Party Planning

Aides to Trump, Who Wants ‘Show Biz’ Convention, Are Cleveland-Bound

The Republican National Committee briefs the presumptive nominee’s team on voter outreach and opposition research as they head to the convention site.

Celebrity Factor: Trump Plans ‘Show Biz’ Convention

Some of Donald Trump’s most trusted aides will travel to Cleveland this week to ensure the plan for the Republican National Convention—an extravaganza where the presumptive nominee will command the nation's attention for four days—is to their liking.

Trump, a real-estate developer and TV personality who cemented his reputation in the 2016 campaign as a consummate showman, is set to be named the party's nominee during the nationally televised event in July.

Later this week, aides with the Republican National Committee will give tours and planning updates to several members of Trump’s top staff, including deputy campaign manager Michael Glassner, strategist Paul Manafort, political director Rick Wiley, and Rick Gates, a longtime Manafort associate hired last month, said people familiar with the plans.

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The design for the stage is done, the people said. Other details are already in place, such as what the perimeter outside Quicken Loans Arena will look like and which hotels each state delegation has been assigned.

Just a couple weeks ago, the convention was shaping up to be the scene of what Trump ally Roger Stone billed as “days of rage,” with Trump and his closest rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, battling for delegates. Trump heightened the tension with national GOP officials by repeatedly blasting the nominating process as a “rigged” system.

But with Cruz's exit from the race a week ago, the stage at the convention, which runs from July 18-21, will belong to Trump. 

Trump has said it's important to put some “show biz” into the convention. “It should be a monumentally magnificent convention, and it should be brilliantly staged,” he told the Washington Post last month.

On Monday, Trump’s chief aides gathered in Washington for another meeting with the Republican National Committee staff, this one to discuss campaign mechanics and to explain what the party can do to help the soon-to-be nominee. 

Directors from each department at the committee—data, technology, digital, fundraising, communications, research, and finance—gave presentations during the three-hour meeting, according to people who attended. 

The data staff explained how they can help pinpoint the most voter-rich neighborhoods to decide where to locate field organizers and campaign offices, rather than, say, setting up shop in each congressional district.

The technology staff gave Trump's aides a presentation on data that can be collected on a website and security features that they can put in place to prevent hacking.

Research staff touted their treasure trove of opposition research on likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, which includes a searchable video database with exhaustive footage of her from over the years.

The committee's finance staff talked about how many events 2012 nominee Mitt Romney did to reach fundraising targets (more than 100), as well as how many his wife, Ann, hosted. They also answered questions about the proposed joint fundraising agreement between the national party and the campaign, which is expected to be in place this week.

Among the Trump aides in attendance at Monday's meeting were Glassner, Manafort, Wiley, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and legal adviser Don McGahn. A spokesman for the committee, Sean Spicer, confirmed the meeting took place. 

Trump painted himself during the primary race as a scorched-earth outsider candidate who resisted the ways of Washington. Now, he has begun to embrace the party establishment as the general election begins.

That process is hitting snags, however. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is set to preside in Cleveland as convention chairman, last week said he wasn’t ready to endorse Trump yet. Trump said Sunday that he wouldn’t rule out blocking Ryan from serving as chairman, and Ryan said he would step aside from the role if asked. The two are set to meet Thursday.

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