Analysis: Student journalists cover Republican National Convention


Reporters Caleb Audia and Tyler Parker break down the Republican National Convention, a four-night event, for readers. The nationwide virtual meeting started its first evening of business on Monday, Aug. 24. On the fourth night, Republican Presidential nominee and current president Donald Trump broadcasted his acceptance speech, and made a plethora of campaign promises – including a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, more American jobs, higher national security, and enforcement of police and national guards in cities facing disruption.

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First, A Little in the Past

Philadelphia, June 17, 1856, marked the first Republican National Convention. The convention only lasted two nights and covered the possible contributions to the upcoming civil war.

At the time, a large number of abolitionists attended to protest the Kansas-Nebraska Act – which allowed for more territory devoted to slavery along the south. The convention that took place in 1856 chose John C. Frémont as the republican presidential nominee.

Now, zoom forward to 2020
Night 1

Monday, Aug. 24, marked the first night of the Republican National Convention and focused on the accomplishments the Republican party has had since the election of Republican President Donald J. Trump. A steady flow of unity seemed to work among the members of the virtual convention, with little disagreement shown.

The first speaker, Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative student group, spoke on what he believed will transform the American election.

“I am here tonight to tell you — to warn you — that this election is a decision between preserving America as we know it,” Kirk said. “… And, eliminating everything that we love.”

Kirk also spoke out against the Black Lives Matter protestors and activists, some, which sparked riots: “Trump was elected to protect our families (from a) vengeful mob that wishes to destroy our way of life, our neighborhoods, schools, church and values,” Kirk said.

Throughout the night, many speakers referred to the Black Lives Matter protests and rioting as key points of how the Democratic party and candidates act on the safety of their communities. Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz referred to Trump as a “visionary” in terms of getting the United States back under control — both economically and politically — versus the Biden campaign and Democratic processes.

“They’ll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door,” Gaetz said. “And the ‘defunded police’ aren’t on their way.”

On the first night of the convention, speakers gave numerous politically-endorsed statements of disapproval on Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden. These references can be compared to what was seen in the Democratic National Convention last week. These included accusations of the Biden campaign defunding the police forces, ‘I.C.E.’ forces, and included clips of Biden mispronouncing the name of Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee – Kamala Harris. Ohio congressman Jim Jordan also joined in for calling out the differences in the way that Conservative and Democratic officials are doing to combat racial injustice and public safety.

“Look what is happening in American cities, cities run by Democrats. Crime, violence, and mob rule,” Jordan said. “Democrats refuse to denounce the mob and the response to the chaos is to defund the police, the border patrol, and our military.”

Night 2

Tuesday, Aug. 25, marked the second evening of the Republican National Convention and featured First Lady Melania Trump’s speech.

“No matter the amount of negative or false media headlines or attacks from the other side, Donald Trump has not and will not lose focus,” Mrs. Trump said. “He loves this country and knows how to get things done.”

She also covered the racial unrest, and the protests from the Black Lives Matter movement. She did not reference any specific side, and instead of provoking the opposing viewpoint, her speech could be seen as an attempt to unite all.

“Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country,” the First Lady said. “It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history. I encourage you to focus on the future while still learning from the past.”

The second night of the convention brought numerous speakers highlighting their reasons as to why they believe President Trump should be re-elected as the 46th President of the United States.

“My father ran, not because he needed the job, but because he knew hardworking people across this great country were being left behind,” President Trump’s eldest son, Eric Trump, said.

The convention also shared speakers who took stances against abortion and promoted Trump’s determination to defeat Planned Parenthood and make abortions illegal.

“I was expected to sell double the abortions performed the previous year,” former Planned Parenthood employee Abby Johnson said. “When I pushed back, underscoring Planned Parenthood’s public-facing goal of decreasing abortions, I was reprimanded and told abortion is how we make our money.”

Republicans appear to have become key to the anti-abortion movement and its members, including Trump, who encouraged states to limit abortion amid the COVID-19 pandemic several months ago.

In addition, one speaker who was unexpected during the convention — a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, Cris Peterson, presented the story of the hardships farmers have endured this year. Peterson’s shared how her farm burned down, and she said her family suffered economically until Trump’s economic policies and attentiveness to farmers’ struggles aided her family to restart.

