CHARLOTTE, N.C. (NewsNation) — The Republican Party formally nominated President Donald Trump for a second term in the White House Monday, one of the first acts of a scaled-down GOP convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Instead of the thousands of people who were expected to converge on the city for a weeklong extravaganza, just 336 delegates participated in a roll-call vote in a ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center. Trump traveled to the city on Monday and delivered a speech after receiving the official nomination.
“This is the most important election in the history of our country,” Trump said during the unscheduled appearance. “Our country can go in a horrible direction or in an even greater direction,” he said.
Earlier, the convention renominated Vice President Mike Pence, and he thanked the delegates in person.
“The choice in this election has never been clearer and the stakes have never been higher,” Pence said. “We’re going to make American great again. Again.”
Last week, the Democrats created a roll call via video montage from states across the country.
For both sides, it’s an unconventional convention year.
“We are obviously disappointed we could not hold this event in the same way we had originally planned,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said as she began the proceedings.
The parties’ election-year gatherings are typically massive events, drawing thousands of delegates, party leaders, donors, journalists and political junkies for a week of speeches, parties and after-parties that inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy and deliver a multiday infomercial for the nominee.
But the coronavirus has changed all that. Just 336 delegates — six from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — have been invited to cast proxy votes on behalf of the more than 2,500 regular delegates. Safety measures have been put in place guided by a 42-page health and safety plan developed by a hired doctor.
Attendees were asked to practice enhanced social distancing and get tested prior to travel, fill out a pre-travel health questionnaire and participate in a daily symptom tracker. They’re also being tested onsite and receiving daily health screenings, have been asked to maintain a 6-foot distance from other people and to use face coverings as a condition of participation. The RNC has also committed to contacting every participant five, 14 and 21 days after the event to check on potential symptoms.
After the Charlotte kickoff, most of the GOP convention will take place in Washington, D.C., at and around the White House, as well as by video.
First lady Melania Trump will speak Tuesday from the Rose Garden, Vice President Mike Pence will appear from Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Wednesday, and Trump will deliver his marquee acceptance speech on Thursday from the South Lawn before a crowd of supporters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.