Finley: Republican Convention Notebook

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

I've been in Charlotte, North Carolina, to cover the Republican National Convention. It's my 13th convention, and as I say in my column today, it's the strangest.

There's really nobody here. When the convention opened Monday morning, there were just about 500 Republican delegates and officials in the convention hall. 

And yet the session had plenty of firepower. Both President Donald Trump and VP Mike Pence showed up.

Trump set the tone for his reelection campaign. He'll be talking about gun rights, border control and curtailing abortions. He'll be speaking to the GOP base, in hopes of turning out enough Republicans and right-leaning independents to put him over the top, the way he did in 2016.

President Donald Trump speaks on stage during the first day of the Republican National Committee convention, Monday in Charlotte.

And he and the GOP will pound the message that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris make up a radical ticket that's too far left for America.

Other thoughts on the Republican convention:

► Michigan should be proud of Ronna Romney McDaniel. As she noted in her convention speech Monday night, she's only the second woman to chair the Republican National Committee. She told me in an interview here Sunday the president always treats her with respect, will listen when she offers critiques, and as she notes, she's lasted four years, an unusual feat for those in Trump's sphere.

► Republicans featured several African Americans in their opening videos. They could have used a few during the delegate roll call earlier in the day. More than 50 delegates stood up to pledge their states and territories to Trump, and not a single one was African American. If it weren't for Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa, there wouldn't have been any ethnic diversity. That's not going to cut it in 2020.

► If you're white in America, you have the right and freedom to choose where you stand politically. If you're Black, not so much. Singer Jaheim is being slammed for calling Trump "a great man" on social media. George Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones got it right in his RNC address: "The Democratic Party doesn't want blacks to leave their mental plantation." Jones noted that when he endorsed Trump, he was threatened, called an embarrassment and a traitor, and asked to resign from his party.

► Trump got everyone worked up for saying in his convention appearance that he thinks Democratic governors will keep the nation shut down until after the November election to aid Biden's chances. I've said the same thing about Michigan, and believe it to be true. 

► In his conversation with frontline pandemic workers, Trump told a trucker, "I love truck drivers. I think they all support me." That's very likely close to true of the drivers, but not their union. The Teamsters Union is again bucking its members and endorsing the Democratic ticket. 

► How did Democratic mouthpiece CNN react to that impressive segment? By noting the group on stage was "not socially distant." CNN didn't have its tape measure out last week during the DNC. A taste of how the networks will cover the Republicans in contrast to their fawning coverage of Democrats. 

► Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is a superstar. My bet is the 2024 presidential race will pit Haley against Sen. Kamala Harris. Talk about historic. How many politicians of color have the courage to say what she said Monday night: "America is not a racist country."

► Donald Trump Jr. missed his moment. The night didn't need another attack on Joe Biden. It needed a softening of Trump. Who better to do that than a son?

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