Quite a few logistical questions remain unanswered in the weeks ahead of the Republican National Convention. Among them: Who will attend, who will speak, and how will Donald Trump, the man of the hour, arrive?
According to a New York Times piece published Friday, the uncertainty is a dual result of Trump’s own unpredictability and top Republicans’ increasing desire to keep him at arm's length.
Though Trump has previously insisted his convention would represent a break from the "boring" political rites of conventions past, the reality of the situation appears to have softened his stance.
"There’s a lot of sameness in conventions," Trump said. "At the same, time you don’t necessarily want to reinvent the wheel. You don’t want to make it so different that it’s no longer a convention."
But that’s not to say he didn’t try. In the lead-up to the convention, the Times reports that the Trump team tossed around a bunch of ideas to make the convention more spectacular: Perhaps the candidate could arrive in Cleveland on a train. ("Been done.") Maybe he should deliver his final remarks in an open-air stadium and touch down on the stage in a helicopter. (Too expensive, but "pretty cool.") What about indoor fireworks? (Ultimately unworkable.)
This latest news of convention chaos follows weeks of reports of general disorder surrounding the event. Even before Trump clinched the party’s nomination in May, GOP leaders voiced their apprehension about appearing at the convention and potentially hemming too closely to such a mercurial and widely disliked candidate. These concerns were put on national display last week when Politico reported that many prominent Republicans — including all but one former Republican nominee — weren’t even planning to attend.
In the absence of political figures, the Trump campaign turned to sports stars, with limited success. Of the Rolodex of athletes and icons the campaign has thrown out — Mike Tyson, Serena Williams, and Mike Ditka, among others — few have indicated any interest in attending the convention in Cleveland, let alone speaking.
Through all of this, in addition to concerns recently raised about the security of the event, Trump appears largely undaunted, if maybe a little more subdued.
"I want it to be on message. I want it to be fun. And you have to put all of those things together," he told the Times. "But the on message is really the most important thing."