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Republican Convention 2016: RNC speakers, schedule, platform, and what to expect

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

After four months of primary voting, and one year after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States, the Republican National Committee’s convention is underway. Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence have been declared the official Republican presidential and vice presidential nominees. The theme: Make America Great Again.

For four days, from July 18 to 21, Republican politicians, journalists, protesters, and the like will descend on Cleveland to ring in the Trump-Pence nomination. Trump's children Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, as well as Republican officials like House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Sen. Ted Cruz are slated to speak.

The schedule:

Where: Quicken Loans Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Monday's theme: Make America Safe Again

Proceedings will begin at 12:50 pm Eastern time.

Headlining speakers: Melania Trump; Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; US Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA); Jason Beardsley, adviser for Concerned Veterans of America; US Rep. Ryan Zinke, Montana

Tuesday's theme: Make America Work Again

The convention will be called to order at 5:30 pm Eastern time. The nomination process will begin on Tuesday.

Headlining speakers: Tiffany Trump; Kerry Woolard, general manager of Trump Winery; Donald Trump Jr.; Dr. Ben Carson; US Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); Kimberlin Brown, soap opera actress

Wednesday's theme: Make America First Again

Speakers will begin at 7 pm Eastern time.

Headlining speakers: Lynne Patton, vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's vice presidential pick

Thursday's theme: Make America One Again

Speakers will begin at 7:30 pm Eastern time

Headlining speakers: Peter Thiel, Paypal founder; Tom Barrack, founder and executive chair of Colony Capital; Ivanka Trump; Donald Trump

Here is the full schedule:

The platform:

Going into the convention, the Republican Party’s platform — while not final or binding — provides good insight into the direction the GOP is looking to take. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias notes, this is particularly illuminating since Trump has been rather mum on policy issues on the campaign trail.

It follows Trump on trade:

The Republican Party seems to have taken a few lines from Trump’s campaign speeches on trade, calling for "better negotiated trade agreements that put America first" in the party’s draft platform.

While the GOP has previously been a vigorous supporter of free trade, the drafted platform says, "Republican president will insist on parity in trade and will stand willing to implement countervailing duties if other countries don't cooperate."

The draft does not follow Trump in calling for an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement or in specifically upholding increased tariffs on Chinese imports, two policy points Trump has actively appealed for on the stump.

It isn’t really that Trump-y on a lot of other things:

On social issues like same-sex marriage and women’s issues, the party’s platform seems to stick to its long-established language: It opposes the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage and states that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman but does not call for a constitutional amendment to that end and advocates for limiting bathroom usage by biological sex.

On education, the platform — in line with Trump — "congratulates" states that have opted out of Common Core curriculum standards and also says the Bible should be taught as part of "American history." The platform also opposes the current administration’s alleged "distortion of Title IX to micromanage" how higher education institutions handle sexual assault investigations.

On foreign policy, the platform sees the Iran nuclear deal as a "non-binding" agreement for the next president. The draft calls for legislation to "protect the national grid," pushing states to take action against the Chinese and Russian threat of electromagnetic pulse weapons, seeing an electromagnetic pulse as "no longer a theoretical concern." (As Yglesias notes, scientists don’t think this threat is real.)

On domestic political institutions, the platform calls for an "audit" of the Federal Reserve. It also maintains support for the Electoral College system and rebuffs a move to assign a president based on the popular vote.

The speakers:

The first released list of RNC convention speakers, as Vox’s Libby Nelson pointed out, looked more like a season of Celebrity Apprentice than a political event. But alas, despite speculation, quarterback Tim Tebow will not be in attendance, nor will a lot of other prominent governors, members of Congress, and prominent Republicans.

