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What To Expect From GOP Convention In Cleveland


Last September, there were 17 Republican candidates. That field has been narrowed down to a single man, Donald Trump. When the Republican convention begins tomorrow, party delegates will officially nominate him to be their presidential candidate. WEEKEND EDITION host Rachel Martin is in the Quicken Loan Arena in Cleveland, and she joins me now. Good morning, Rachel.

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: Hi, Lynn. Yeah, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

NEARY: (Laughter).

MARTIN: Quicken Loans Arena. It is also affectionately known as The Q, which is what everyone's calling it around here.

NEARY: I like that better, much easier. So is Cleveland ready?

MARTIN: I'd say the city is ready to get this whole thing going. The Quicken Loans Arena is also where the Cleveland Cavaliers play. Of course, they won the NBA championship this past year, so the RNC is hoping for some of that winning karma with this convention. It's quite the scene. We're in the arena right now. I'm looking at all those balloons that are netted up on the ceiling that will be released this week. There's some hubbub as people put the finishing touches on the stage. They're putting up a couple make America great signs. So yeah, they're ready to get the party started.

NEARY: Now, outside that arena - outside The Q, as you call it - there is concern about the possibility of protests because there have been protests outside of Donald Trump's rallies during the campaign. And police are preparing for that as well, right?

MARTIN: Yeah, completely. This is something everyone's been talking about, the need to kind of reassure people that security will be in place. Lots of folks are expected to be in this city this week. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the newspaper here, says 50,000 people are expected to be in Cleveland. Dozens of groups from across the ideological spectrum have asked permission to march in the streets. There is a pretty robust security perimeter set up around The Q. And there are designated areas, Lynn, for all these protests to happen.

Of course, there's no telling whether the demonstrators are going to stick to those areas. But just walking around the city yesterday and today - yeah, we've definitely seen police out on corners, walking in groups. We saw a group of dozens of them kitted out in body cameras who went by The Q on bicycles. So they're definitely making their presence known.

NEARY: Now, Trump won't accept the nomination until Thursday night. What's on the agenda for the next couple of days, the next few days?

MARTIN: Well, you know, interestingly, we didn't really know the answer to that question until pretty late in the game. The Trump campaign released the list of speakers last Thursday, which is later than usual. When we got it, it made official what we had kind of known already, that there are a lot of Republican Party standard bearers who aren't coming - no John McCain, no member of the Bush family, no Mitt Romney.

We do know that the Trump family is going to play a big role this week, his oldest daughter, Ivanka, in particular, who is at this point expected to introduce her father Thursday night. The speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is also going to talk, which is a big deal considering his long-standing criticisms of Trump. In the end, he came around and endorsed him, and will be speaking. But we can guess his address will focus less on the presidential nominee himself and more on the broader party as he tries to, you know, drum up support for congressional Republicans down the ticket.

And, of course, Trump himself will be the marquee speaker. He told Fox News last night that he's going to use the convention to send a message about law and order, clearly trying to establish himself as one who can bring some stability in this moment.

NEARY: And, of course, the Never Trump movement was hoping to have another candidate for delegates to vote on, but that's gone away altogether now, right?

MARTIN: Indeed, Never Trump is pretty much dead. The people who were leading that charge that tried to push a rule change that would've unbound delegates so they could vote against Trump if they had wanted to, that effort failed, which means Thursday night Donald Trump will most certainly become the GOP's nominee.

NEARY: And, Rachel, you are going to be in Cleveland all week, right?

MARTIN: Indeed. We've teamed up with the PBS NewsHour to bring you joint coverage of both conventions, actually, so you can listen to us and you can watch us on PBS. So stay tuned, lots to come.

NEARY: Great. Rachel Martin in Cleveland. Thanks so much, Rachel.

MARTIN: You're welcome, Lynn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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