Trump to speak on first day of GOP convention

Greg Nash

CLEVELAND — Donald Trump will appear on the Republican National Convention stage for the first time Monday to introduce his wife, Melania, days before he is officially due to address delegates gathered here.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, told reporters Monday that the pair would be flying into Cleveland for her prime-time address, and Trump will be speaking publicly.

{mosads}“Mr. Trump will be accompanying his wife. … They’ll be flying in together,” he said. “He will introduce her tonight, and she will speak. They will then, after her comments … go back to New York.”

Manafort added that Trump will “officially” arrive in Cleveland for the convention on Wednesday, one day before he is expected to accept the GOP presidential nomination.

“He wanted to be here for the speech she is going to give,” he said.

Trump had indicated that he was considering coming to Cleveland for his wife’s speech, but his arrival was not formally confirmed until Manafort’s comments.

Manafort described the overall goal of the convention will be to present a more nuanced picture of Trump. He argued that Trump, while a well-known public figure and reality television star, was not known in a political context, making the convention an opportunity to flesh out that portrait.

“The biography of the man, while he is known from a topical standpoint, really is not very well-known,” he said. “The overall convention will be to present Mr. Trump, not just as a political figure running for office, but as the father, the businessman, as the compassionate human being that he is when the spotlight isn’t on.” 

Beyond presenting Trump to voters, much of the convention will be spent on hammering Trump’s Democratic challenger for the White House, Hillary Clinton. Manafort described her as “the ultimate establishment candidate,” given her decades of public service.

“All the problems that she’s campaigning against are problems that came on her watch, with her involvement,” he said.

At the same time, he acknowledged a side goal of the convention will be to unite the Republican Party. Many elected officials and top-ranking party elders have opted not to attend the convention, where Trump will be handed the nomination. Manafort maintained that the party was rallying around Trump as its standard-bearer, adding that the recent pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate “accelerated what was already a quickly accelerating unification process.”

Manafort shot down the idea of any sort of revolt on the convention floor, despite lingering efforts from some GOP delegates opposed to Trump. Efforts to upend Trump’s nomination were stymied at the Rules Committee last week, and Manafort said he expects the rules package, and the party’s platform, to be swiftly adopted with no changes.

“I don’t expect any further issues there,” he said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that some prominent Republicans are still not on board with Trump.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who challenged Trump for the nomination, will be not be attending the convention in his home state. And no one from the Bush family, which includes two former presidents and another Trump challenger, will be in Cleveland either.

Manafort said the Trump campaign has made efforts to rebuild those bridges but was ready to move forward with or without them.

“This campaign is focusing on 2016, and while we wanted them here, we understand that they didn’t want to be here,” he said. “Healing takes time, and we understand that.”

Tags Donald Trump GOP convention Hillary Clinton Mike Pence

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