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Trump Considering Speaking Off Site During His Own Convention

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump flashes two thumbs up during a rally at Gilley's in Dallas on Thursday.
LM Otero AP
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump flashes two thumbs up during a rally at Gilley's in Dallas on Thursday.

Who would expect a Donald Trump Republican convention to be conventional, right?

Modern conventions have been staid affairs — except for the sometimes rogue empty chair. But Trump is considering ways to upend all that, campaign sources confirm to NPR.

Trump campaign advisers have said previously that, in a departure from custom, Trump could make an address to the delegates each night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month. (Typically, party leaders give major speeches each evening leading up to the big moment. Prime convention speaking slots are often given to up-and-comers in the party as a way to highlight potential future leaders. These are usually weeklong celebrations culminating with an acceptance speech by the newly crowned nominee.)


Under consideration: Trump speaking to the convention via satellite from off-site locations in battleground states. Under one proposal, each night of the convention would open with a short film focused on a "problem" facing the nation — failing schools, opioid addiction, border security or government waste. People featured in the film would be introduced, followed by a 45-minute speech from Trump focused on a "solution" to the problem being presented.

At a rally in Dallas this week, Trump said he is considering having what he described as a "winner's night," highlighting celebrity endorsers like controversial and hot-tempered former college basketball coach Bobby Knight; former pro football player Herschel Walker; Dana White of the UFC mixed martial arts company; boxing promoter Don King; former college basketball coach Digger Phelps; and others.

"We're thinking about doing something that's different," Trump said, "rather than listening to politicians talk — 'Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much,' and everyone's falling asleep ..."

It worked in Indiana, Trump contended.

"Hey, by the way, excuse me!" Trump said. "We went to a place called Indiana and Bobby Knight endorsed me. Boy, did that happen! Right? So many of the great people. We have such unbelievable endorsements ... winners, they're winners! There aren't many winners. But you take these winners, and we're gonna have them speak."


Trump said he hadn't yet asked those supporters to speak but added that he expects his "winners' night" would be "the best-attended night of the whole deal."

Asked for response, Republican National Convention press secretary Audrey Scagnelli said the campaign and convention staff are having conversations about the "production and program" but are not yet ready to make any specific announcements.

"These conversations are happening together," she added.

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