A hurricane pounding the Gulf Coast. Another American city lashed by uprisings after the police shooting of a Black man. President Trump has been waiting a long time for tonight — accepting the Republican nomination for a second term as president — but he finds himself competing for attention with the kinds of events that have become too familiar to Americans in recent years.
The question is if — or rather how — Mr. Trump will take these unsettling moments into account when he steps outside the White House to deliver his remarks.
His vice president, Mike Pence, offered a road map of how to deal with Hurricane Laura in his acceptance speech. He offered prayers for residents in harm’s way and promised that the federal government would help the people of Louisiana recover from any destruction wrought by a storm with winds of up to 150 miles per hour.
The situation in Kenosha, Wis., which began after Jacob Blake, was left paralyzed after being shot by the police in front of his children, is far more fraught. Wisconsin is not only a swing state; many analysts say that Joseph R. Biden Jr., the president’s Democratic challenger, cannot win in November without taking it back from Mr. Trump. Some polls show him with a lead.
It is far from clear how it will play out in the campaign. On one hand, the events — the protest against the police shooting, buildings set on fire, tear gas fired into crowds and Mr. Trump pledging to send in the National Guard — seem to play directly into Republican attacks that Democratic rule would lead to unrest and crime in American cities.
But after the worst violence during the protests, a white teenager who confronted protesters was arrested in the fatal shootings of two people. His social media posts suggest he is a strong supporter of Mr. Trump and law enforcement.
Despite the tense state of affairs in Wisconsin and questions about the teenager’s political affiliations, Mr. Pence made clear the Trump campaign would not shy away from using the events in Wisconsin to try to make law-and-order attacks on the Democratic ticket.
“Let me be clear: The violence must stop — whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha,” he said. “Too many heroes have died defending our freedoms to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of America.”
The America that many speakers described on Wednesday at the Republican National Convention did not sound like a desirable place: fractious, violent, functionally lawless in some pockets.
But their case that only President Trump could shield Americans from this fate was complicated by a nettlesome fact: He is in charge, at present — at the controls of government through the purportedly real-time conditions these supporters outlined. And they would all like to keep him there.
“America,” Vice President Mike Pence told a Republican convention crowd sternly from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, “needs four more years of President Donald Trump.”
The third night of the Republican convention steered into a bit of messaging jujitsu that has become a dominant theme of the week: Mr. Trump’s capacity to cure the ills that have visited America on his watch but have, in this telling, been largely out of his hands to date.
And so Mr. Trump, the argument has gone, can be relied upon now to shield Americans abandoned amid the threats they see all around them, in the nation he leads.
“People that can afford to flee have fled,” Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota said of cities like Portland, Ore., and New York. “But the people that can’t — good, hard-working Americans — are left to fend for themselves.”
Mr. Pence was more explicit in establishing a contrast with the Democratic nominee: “You won’t be safe,” he said, “in Joe Biden’s America.”
Even as president, Mr. Trump has often appeared most comfortable in the role of back-seat driver, jeering his own government like a common bystander, insisting that someone really ought to do something about all this. (“When he has an opinion,” Mr. Pence said, “he is liable to share it.”)
In contrast to the Democratic Convention, where three former presidents and the party’s 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, made the case for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Republican convention has been devoid of such standard bearers this week for President Trump.
Now dozens of former staff members of the G.O.P.’s previous two presidential nominees — Senator John McCain and Senator Mitt Romney of Utah — have endorsed Mr. Biden.
Both have been targets of Mr. Trump — Mr. McCain, who died in 2018, for his role in helping to preserve the Affordable Care Act, and Mr. Romney for voting his year in support of one of the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump.
The cross-aisle alliance between Mr. McCain and Mr. Biden, one a conservative war hero from Arizona and the other an Irish Catholic senator from Delaware, has been pointed to by Mr. Biden’s supporters as an example of Mr. Biden’s bipartisan spirit.
The group of more than 100 former McCain staffers hope that their endorsement amplifies Mr. McCain’s “Country First” credo. That motto and “his frequent call on Americans to serve causes greater than our self-interest were not empty slogans like so much of our politics today,” the group of aides, most of them still Republicans, wrote in a joint statement, praising Mr. McCain and implicitly taking aim at President Trump. “They were the creed by which he lived, and he urged us to do the same.”
Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s longtime chief aide and speechwriter, helped organize the letter.
“We have different views of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party platform — most of us will disagree with a fair amount of it — but we all agree that getting Donald Trump out of office is clearly in the national interest,” Mr. Salter said.
