CLEVELAND — As the gavel drops to begin the Republican National Convention here on Monday, the party will be focused on two goals: reintroducing Donald Trump as someone the country could imagine in the Oval Office during dangerous times, and healing the leftover wounds of a brutal primary season.

“The convention’s coming at a good time for us to turn the page,” a hopeful Reince Priebus, the party’s chairman, said after spending the pre-convention week snuffing out a “Never Trump” revolt among a rebellious group of party rulemakers.

Modern conventions are political infomercials, and the four-day gathering here will aim to present Trump as a more substantive and compassionate figure than the bombastic, impulsive showman who vanquished 16 rivals to claim the nomination.

“He is a likable person,” Priebus said of a candidate to whom he now speaks at least twice a day. “I think as people get to see the person that some of us have gotten to know, that’s going to help him in the general election, because I think people actually want to like him.”

To that end, the convention producers plan to showcase the celebrity billionaire’s family. His wife, Melania, a Slovenia-born former model who rarely speaks publicly on her husband’s behalf, will deliver prime-time remarks, as will Trump’s four oldest children from his first two marriages, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany.

Beyond his personal side, Trump hopes the convention projects an image of toughness and resolve to a nation on edge from a harrowing few months that have included terrorist attacks on the homeland and abroad, as well as the gunning down of five police officers in Dallas.


Several speakers could help reinforce Trump’s claim to be the law-and-order candidate. Among them are former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, two women state attorneys general and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an African-American Democrat who is an outspoken critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

There also will be plenty of Clinton bashing. One evening will be dedicated in part to replaying the former secretary of state’s handling of the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Two survivors, Mark Geist and John Tiegen, will speak.

“We’re going to continue to pound away and make sure people know what kind of a dishonest, untrustworthy person she is,” Priebus said.

The lineup of Republican speakers is eclectic and intended to root Trump’s candidacy in a culture beyond the political establishment. They include Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space shuttle mission; Antonio Sabato Jr., a soap-opera actor; pro golfer Natalie Gulbis; and Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Reaching beyond the usual roster of speakers is partly a necessity, given how many party elders and rising stars d eclared themselves no-shows in Cleveland – including the past two nominees, Mitt Romney and John McCain; George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush; and some senators who fear for their reelection prospects.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.