HIGH STAKES

Trump needs to hit all the right notes in his ac­cep­tance speech to make the con­ven­tion a spring­board for his cam­paign, ex­perts say.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - KIM­BERLY M. AQUILINA @MetroNewYork

Don­ald Trump will take the stage Thurs­day to ac­cept the Repub­li­can Party’s nom­i­na­tion to run for pres­i­dent on the fi­nal day of a na­tional con­ven­tion that many hoped would unify the party, tem­per the can­di­date’s image and give him a boost in the polls.

But the first two days of the con­ven­tion, that Trump once promised would be a show­biz ex­trav­a­ganza like noth­ing be­fore it, have been a se­ries of stum­bles that have raised the stakes for what al­ready was the most im­por­tant speech he’s ever likely to make.

Repub­li­can strate­gist Ed Rollins, who is ad­vis­ing a “su­per PAC” sup­port­ing Trump, said he can’t af­ford to make any mis­takes at this point, The New York Times re­ported.

“His speech is the whole game,” Rollins told the Times. “View­ers have to watch it and say, ‘There is the next pres­i­dent of the United States.’”

Other po­lit­i­cal ex­perts said the four-day con­ven­tion in Cleveland hasn’t ac­com­plished much in po­si­tion­ing Trump to take on his Demo­cratic foe, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“The first two days have been sort of a num­ber of in­ci­dents that I think have stepped on what I’m sure Trump would have wanted to be a much cleaner and stronger mes­sage about his can­di­dacy,” said Pa­trick Egan, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at NYU.

The mis­steps at the con­ven­tion have overshadowed the mes­sage, be­gin­ning with the last­ditch ef­fort by the Never Trump del­e­gates to try to deny him the nom­i­na­tion in a rules fight on the first day. That dis­play of party dis­cord was fol­lowed by the em­bar­rass­ment of Me­la­nia Trump, the can­di­date’s wife, be­ing ac­cused of pla­gia­rism for lift­ing part of her speech from one given by Michelle Obama in 2008.

The lack of A-list speak­ers, and up-and-com­ing Repub­li­cans has also been a draw­back, es­pe­cially af­ter Trump promised a lineup of all-stars and win­ners, in­clud­ing Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady, who de­clined the in­vi­ta­tion.

Heath Brown, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at CUNY City Univer­sity of New York Grad Cen­ter and John Jay Col­lege, said the lack of A-lis­ters isn’t un­usual for a GOP event, but the lack of ris­ing and es­tab­lished Repub­li­can stars is a glar­ing omission.

“You don’t have any­one from the most sig­nif­i­cant Repub­li­can group over the last gen­er­a­tion,” he said. “No­body from the Bush fam­ily is there; in ad­di­tion, you don’t have any­one from the Rom­ney group as well, so I think that’s what’s re­ally re­mark­able.”

“I do sense that there is a bit of breath-hold­ing at the con­ven­tion,” Brown added.

Brown said in or­der for Trump to bring the RNC to a crescendo, he’ll have to rely on tips from Ron­ald Rea­gan’s 1980 ac­cep­tance of the nom­i­na­tion.

“The first thing [Rea­gan] did in 1980 was he spoke with a level of speci­ficity about his agenda and Trump re­ally hasn’t done that be­fore,” Brown said. “I sus­pect he’s go­ing to try to speak as Ron­ald Rea­gan did in 1980 be­yond the diehard back­ers of his party and his can­di­dacy to those who might not be in­formed about what Trump is all about or might not be pay­ing as much at­ten­tion and they need to be con­vinced in a slightly dif­fer­ent way.”

“The first two days have been sort of a num­ber of in­ci­dents that I think have stepped on what I’m sure Trump would have wanted to be a much cleaner and stronger mes­sage about his can­di­dacy.” Egan

GETTY IMAGES

Don­ald Trump ar­rives in Cleveland. GETTY IMAGES

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