The list of signers includes a range of people — from chiefs of staff in Mr. McCain’s Senate office to junior aides on his campaigns — who worked for him over his 35 years in Congress and during two presidential bids.
Over 30 of Mr. Romney’s former staff members signed a statement repudiating Mr. Trump, which was posted online.
“What unites us now is a deep conviction that four more years of a Trump presidency will morally bankrupt this country, irreparably damage our democracy, and permanently transform the Republican Party into a toxic personality cult,” they wrote. “We can’t sit by and allow that to happen.”
It is President Trump’s clearest path to re-election: winning back the suburbs in a handful of swing states that drifted from the Republican Party in the 2018 midterms. And that imperative has been vividly apparent each night of the party’s national convention, with speakers and videos trying to recast Mr. Trump’s divisive record, which hurt Republicans two years ago.
There have been glowing tributes from women, scenes of friendly banter between Mr. Trump and immigrants and a Black family, and stories from people he reached out to in their times of despair.
The approach amounts to an acknowledgment by the president’s campaign that appealing to his right-wing base will not be enough to win re-election, and that voters who have soured on him after three and a half years are not responding to a strategy that leans heavily into attacking his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and other Democrats as radicals and extremists.
Trump advisers said on Wednesday that they did not intend to change people’s minds about the president. Voter opinions about him have been remarkably impervious to the good and bad news about him, fluctuating little since he took office. Rather, the aides said, they were seeking to remind suburban voters of policies Mr. Trump has supported — like granting citizenship for legal immigrants and softening harsh criminal statutes — that will give them something to hang on to in the voting booth in November.
In 2016, exit polls showed Mr. Trump winning suburban areas 49 percent to 45 percent, helping to offset his deep deficit among city voters. By the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats had caught up: Each party captured 49 percent of votes cast in the suburbs in House races that year, according to exit polls.
Now, Mr. Trump’s job approval is worse among suburbanites than even among city dwellers. Sixty-one percent of suburban voters disapproved of his job performance while just 38 percent approved, according to a Fox News poll this month. Among suburban women in particular, Mr. Trump’s net approval rating was only 34 percent.
ST. IGNACE, Mich. — Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is known for many things: its enviable location, nestled among three of the five Great Lakes — Huron, Superior and Michigan; hundreds of waterfalls and vast expanses of lush forests; and the pasty, a dough pocket filled with meat, potatoes and vegetables that served as a portable meal for copper and iron miners.
Politically, the U.P. is known for something else: It’s the heart of Trump country in a state that helped propel Mr. Trump to the presidency in 2016, and it’s one of the key battlegrounds in 2020. Just how solid his support remains and whether Democrats can make inroads in his rural strongholds could help determine whether Mr. Trump can win Michigan again.
Without the Upper Peninsula, Mr. Trump would have lost Michigan in 2016: He beat Hillary Clinton by nearly 27,000 votes in the region. In the rest of the state, she beat him by more than 16,000 votes.
But while the Upper Peninsula may have been solid Trump country four years ago and will probably go for him in 2020, some people in the area think the margins won’t be as large.
For starters, the state has trended back toward the Democrats since 2016. Gretchen Whitmer easily won the governor’s race in 2018, by nearly 10 points. She shrunk the margins in the Upper Peninsula considerably, losing the region by 7,073 votes.
And people cite a lack of progress on issues affecting the Great Lakes, climate change, the effect of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies on the labor supply for small farmers and, in particular, the failures in combating the pandemic as reasons at least some 2016 Trump voters will not be supporting him this year.
Rod Nelson, 65, a lifelong Republican and the retired C.E.O. of the Mackinac Straits Health System, said he’s been “astonished” at the lack of leadership in handling the crisis from Mr. Trump, a man he voted for in 2016, but won’t again in 2020.
On one of the most consequential nights in recent sports history — when a player-led boycott forced the N.B.A. to postpone playoff games — the Republican National Convention offered pro-Trump testimonials from a retired Notre Dame coach and a former N.F.L. player facing insider-trading charges.
“It is a pleasure, a blessing and an honor for me to explain why I believe that President Trump is a consistent winner,” said Lou Holtz, 83, who coached college and pro football teams during a successful four-decade career.
“I am here as a servant to God, a servant to the people of our nation and a servant to our president,” said the former Minnesota Vikings safety Jack Brewer, 41.
