The Republican National Convention wrapped up Thursday evening, with President Donald Trump officially accepting his party’s nomination for president in a speech lasting over an hour.
Mark Jones, a political analyst and professor at Rice University, told Texas Standard that Trump’s speech, for the most part, was “flatter” than usual because he was using a teleprompter. But it was still controversial: he spoke from the White House, a decision criticized by many for breaking protocol. Jones said Trump was “using the White House as a prop for a national political convention.”
The White House gave mixed messages about the decision to hold Trump’s speech there, calling it an “unprecedented time” because of the pandemic, but also saying Trump is “willing to travel everywhere.”
In his speech, Jones said Trump promoted himself as a protector of law and order in a time of mass protests against police violence and systemic racism.
Trump also spoke of a future in which the economy is stronger and the pandemic is over. Jones said Trump had to focus on the future because the country is in crisis right now; his message was, “the best is going to come,” Jones said.
“He can’t make a claim that it already is here, given the economic problems we’re experiencing, and the COVID-19 difficulties.”
Throughout his presidency, Trump has maintained a base of supporters. And Jones said that is who he was speaking to Thursday night. But Jones said Trump also needs to attract new voters if he wants to win in November, including Independents, as well as young voters and immigrants who perhaps didn’t vote in 2016.
“Trump actually needs to be expanding his base if he’s going to defeat Joe Biden,” Jones said.
Similar to the Democratic National Convention, the RNC did not feature many Texan speakers. Congressman Dan Crenshaw from Houston was one “token” Texan, who spoke for just a few minutes. Jones said the convention was much more centered around Trump and those he’s closest to, including his family who collectively spoke for over an hour. Jones said that was “unprecedented.”
The lack of Texans was less a sign of whether Republicans feel the state is in play in November and more an indication of who is in Trump’s inner circle, Jones said – “within which there aren’t many Texans, if any at all.”