Republicans look to use convention as election test bed

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are aiming to use this week’s national convention as a test bed for their efforts to reelect President Donald Trump, just weeks before the start of early voting.

The Republican National Committee plans to hold more than 7,500 events across the country — the majority of them in person — as part of a “dry run” of their get-out-the-vote efforts. The party is putting its hope in its 2,000 field staffers and 1.9 million volunteers as it seeks to help Trump recover from a coronavirus-induced polling slump and edge out Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Nov. 3.

“This is a great opportunity to activate and energize our volunteers and our base,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. The GOP, she said, knocked on more than 1 million doors during last week’s Democratic convention, and aims to do even more during the Republican convention.

McDaniel is set to play a prominent role during the convention, including delivering remarks Monday night and leading a Wednesday celebration of the centennial of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the vote.

The field events this week include volunteer training, as the GOP looks to surpass the 2.2 million volunteers that helped reelect President Barack Obama in 2012, and “MAGA-meetup watch parties,” in which supporters will gather to watch the convention proceedings. Gatherings are planned in all 50 states for Thursday night, when Trump is set to deliver his acceptance speech from the South Lawn of the White House.

“We’re knocking on a million doors a week and the Democrats aren’t knocking on any,” said RNC chief of staff Richard Walters. Republicans, like Democrats, moved to virtual get-out-the-vote efforts earlier this year because of the pandemic, but the GOP steadily resumed in-person activities while Democrats largely held off.

McDaniel said the GOP’s field efforts will be even more vital this year, as more voters embrace absentee and mail balloting because of the coronavirus. “This is a year where this ground game is going to be critical as we’re going to be pushing people to return their ballots,” McDaniel said.

Trump has railed against expanded mail voting, though Republicans are planning to make the most of it for his own voters.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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