farmer best known for her roles on “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “The Young and the Restless.”

Trump’s campaign has been notable for showcasing his business ventures, including hotels and golf clubs. That pattern will continue at the convention with the inclusion of speakers like Kerry Woolard, the general manager of Trump Winery in Virginia.

The program is designed to present Trump’s agenda, while contrasting it with the approaches of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Monday’s program, for instance, will focus on security and the risks posed by illegal immigration, with speeches from Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, who was killed in the attack in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Marine veterans Mark Geist and John Tiegen, who fought that night,, are scheduled, too. Jamiel Shaw, whose son was killed by a man living in the U.S. illegally, will also speak.

Speaking Monday as well will be Trump’s wife, Melania, a rare presence on the campaign trail, and his adult children, Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric and the lesser-known Tiffany. Trump’s vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will speak Wednesday. Trump will deliver his speech accepting the nomination on Thursday.

Last spring, Trump repeatedly blasted the 2012 GOP convention as “the single most boring” he’d ever seen.

“The concept of some entertainment from a great singer, a great group I think would be something maybe to break things up,” Trump told The Associated Press in May. “You’ll be hearing plenty of political speeches. And after a while, you’ll say, ‘Maybe I want to hear something else.'”

At his rallies, Trump often spoke of a “winners’ evening” featuring “some of the great sports people I know.” He even said he’d be open to a return performance by the actor Clint Eastwood, whose monologue standing next to an empty chair at the 2012 convention was widely panned.

Manafort insisted that the convention would be just as unconventional as the one Trump has long envisioned.

“He said it would be a different kind of convention and it will be a different kind of convention,” Manafort said.

Speaker highlights at the four-day convention:



Theme: Make America Safe Again

Headliners: Trump’s wife, Melania; Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, U.S. Army; Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.

Others: Willie Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty”; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Marcus Luttrell, retired U.S. Navy SEAL; Scott Baio, actor; Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, killed in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya; Mark “Oz” Geist, member of a security team that fought in Benghazi; John Tiegen, member of Benghazi security team and co-author of the book “13 Hours,” an account of the attacks; Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis, siblings of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent whose shooting death revealed the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling operation; Antonio Sabato Jr., actor; Mary Ann Mendoza, Sabine Durden and Jamiel Shaw, immigration reform advocates; Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis.; Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.; Rachel Campos Duffy, LIBRE Initiative for Hispanic economic empowerment; Darryl Glenn, Senate candidate in Colorado; Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Karen Vaughn, mother of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan; Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Jason Beardsley of Concerned Veterans for America.



Theme: Make America Work Again

Headliners: Tiffany Trump, candidate’s daughter; Kerry Woolard, general manager, Trump Winery in Virginia; Donald Trump Jr.; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson; and actress Kimberlin Brown.

Others: Sharon Day, co-chairwoman of Republican National Committee; Dana White, president, Ultimate Fighting Championship; Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge; former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Andy Wist, founder of Standard Waterproofing Co.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Chris Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action; golfer Natalie Gulbis; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.



Theme: Make America First Again

Headliners: Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; Eric Trump, son of the candidate; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s pick to be vice president.

Others: radio host Laura Ingraham; Phil Ruffin, businessman with interests in real estate, lodging, manufacturing and energy; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; retired astronaut Eileen Collins; Michelle Van Etten, small business owner; Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado Jr.; Darrell Scott, senior pastor and co-founder of New Spirit Revival Center Ministries, Cleveland; Harold Hamm, oil executive; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Lynne Patton, vice president, Eric Trump Foundation; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (by video); Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Callista Gingrich, wife of Newt Gingrich.



Theme: Make America One Again

Headliners: Peter Thiel, co-founder PayPal; Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital; Ivanka Trump, daughter of the candidate; and Donald Trump, GOP nominee for president.

Others: Brock Mealer, motivational speaker; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Dr. Lisa Shin, owner of Los Alamos Family Eyecare in New Mexico; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and evangelical leader.


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