WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — Donald Trump is promising a show at the Cleveland GOP convention. You’d expect nothing else from a braggadocio showman. It won’t be your father’s Republican convention — that’s for sure.
Trump hasn’t laid out specifics but Paul Manafort, a Trump advisor, told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, “This is the ultimate reality show. It’s the presidency of the United States.”
And he will have the stage all to himself since former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are passing on Cleveland. So too will former GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain.
It’s a blank slate and Trump gets to fill out the lineup card.
Hillary Clinton isn’t so lucky.
The soon-to-be presumptive nominee is facing a July convention that could put her in knots for the fall election.
Take one tweet from Jimmy Star that probably isn’t far off from the sentiment of some very ardent Bernie Sanders supporters.
Clinton will have to find a significant place for Sanders and his supporters at the July Democratic convention in Philadelphia. She won’t, by any means, have the stage or the TV screens all to herself.
And there’s her political problem. And the contrast may be stark.
Trump’s convention will be built around Trump. Hillary’s won’t be built completely around her.
The Philadelphia convention where Clinton will likely make history as the first female nominee for president of a major party will be built instead as a house of cards. One card placed carefully after another. The Obama card. The Biden card. The Bill Clinton card. And Bernie’s cards representing Sanders and his supporters.
It’s no easy task. One slip up and…
Clinton is risking alienating general election voters who will have already seen the Trump convention the prior week and be keenly interested in what the Democrats choose to reveal to the country. One dustup after another from irritable Sanders supporters in the swampy July Philly heat may not be a pretty picture.
And let’s be honest. The Democrats have fouled up a one car parade before. Just look at Jimmy Carter’s 1980 convention where a disjointed gathering ended with attendants who couldn’t get the balloons to drop on cue. A hapless Jimmy Carter looked on as the band played “Happy Days are Here Again” with the balloons stuck in a net in the rafters. Carter lost in a landslide.
Clinton has more than balloons to worry about and striking up the band at the right time. She will play more orchestra conductor herself. Cue President Obama. Cue Sanders. Cue the Kumbaya moments. She has quite the task.
You get the sense it’s like the family photo where the department store photographer has to force a few relatives to get a little closer and smile with sincerity.
Trump advisor Manafort is right. It is the ultimate reality show.
Follow Media General Washington Bureau Chief Jim Osman on Twitter @jimosman.