Politics

Wednesday’s Republican National Convention speakers, explained

The third night of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday will feature a speech by Vice President Mike Pence alongside former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and a number of Republican House and Senate members.

The Republican National Committee abandoned its plans to hold a large-scale, in-person convention in Charlotte, North Carolina — as well as its subsequent plans to relocate the convention to Jacksonville, Florida — on account of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The convention has consequently gone almost entirely virtual and will largely take place in Washington, DC, including speeches delivered from the White House lawn and the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, over the course of just a few hours of condensed programming that will be broadcast nightly through Thursday, August 27.

The theme of Wednesday night is “Land of Heroes.” The official proceedings go from 8:30 pm to 11 pm ET. All major television networks will broadcast the final hour; the full program will be available on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch, as well as streaming services including Amazon Prime Video. Trump will be featured in the night’s programming more than once but will not give live remarks, according to his campaign.

The first two days of the convention have featured remarks from both President Trump and Vice President Pence, followed by others from the president’s family and allies, including Donald Trump Jr. and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. The second night of the convention featured more remarks from Trump family members, including a speech by first lady Melania Trump, and while the theme of night one hearkened back to the “American Carnage” speech given by Trump in 2016, night two celebrated a sanitized version of Donald Trump aimed at swing-state voters.

The appearances are leading up to Trump accepting the nomination on Thursday night from the White House — a break from tradition that some legal and ethics experts argue is a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of government property for political activities.

Here’s the lineup of speakers for Wednesday night (which is subject to change and may include surprise guests, according to the Trump campaign) in the order they are scheduled to appear:

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

Gov. Noem was elected in 2018, becoming the first woman governor in South Dakota history. She campaigned on keeping taxes low (South Dakota is one of a few states with no income tax) and her opposition to abortion.

Scott Dane

Dane serves as the executive director of Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota. He staunchly supported Trump’s tariffs on imported Canadian lumber.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

Sen. Blackburn is Tennessee’s first woman senator, beating former Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2018. Her campaign centered on her opposition to abortion and gun control, prominently featuring her role as chair of a 2016 House panel on fetal tissue research that she characterized as “stop(ping) the sale of baby body parts.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02)

Rep. Crenshaw is a first-term member of Congress who served in Iraq as a Navy Seal. Elected in 2016, Crenshaw has become extremely popular among conservatives (and very active on Twitter) but was targeted by an alt-right trolling group with ties to white nationalists in 2019.

Keith Kellogg

Kellogg serves as national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence and served as acting national security adviser following Michael Flynn’s resignation in 2017.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (NY-01)

Rep. Zeldin was born and raised on Long Island and became New York’s youngest attorney at the time at age 23. Rep. Zeldin is an Iraq War veteran who currently serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves. He is currently serving his third term in Congress and is on the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Tera Myers

Myers is a school choice advocate whose son, Sam, lives with Down syndrome. She has frequently worked with Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Kayleigh McEnany

McEnany is the current White House press secretary.

Kellyanne Conway

Before leaving earlier this week, Conway served as White House counselor to the president after managing Trump’s 2016 campaign following the exit of Paul Manafort. She coined the term “alternative facts” during her highly eventful tenure.

Sister Deirdre Byrne

Sister Byrne is an active missionary sister and superior of the Washington, DC, Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts. She is also double board-certified in family medicine and general surgery and a retired colonel in the US Army.

Lou Holtz

Holtz is a retired college and NFL football coach, most notedly at the University of Notre Dame where he won a national title in 1988. He also coached at the University of South Carolina and the University of Arkansas, and had a brief tenure in the NFL with the New York Jets (where he resigned with one game remaining on the schedule).

Michael McHale

McHale is the president of the National Association of Police Organizations.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21)

Rep. Stefanik was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2014 and the youngest Republican woman ever elected to Congress. She was a member of the president’s impeachment defense team during the Senate’s impeachment trial in January, and she is running for reelection in 2020.

Madison Cawthorn

Cawthorn is running for the US House in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional district. A paraplegic following a 2014 car accident, he won a surprise victory in a June 2020 primary over Trump-endorsed candidate Lynda Bennett.

Cawthorn has attracted some controversy over concerns about his biography (he claimed to have been nominated to the US Naval Academy before his incident, but those claims were untrue) and his business and sources of income (financial disclosures show millions in assets but no “earned” income).

Chen Guangcheng

Chen Guangcheng is a prominent Chinese human rights activist who denounced the Chinese government’s policies on abortion and people with disabilities. He escaped house arrest in 2012 and was sheltered in the American Embassy in Beijing until he and his family were granted US visas and immigrated to the United States.

Lara Trump

Lara Trump is senior adviser to Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and wife to Eric Trump.

Burgess Owens

Owens is a former NFL player and current congressional candidate in Utah’s Fourth Congressional District. He attracted some criticism this week over allegations of plagiarism in his book Why I Stand: From Freedom to the Killing Fields of Socialism (which features a lengthy attack on the late Sen. John Lewis).

Sam Vigil

Vigil is the widower of Jacqueline Vigil, who was shot and killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in November 2019. He will be speaking on Operation Legend, a federal initiative aimed at stemming violent crime launched earlier this year.

Clarence Henderson

Henderson participated in the Greensboro Woolworth lunch counter sit-in in 1960 and has been a longtime conservative activist, writing in February of this year, “Donald Trump has done more to empower African Americans than any U.S. president since Abraham Lincoln.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Sen. Ernst was elected to the Senate in 2014. In November 2014, Joni was elected as the first woman to serve in federal elected office from Iowa and also became the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the US Senate. In Washington, Joni serves on five Senate committees of major importance to Iowans: Armed Services; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Environment and Public Works; Judiciary; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Richard Grenell

Grenell served as United States ambassador to Germany from 2018 to 2020, presidential envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, and as acting director of National Intelligence in 2020. He was the first openly gay US government Cabinet official and has become a prominent voice among gay conservatives.


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