“President Trump understands that farming is a complicated, capital-intensive and risky business,” Peterson said. “More than any president in my lifetime, he has acknowledged the importance of farmers and agriculture. That support and focus on negotiating new trade deals gave us the confidence to rebuild our barn and dairy operation.”

Night 3

Wednesday, Aug. 26 was the third night of the Republican National Convention and included many notable speakers included Melania Trump, Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump. On night 3, the convention shared stories from heroic Americans from all different life stories, and continued to highlight stories of the strength Trump’s agenda has provided since his election in 2016.

Vice President Mike Pence, also, outlined and showcased the possible “dangerous” future of the United States if the Democratic nominees were to win the election.

“On Nov. 3rd, you need to ask yourself: Who do you trust to rebuild this economy?” Pence said. “A career politician who presided over the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, or a proven leader who created the greatest economy in the world?”

On night three, as Pence accepted the nomination to run and serve as Vice President again, he gave incentive of the progress that has been made during President Trump’s first term.

Throughout the convention, many of the guest speakers revolved their support for the Trump campaign as a result of the “Law and Order” promise, determination, and funding that the administration has brought and supported.

“If we continue down the path taken by the Democrats and their radical supporters, from Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs,” Gov. Kristi Noem, of South Dakota, said. “The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder.”

The third night also featured many women guest speakers, who highlighted Trump as being supportive of women’s rights and equality. “A woman in a leadership role can still seem novel. Not so for President Trump,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counselor said. “He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men. President Trump helped me shatter a barrier in the world of politics by empowering me to manage his campaign to its successful conclusion.”

Another noticeable speaker, Clarence Henderson, spoke about the Trump administration’s impact on the African American community. Henderson participated in the Greensboro sit-ins in the 1960s. He explained that the Trump administration has “done more for black Americans in 4 years than Joe Biden has done in 50.”

Tera Myer, a mother of a son with down syndrome, spoke on the Trump. administration’s decision to go back to school during the CoronaVirus pandemic. She said that the Trump Administration “did not dismiss my son. He showed Samuel he valued him and was proud of what he accomplished. President Trump gave Samuel an equal seat at the table.”

Night 4

Thursday, Aug. 27, marked the last night of the convention, and it included a bold promise by Trump — that a COVID-19 vaccine would be on the scene by the end of the year.

“We will have a safe and effective vaccine this year, and we will crush the virus,” Pence said. “We’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.”

While Trump’s speech claimed an hour and 10 minutes, it included a variety of topics, such as racial inequality, campaign promises, economic relief and COVID-19 vaccinations.

“In the new term as president, we will again build the greatest economy in history, quickly returning to full employment, soaring incomes and record prosperity,” Trump said. “Because we understand that America is not a land cloaked in darkness. America is the torch that enlightens the entire world.”

Also included in his speech was a warning that accused Biden of not taking in the negative effects of a government and national shutdown.

“The cost of the Biden shutdown would be measured in increased drug overdoses, depression, alcohol addiction, suicides, heart attacks, economic devastation, job loss and much more,” Trump said.

While Biden has never presented a proposition to shut down the nation, he did mention that he would listen to CDC and government health officials, if elected, on what the best precautions would be to limit the exposure and spread. During the fourth night of the convention, guest speakers used the current state of New York City and the leadership shown by Mayor Bill de Blasio as talking points.

“This Democrat mayor, like others, has often prevented the police from making arrests, and even when arrests are made, liberal progressive (district attorneys) released the rioters so as not to disrupt the rioting,” former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said. “New Yorkers wonder how we get overwhelmed by crime so quickly and decline so fast? Don’t let Democrats do to America what they have done to New York.”

Patrick Lynch, police union chief of New York City, offered a similar warning.

“The Democrats have walked away from us,” Lynch said. “They have walked away from police officers, and they’ve walked away from the innocent people we protect.”

To conclude this overview of night four, Sean Ryers, the Utah Attorney general spoke on President Trump’s fight on human trafficking. Ryers said President Trump has “helped stop the trafficking of women, children, and young men.” reported a 200% rise in human trafficking arrests for 2019.


To conclude, viewers gave this convention, mixed, but generally positive reviews. Trump and Pence’s speeches claimed spots among the most-watched segments of the convention, yet the most-approved segment featured Madison Cawthorn, a disabled GOP congressional candidate who is fighting to be the youngest person elected to Congress. Cawthorn made an impression on viewers when he stood up, out of his wheelchair for the American flag.


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