Republicans are gearing up to formally nominate President Donald Trump as the party’s choice to run for the White House at this week’s Republican National Convention (RNC) from today to Thursday.
Much like the Democratic National Convention last week, the RNC will be a departure from the big arena-based conventions of the past, with fewer in-person events taking place due to the pandemic.
But a smaller number of delegates will still gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the party’s business meetings.
Attendees will have to undergo Covid-19 tests before they arrive.
They will also have to wear masks, be subject to daily temperature checks and put on badges equipped with Bluetooth technology to enable easier contact tracing in case someone later tests positive for Covid-19.
The overarching theme of the convention will be “Honouring the Great American Story”, and the official nomination of Mr Trump is set to happen today.
Mr Trump will accept the nomination in a live speech delivered from the White House on Thursday, in a controversial departure from tradition amid criticisms that the federal property should not be used for overtly partisan purposes.
This year’s RNC was to have taken place entirely in Charlotte.
But Mr Trump moved the headline events to Jacksonville, Florida, after North Carolina’s Democratic governor declined the Trump campaign’s request to relax the state’s social distancing rules and allow full convention halls and no masks.
Mr Trump later axed the Jacksonville portion of the programme as the number of Covid-19 cases in Florida spiked.
According to media reports in the United States, there will be four themes, one for each day of the convention: Land of Promise, Land of Opportunity, Land of Heroes and Land of Greatness.
First Lady Melania Trump will speak tomorrow from the White House Rose Garden.
Vice-President Mike Pence will speak on Wednesday from Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, the site where American troops successfully defended a British attack in 1812, a battle which inspired the country’s national anthem The Star-Spangled Banner.
The reports also said other speakers, who will deliver addresses from various locations, include former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who is the only African-American Republican senator.
Activists and ordinary Americans will also be featured at the RNC and, from early indications, they are likely to lean heavily into the culture wars and stress pro-life, pro-gun values.
They include St Louis couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who made national headlines when photos of them waving a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol at Black Lives Matter protesters went viral in June. Both have been charged with waving weapons “in a threatening manner” at the non-violent protesters.
Also speaking is Kentucky high school student Nick Sandmann, who was vilified on social media last year after being photographed wearing the Trump campaign’s Make America Great Again cap while seemingly harassing a Native American activist. Nick, who was then at an anti-abortion rally with his classmates, has since settled lawsuits against media organisations for defamation.
Mr Trump is facing an uphill battle for his re-election, with his Democratic opponent Joe Biden in the lead in opinion polls as voters’ views soured on the President’s handling of the pandemic and nationwide protests this summer against racial injustice.
The RNC will be a chance for Mr Trump and his allies to rally his base.
Mr Trump is likely to seek to cast doubt on Mr Biden’s ability to govern and characterise a Biden presidency as a liberal takeover of America while casting himself as a defender of conservative values.
Mr Trump has spoken of a Biden presidency in increasingly dark tones, calling it a nightmare, disaster and catastrophe in campaign events over the past few days.
“We’re the wall between the American Dream and total insanity and destruction of the greatest country in the history of the world. We’re all that stands,” said Mr Trump at a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, last Thursday.