Following the DNC held in Milwaukee from August 17th to 20th, the 2020 RNC was also held for four days, from August 24th to 27th. The choice of dates was a smart one for the simple reason that the media had to put more attention on covering the on-going RNC than following up the post-DNC conversations. So would the general public including me in spending our time. Trump has TV experience and he certainly knows how to use it in the RNC by hiring TV program creators (For example, Sadoux Kim and Chuck Labella associated with the Apprentice). The pandemic limited the DNC and RNC in the same way, but the difference was like Hollywood movie production versus a low budget documentary. Of course, Trump may have cunningly used the White House and DC backdrop for special effects, but that has always been the privilege for an incumbent. Trump treated this event as a talent show and he is the Talent-in-Chief. The sequence of two party national conventions has always become been the challenging party first and the incumbent second since 1956. In view of the advantage the incumbent party has, perhaps the sequence should be determined by draw and be set at least ten days apart.
The Republican Party had selected Charlotte, North Carolina for its convention site. Due to COVID-19, the RNC had restricted to 60 delegates per state (plus 36 convention staff) to attend the first day in Charlotte (originally planned for 2500 attendees). Then the RNC was moved to Jacksonville in next three days conducting a virtual convention with speakers mostly delivering from Andrew Mellon Auditorium or White House. The Republican Party has decided to retain the 2016 platform thus reducing the necessary meetings needed at the convention (DNC had caucus meetings in Milwaukee). This may be RNC’s second smart decision made before the Convention, it not only reduced quite a number of in-person meetings but also eliminated any bickering on issues which essentially allowed President Trump to focus on elaborating his fulfillment of his last campaign promises which he surely did in his acceptance speech. The voters would have heard and gained more and better familiarities on RNC’s policies and issues than on DNC’s platform proposals. (furthermore Trump’s deeds have been scrutinized for nearly four years by the media) So the contrast of DNC and RNC can be viewed as one defending (Trump’s) performance and one convincing (Biden’s) ability - a comparison we voters must pay close attention.
The four-day RNC agenda is themed by Land of Heroes, Land of Promises, Land of Opportunities and Land of Greatness, respectively. RNC filled each Day with speakers and promotional video stories relevant to the theme. The RNC speaker list contains political figures and famous people (as had DNC’s list) including the following: Sen. Tim Scott (KN)(SC), Rep. Steve Scalise (LA), Matt Gaetz (FL) and Jim Jordan (OH), Gov Nikki Haley (SC), Donald Trump Jr., and others. (Day 1) First Lady Melania Trump(KN) , Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Governor Kim Reynolds (IA), Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (FL), AG Daniel Cameron (Ky), f-AG Pam Bondi (FL), Eric and Tiffany Trump and others (Day 2), VP Mike Pence(KN) and Sara Pence, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Joni Ernst (IA), Gov. Kristi Noem (SD), Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY), Lee Zeldin (NY), A. Dir. Natl Intell Richard Grenell, Lara Trump and others (Day 3), President Trump (KN), Sec. of H.U. Ben Carson, Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY), Tom Cotton (AR), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA), and Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Ivanka Trump, former-Mayor Rudy Giuliani (NY) and others. (Day 4)
One must give credits to the Trump family in the speaker list who all had given great speeches in support of Donald Trump. Melania delivered a fine speech from the White House Rose Garden while the President watched, a speech by far better than her 2016 speech. Although Trump’s sons spoke very well but his daughters showed more charisma, Ivanka, an experienced speaker gave a moving and impressive speech to introduce her father on the acceptance night and Tiffany, a fresh college graduate delivered a fine account of her father’s accomplishments. Sure, these speeches may have had speech writers’ polishing, but the sincerity and emotion can not be created by words alone in a public speech. In 2016, many Americans voted for Donald Trump because of his fine family, in 2020, I personally believe that they will still be many voters casting their votes for Donal Trump for the same reason despite of books published defaming him.
Donald Trump loves to give speeches at campaign rally. He flew to Charlotte on the first night of RNC after it completed the nomination and gave a long and enthusiastic speech. The effect is quite positive despite the CNN, MSNBC and others pouring cold water on his speech with fact checks. His acceptance speech was also long and dynamic aided by the staging at the White House providing an ambient perfectly suited for delivering a ‘Keep America First’ speech boiling people’s patriotic blood. Comparing Trump’s speech with Biden’s speech, I would say that Trump sure has solidified his base voters far more than Biden has on his. As for the undecided voter population, no one could predict the result, but if energy, enthusiasm and choreographic ability would mean anything in moving mass, the RNC sure had outdone the DNC. Of course, the post-convention activities may undo some of the impact, Trump had won in 2016 despite of the mainstream media siding with his opponent. Can Trump win again? We will try our best to make an analysis here.
After reviewing the two parties’ conventions, some mainstream media reactions and a few Organic views, I may make the observation that Trump’s strategy is focusing on his claims and showing he has delivered his campaign promise, ‘Keep America First’ and ‘Make America Great’. He will dwell on this big picture and not on the details and tactics by showing that he has won the trade wars against a few nations including our allies. He will correlate the economy (before pandemic) to his tax cuts and deregulation effort to get corporations and jobs back. He will show his strategy of getting our allies to pay defense cost while we beef up our military. He will show by acting tough (before too late) we may still get our way externally and manage the unrest internally. He has picked China as the target to highlight and visualize his ‘Keep America First’ and ‘Make America Great’ playbook regardless whether his accusations against China were true or not. Meanwhile the Democratic Party is denying his claims by faulting his tactics and focusing on details, especially his lies. The fact that the Democrats were silent on China policy is implicitly endorsing Trump’s choreographed big picture screenplay.
Can American voters tell that Trump’s ‘Keep America First and Make America Great’ strategy may fail because of his tactics being too far from the norm and too low beneath the justice? Or Trump knows himself to apply the brakes in time and change his tactics. Nation destiny and world affairs are not like real estate business, bankruptcy is not an option. Trump should be smart enough to know that (keep calling Xi and Putin friends) but does Biden know that? It is not apparent from his silence on China policy and his ignorance on Trump’s big picture screenplay. How should we, especially Chinese Americans, select the next American President, then? I will deal with the question in the next column!