Here’s who’s slated to speak (this list is tentative):

Congressional leaders:

  • Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan
  • Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell
  • House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Members of Congress:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas
  • Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama
  • Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa
  • Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia
  • Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin
  • Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida
  • Rep. Ryan Zinke, Montana
  • Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas
  • Rep. Sean Duffy, Wisconsin
  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee

Republican Party members and former officials

  • Reince Priebus, RNC chair
  • Sharon Day, RNC co-chair
  • Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House
  • Dr. Ben Carson, former presidential candidate
  • Chris Cox, NRA Victory Fund
  • Michael Mukasey, former US attorney general
  • Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor
  • Darryl Glenn, US Senate candidate in Colorado and the GOP’s only African-American Senate candidate this year
  • Lisa Shin, a Republican delegate from New Mexico
  • Kentucky State Sen. Ralph Alvarado Jr.
  • Laura Ingraham, conservative talk radio host


  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott
  • Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Trump’s family and business associates:

  • Melania Trump, wife
  • Eric Trump, son
  • Ivanka Trump, daughter
  • Donald J. Trump Jr., son
  • Tiffany Trump, daughter
  • Lynne Patton, vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation
  • Kerry Woolard, general manager of Trump Winery

Watch: Did Melania Trump plagiarize Michelle Obama?

State attorneys general:

  • Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas
  • Pam Bondi, Florida

Members of the military and political activists

  • Mark Geist and John Tiegen, two members of the Benghazi security team
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a critic of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Karen Vaughn, anti-Obama activist whose son, a Navy SEAL, was killed in action
  • Marc Luttrell, a retired US Navy SEAL and the subject of the movie Lone Survivor
  • Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, rumored to be among Trump’s possible vice presidential picks
  • Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, who was killed in the Benghazi attacks
  • Jason Beardsley, advisor for Concerned Veterans of America
  • Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis, from The Brian Terry Foundation in honor of their brother Brian Terry, a border patrol agent who died on duty
  • Mary Ann Mendoza, immigration reform advocate whose son died in a car accident involving an undocumented immigrant
  • Sabine Durden, immigration reform advocate whose son died in a car accident involving an undocumented immigrant
  • Jamiel Shaw, immigration reform advocate whose son was killed in a gang shooting involving an undocumented immigrant

Business leaders

  • Peter Thiel, PayPal founder
  • Phil Ruffin, Las Vegas casino owner
  • Harold Hamm, oil and gas executive developing the Bakken shale in North Dakota
  • Tom Barrack, founder and executive chair of Colony Capital
  • Michelle Van Etten, marketing vice president at Florida startup Youngevity
  • Andy Wist, founder of Standard Waterproofing, a company in the Bronx

Athletes, religious leaders, and celebrities

  • Darrell Scott, a Cleveland pastor and prominent African-American Trump supporter
  • Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the evangelical Liberty University
  • Willie Robertson, star of A&E show Duck Dynasty
  • Kimberlin Brown, soap opera actress
  • Dana White, president of UFC
  • Natalie Gulbis, professional golfer
  • Antonio Sabato Jr., former General Hospital actor
  • Eileen Collins, astronaut
  • Brock Mealer, a man paralyzed in a car accident who learned to walk again with the University of Michigan football team
  • Scott Baio, actor and TV producer, most prominently known for playing in the sitcom Happy Days

What to expect

There is no question that Trump remains a contentious figure in the Republican Party. The speaker list is notably thin for a presidential convention: Big names in the Republic Party like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who delivered the State of the Union response this year, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and governors who won in blue states are not on the roster. Former candidates for the Republican nomination Sens. John McCain, Rand Paul, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are also absent.

Throughout the primaries, Trump’s biggest Republican critics floated the convention as a possible platform to oust Trump as the leader of the party — a process that would have required a fundamental change to convention rules and resulted in the ultimate breakdown of democracy. But the rules committee shot down all hopes of a NeverTrump coup in Cleveland, voting down proposals that would have allowed convention delegates to vote for whomever they wanted.

While there won’t be a fight on the convention floor, multiple activist groups are looking to protest the event, keeping Cleveland police on their toes. According to the New York Times, "Cleveland is bringing in roughly 2,500 law enforcement officers from as far away as California, Florida and Texas to bolster its convention-dedicated force of about 500."

Political conventions are often the time for the next generation of party leaders to make a name for themselves, but it’s hard to imagine the 2016 convention being anything other than four days of Donald Trump.

Watch: The bad map we see every presidential election