What to watch for on Day 3 at the GOP convention

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CLEVELAND — Newly minted vice presidential nominee Mike Pence highlights Wednesday’s third day of the Republican National Convention. 

With party business and Donald Trump’s official presidential nomination all settled and any long-shot attempts to deny him the nomination in the rearview mirror, the third day should be a day of unity. 

It also means the business portion of the convention is over, so programming won’t start until 7 p.m. 

{mosads}That will give the thousands of delegates, convention-goers and reporters who trekked to The Forest City a full day to take in the sights and sounds. 

Back on the floor, the party plans to trot out a handful of the nominee’s former rivals and other notable conservatives all touting the day’s theme: Make America First Again. 

Here’s what to watch for during the convention’s third day.   

Pence makes his case

The Indiana governor’s keynote is easily the most-anticipated event of the night, when the longtime politician will hit a friendly stage as his official roll out continues.

It’s been less than one week since Trump tapped him for the vice presidential nomination, a pick that has given the party’s establishment hope that their nominee is moving in the right direction. 

But while he has the resume, Pence doesn’t have the broad-based name recognition like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, two of Trump’s other top choices. 

Trump didn’t help the cause when he unveiled Pence last week in a speech where he mostly passed over his running mate. 

So now Pence has another chance to make his case to the prime-time network audience on the party’s top stage.  

The GOP’s young guns take the stage  

Three of Trump’s vanquished rivals will hit the stage Wednesday — Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), and Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.). 

All eyes will be on Cruz, one of Trump’s most high-profile holdouts who many see as already laying the groundwork for his next presidential bid. 

He has repeatedly refused to endorse the party’s nominee outright, so a “Kumbaya” moment would be a surprise welcomed by Team Trump with open arms. If an endorsement isn’t on the table, Cruz will likely lay into his favorite target — presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — as he works to leave a strong impression on those who may help in any future presidential bid. 

Walker, who previously backed Cruz over Trump in his state’s primary, also has future presidential aspirations. So his speech serves as his best chance to remind Republicans why they saw him as a potential presidential front-runner just one year ago. 

Rubio won’t be at the convention in person — he’s sending in a video message. He had previously said he’d be in Cleveland but changed his mind, arguing he needs to campaign in Florida before his August primary because he made a last-minute decision to run for reelection to the Senate. 

The inner circle gets a shot  

The Trump convention has been a family affair — Trump’s wife, Melania, his daughter, Tiffany, and son, Donald Jr., have all already taken the stage. 

On Wednesday, it will be Eric Trump’s turn to vouch for the GOP presidential nominee as not just a successful businessman but also a good father. 

Donald Trump’s convention has emphasized family as he looks to soften his image in the face of low favorability ratings. 

The program also welcomes back a convention veteran — Gingrich and his wife, Callista. Gingrich, a Trump vice presidential finalist, has been a crucial surrogate for the GOP nominee and will likely attempt to continue to build a bridge between Trump and any wary establishment Republicans. 

Rolling out “Make America First Again” 

The latest take on the iconic Trump slogan centers on creating a binary between what’s seen as the languishing policies of the Obama administration and the promise of a restoration when Trump secures the Oval Office for the GOP. 

To drill that point home, the convention will feature a handful of entrepreneurs and business executives to complement some larger names.

Popular talk show host Laura Ingraham, a familiar face to almost every Republican watching in the convention hall and across the country, is scheduled to speak. She rarely shies away from a harsh indictment of the Obama administration, so the early Trump booster will try to make that binary clear.  

And Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, another convention speaker who earned praise from national Republicans for her legal push to block ObamaCare, will likely fall back on those efforts as yet another way to raise the stakes of another Democratic president for Republicans. 

Trump could make another appearance 

Convention audiences don’t typically get to see their nominee until he accepts the party’s nomination, but Trump is not a conventional nominee.

While Trump isn’t scheduled to accept the nomination until Thursday, he told the convention audience that he’ll be in Cleveland on Wednesday with Pence, an announcement that raised the specter of yet another Trump convention appearance.  

He already surprised the crowd with a dramatic entrance Monday night to introduce his wife and filmed a video message on Tuesday night. So if he drops by Quicken Loans Arena once more, he’ll speak all four nights. 

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio Mike Pence Ted Cruz

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