Second Veteran of '96 Convention Joins Trump Team

Second Veteran of '96 Convention Joins Trump Team
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The band is getting back together from the 1996 Republican National Convention to steer this year’s main event in Cleveland.

Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who ran the ’96 convention for Bob Dole’s campaign, has hired Bill Greener, who was the GOP’s convention manager that year, according to two sources familiar with the personnel move.

Greener starts work in his new role Thursday in Cleveland. A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

For the 1996 convention, Manafort and Greener took cues from television infomercials to direct a fast-paced, entertaining program that reimagined the political convention format and irked many reporters, who felt the tight control eliminated any news value.

This year’s convention, set for July 18-21, will likely be a direct descendant of this tradition, in part because Manafort and Greener are at the helm once again. The star of the show, of course, has his own roots in reality television and show business — and Trump has promised a star-studded event that will eschew dry politics.

In one plan under consideration, Trump would appear live via satellite each night from rallies across the country, before arriving in Cleveland to speak from the convention hall on the final night. Trump’s three adult children, who have emerged as influential advisers in his campaign, will likely each have a designated night to speak as well. Overall, the program sketch so far is said to emphasize video over live speakers in Cleveland, which would mark a departure from past conventions.

At a recent rally in Dallas, Trump suggested the convention program could incorporate a “winners night,” highlighting some of the prominent figures from sports and entertainment who have endorsed him, such as NASCAR’s Richard Petty and former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight. Trump speculated that it would “probably be the best-attended night of the whole deal.”

With less than one month until the convention commences, however, there are roadblocks yet to surmount. Knight, for one, has not yet been asked to speak at the convention, nor does he have any interest in doing so, according to a source close to the former coach.  

This is where Manafort and now, Greener, will come in, hoping to stitch together a made-for-TV program on a short timetable. But it is not their first rodeo.

Rebecca Berg is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at rberg@realclearpolitics.com.

 

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