The Slatest

It’s Only Monday, and Donald Trump Has Already Given a Rambling Speech at the GOP Convention

A woman wearing a U.S. flag–branded mask and a cowboy hat
A delegate listens as President Donald Trump speaks on the first day of the Republican National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pool/Getty Images

Our current president of the United States is not a big “delayed gratification” guy. So the Republican National Convention did not wait until the middle of the week, or even until prime time, to officially renominate Donald Trump and Mike Pence as their candidates for the presidency and vice presidency. The GOP’s roll call of the states, in which state delegations award their bound delegates alphabetically, was one of the very first orders of business on the opening day of the streamlined convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday, offering an immediate lightning round of hyperbolic compliments for the president.

Trump was mad that the full cable news universe wasn’t capturing the scene of people from all 50 states, plus territories, speaking to his greatness. It’s a risk you run when you try to counterprogram a House committee’s grilling of the postmaster general. Fox News was showing it, but the commentators kept babbling over the good stuff.

Trump and Republicans believed that having some in-person element of the convention—about 360 delegates would attend Charlotte, plus RNC staff—would make for a more vibrant feel than the Democrats’ all-virtual convention. But Republicans’ roll call featured leaders of state delegations against the same bland convention-center backdrop, missing the pastoral, coastal, or calamari-infused settings of the DNC’s virtual roll call. The state delegation leaders tried their best to make up for the weak visuals with thrilling rhetoric. Connecticut, the Nutmeg State, cast all of its “spicy votes” for the president. Louisiana accused Joe Biden of “hiding in the dark, waiting to take the lives of unborn babies.” David Bossie, a Trump campaign aide, described Maryland as “home to two of our greatest segrega—abolitionists.” Corey Lewandowski, another Trump campaign hand, said in presenting New Hampshire that it was “known for our maple syrup, comedian Adam Sandler, poet Robert Frost, and New York Times bestselling author Corey Lewandowski.”

That Trump tweet complaining about coverage had been sent from aboard Air Force One en route to Charlotte. Though Pence and Trump are scheduled to speak Wednesday night and Thursday night, respectively, to accept their party’s nominations, they both showed up Monday in the middle of the roll call, delaying its conclusion twice.

Pence adequately delivered the speech looking back at past accomplishments (judges, boosting the defense budget, building the roaring economy of February) and ahead to new ideas (whatever they jotted down on scrap paper last night) that staff uploaded into his data stream this morning.

Trump offered a pre-address address clocking in at 50 minutes, twice as long as Joe Biden’s address accepting the Democratic nomination. A breezy 50 minutes, really, with more talking about how Democrats were trying to steal the election through mail voting, and a reiteration of his firm belief that Fox News was doing too much talking over the roll call of states. Once he was done talking, he exited to the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.,” and the roll call of states resumed with Tennessee.

The prime-time segment of Monday’s opening day will begin around 8:30 with speeches from, among others, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Reps. Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan, and gun-pointing barefoot lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey.

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