Mr. Trump has plenty of support among athletes, especially white ones, across a range of sports. And he has hobnobbed with many Black sports figures, most from previous generations, like Mike Tyson, Herschel Walker and Jim Brown. Some, like Mr. Walker, have appeared at the Republican National Convention and delivered a message that the party wants to project — that the president is not racist.
But many in the current generation of Black athletes in the N.B.A. and other leagues have added their voices to a broader call for social justice
And the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black father who was partly paralyzed after a white officer fired seven shots into his back on Sunday in Kenosha, Wis., has revived the sense of urgency stirred by the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in May.
In one of the most striking moments of the second night of the Republican convention on Tuesday — both for its content and for its blatant disregard for the traditional separation between governing and politicking — President Trump held a naturalization ceremony for five immigrants.
It was an effort by Mr. Trump’s campaign to cast him as pro-immigrant after three and a half years of anti-immigrant policies. But at least two of the five new citizens were not told the ceremony was being broadcast at the convention.
The decision by Mr. Trump’s campaign to feature the ceremony angered some senior officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Some asylum officers confronted senior agency officials during a virtual town hall on Wednesday about whether Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, had violated rules prohibiting political activity by presiding over the ceremony.
“It’s one of the things that shouldn’t be politicized, and you can hardly get more political than your partisan political convention,” said Barbara Strack, a former chief of the refugee affairs division at Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Bush and Obama administrations.
Four years ago, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas delivered the most stunning speech of the Republican National Convention, conspicuously declining to endorse Donald J. Trump, his former presidential primary rival, and urging viewers instead to “vote your conscience.”
This time, well.
“They didn’t ask me to participate,” Mr. Cruz said in a phone interview from his home in Houston. “So, I’m not on the speakers’ roster.”
Amid the whiplashing loyalties and perpetual game theory of Trump-era Republicanism, Mr. Cruz is at once a singular figure — former antagonist, wannabe successor, current ally generally (convention lineups notwithstanding) — and perhaps the most striking exemplar of a certain kind of 2020 party leader.
He would like to be there for whatever comes after Mr. Trump, openly aspiring to run for president again if the opportunity presents itself. And like most of his Republican peers, he is not quite sure what will be there on the other side.
Mr. Cruz’s bet, as in his runner-up finish in the 2016 primary, is that ideological conservatism will eventually win the day, despite the manifest indifference many Trump supporters have shown toward some traditional stated priorities of the right, like controlling deficits.
Asked in the interview to make a convention-style case for Mr. Trump’s re-election on the spot, Mr. Cruz cited the “remarkable policy successes” of the last four years, paused for 12 seconds, then set off on an auditorium-ready, fully-composed celebration of tax cuts, deregulation and the “historic economic boom” that preceded the coronavirus.
Asked if Mr. Trump was making this argument effectively, the senator ruled: “Sometimes.” (Mr. Cruz made clear that he “would have been happy to” step to a microphone this week, if he had been invited.)
After eight intense nights of programming, the 2020 conventions will come to an end on Thursday: President Trump will formally accept the Republican nomination, and the general election season will officially begin.
Here’s how to watch and who is expected to speak on the last night of the Republican National Convention.
How to watch:
The speeches will run from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Eastern time.
The Times will stream the convention, accompanied by chat-based live analysis from our reporters and real-time highlights from the speeches.
ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News will cover the convention from 10 to 11 p.m.; CNN from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.; MSNBC from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.; PBS from 8 to 11 p.m.; and C-SPAN at 8:30 p.m.
President Trump will formally accept renomination and deliver his convention speech at the end of the night. The other speakers include:
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, an outspoken military and foreign policy hawk who is seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2024.
Ann Dorn, the widow of David Dorn, a retired police captain who was killed by someone looting a store during protests in St. Louis.
Debbie Flood, president of an architectural hardware and castings manufacturer in Wisconsin.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who, as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, was deeply involved in the conduct that led to the president’s impeachment.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, one of Mr. Trump’s most prominent evangelical supporters and the son of the Rev. Billy Graham.
Alice Johnson, whose life sentence for a nonviolent drug conviction was commuted by Mr. Trump after Kim Kardashian West drew attention to it.
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate majority leader.
Carl and Marsha Mueller, the parents of Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian worker who was kidnapped and killed by Islamic State militants.
Ja’Ron Smith, a deputy assistant to the president. He is the highest-ranking Black official in the White House.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s oldest daughter and a senior White House adviser.
Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who was elected to Congress in 2018 as a Democrat but, a year later, switched parties and pledged “undying support” to Mr. Trump.
Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.