WHAT TO WATCH: Pence, Conway and protest pushback at RNC

Eric Trump, the son of President Donald Trump, tapes his speech for the second day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Andrew Harnik, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LAS VEGAS – Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the marquee speech Wednesday night at the Republican convention, making the case for another four years for President Donald Trump and laying the foundation for his own potential White House run in 2024.

Pence, whose future political aspirations could hinge on November, has campaigned aggressively for the president. He’s likely to continue making a forceful case in his address while touching on cultural divides that been peppered throughout the convention’s program.

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What to watch Wednesday night:


Pence is delivering the evening’s keynote from Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, where Americans defended Baltimore Harbor from the British in the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Pence, who is expected to speak to a crowd at the national monument, is likely to pay tribute to American symbols like the national anthem and draw a contrast with social justice demonstrators. Pence has helped steer the White House response to the coronavirus, leading a task force and frequently working with the nation’s governors. The GOP convention has mentioned the virus far less than Democrats did last week, but Pence could throw it back into focus if he speaks about the work he’s led.


Kellyanne Conway, one of the most visible representatives of the Trump administration, will make a convention appearance days before she leaves the White House.

Conway managed Trump’s campaign during the last stretch of the 2016 race, becoming the first woman to successfully steer a White House bid. She then became a senior counselor to the president and made unyielding and occasionally befuddling defenses of Trump in her media appearances, coining the phrase “alternative facts” in one rebuttal.

Conway, whose husband has become an outspoken Trump critic, says she is stepping away to spend more time with her family. Before she does at the end of the month, expect her to use the stage to make one more vigorous pitch for the president.


Before her husband closes out the evening, Karen Pence is scheduled to speak. She has been hitting the campaign trail on behalf of the president and her husband this year. An evangelical Christian and former first lady of Indiana, Pence is seen as speaking particularly to suburban women and is likely to interweave politics and faith into her remarks. Look to whether she joins several speakers this week in sharing a personal story that aims to convey the president’s empathy.


Pence's speech is expected to highlight the president's opposition to those protesting racial injustice, such as professional athletes kneeling during the anthem. Other speakers are likely to continue on the theme and Trump's law-and-order message. Clarence Henderson, a civil rights activist from the 1960s, is expected to speak on the “true meaning of peaceful protest." Also taking the stage will be Burgess Owens, a Black conservative who is running for a Democrat-held Utah congressional seat. Owens, 69, a former NFL player and Fox News Channel commentator, grew up in segregated Tallahassee, Florida, and said during cable news appearances that he disagreed with athletes kneeling during the anthem.


The theme will be “Land of Heroes,” and the lineup features several military veterans, including New York Rep Lee Zeldin, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst.

Other GOP officials and rising stars on tap to speak include Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump.


Unlike Trump during the Democratic convention, Joe Biden has not planned public appearances to counter the GOP message. His running mate, however, has several events planned Wednesday. California Sen. Kamala Harris is expected to appear at an afternoon virtual event aimed at reaching out to Black women in Michigan and to headline three virtual fundraisers.


The program starts at 8:30 p.m. ET (a half-hour earlier than the DNC convention) and runs through 11 p.m. ET. It’s available on the GOP convention’s social media channels and AT&T U-VERSE, Direct TV, Twitch, Youtube and Amazon Prime TV. CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC and PBS will air the full prime-time presentation while ABC, CBS, Fox News Channel and NBC will air the final hour, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.


Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe in Washington and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

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