(CNN)President Donald Trump and the GOP will seize the spotlight Monday evening on the first night of the Republican National Convention hoping to convince voters that he will preserve America as a “land of promise” while his rival Joe Biden would be a puppet of the radical left.
Tapping his roots as a television producer, Trump has been heavily involved in the planning for the four-day event, instructing organizers that he wanted to do more live programming and dynamic segments than the Democrats broadcast during their convention last week. The convention’s prime-time programming begins at 8:30 p.m. ET.Though he has criticized Biden and the Democrats for holding what he called the darkest, angriest, gloomiest convention in history, he touched off the convention Monday morning by unearthing his grievances from the 2016 election and falsely suggesting that the election will be rigged against Republicans because many voters are turning to mail-in ballots due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.”We caught them doing some really bad things in 2016. Let’s see what happens,” Trump told delegates Monday morning. “We have to be very careful because they’re trying it again, this whole 80 million mail-in ballots that they’re working on. Sending them out to people that didn’t ask for them. They didn’t ask, they just get them, and it’s not fair and it’s not right. And it’s not going to be possible to tabulate, in my opinion.”Though the Trump administration has been undermining the operations of the post office for months — with changes made under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that include removing high-volume sorting machines, while cutting overtime and post office hours — the President claimed without evidence that Democrats are attempting to create a smokescreen with the postal service controversy to cover up election maneuvering.Read MoreHe is seeking to frame his presidency this week as one defined by roaring success in the economy, focusing on gains in retail sales and the stock market despite the millions of people who have lost their job due to the nation’s Covid-19 shutdown earlier this year. There will be an entire segment Monday night devoted to changing the perception, shared by large majorities of voters, that Trump has mishandled the pandemic and was slow to act during the critical months of February and March.Throughout the week, the Republican National Committee is hoping to highlight the stories of small business owners and Covid-19 survivors who plan to share how the Trump administration helped them get through the crisis.Monday night’s program will feature Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.; former Trump ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley; and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the party’s only Black senator who championed the GOP’s version of police reform after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer.The campaign will highlight regular Americans who will counter criticisms of the President over his handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout and who back his positions on issues like gun control, taxes and the use of experimental drugs for terminally ill patients while portraying him as a man of hidden compassion.Officials, lawmakers and allies of the President will attempt to rebut four days of Democratic criticisms of his response to the pandemic.While there will be an audience when Trump delivers his address from the South Lawn on Thursday, sources tell CNN the RNC and Trump campaign scrapped plans to have a live audience at the Mellon Auditorium, where Donald Trump Jr. and others will give their speeches on Monday. Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited in Washington, DC, due to the coronavirus pandemic and it became too much of a headache to figure out how to safely have an effective audience, an official involved in the planning told CNN.Trump Jr., the night’s keynote speaker, will describe “Trump’s America as a land of opportunity — a place of promise” while Haley will argue that the President stood up for the United States in the world.Trump is expected to speak during the program, including for a conversation with front-line workers who will join him at the White House to discuss the work they have been doing during the pandemic.Earlier Monday, Trump was formally nominated for reelection by cheering delegates.As the delegates cheered him with the traditional “Four more years!” directed toward an incumbent president running for reelection, Trump said, “If you really want to drive them crazy, you say 12 more years.”This is a breaking story and will be updated.