Trump’s Onetime Rivals Resurface For RNC’s ‘Make America First Again’ Night

AP

Some of Donald Trump’s fiercest critics and onetime opponents in the 2016 GOP race will take the stage Wednesday at the Republican National Convention for “Make America First Again” night.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are among the names on what appears to be the most traditional speaker lineup the convention has offered up thus far. Walker and Rubio have offered only tepid endorsements of Trump, saying they will support him as the nominee. Cruz, who once called Trump an “utterly amoral” “pathological liar,” has yet to even say that he will vote for the now-confirmed GOP nominee, however.

Other speakers for the evening, which is devoted to American exceptionalism, include conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, retired astronaut Eileen Collins, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and pastor Darrell Scott.

The true star of the evening will be Trump’s newly-minted vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), who will have the prime speaking slot. Learn more about Pence and the other headline speakers below.

Lynne Patton (left)

Patton serves as Vice President of the Eric Trump Foundation, which raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is also the senior assistant to the three eldest Trump children: Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr. Since leaving her position as a senior paralegal at a Manhattan law firm to join the Trump Organization in 2009, Patton has become a central figure in Trumpland. She helps oversee staff at Trump Tower, coordinates home and business responsibilities for the elder Trump children, and played a key role in casting the 2012 and 2014 seasons of “The Celebrity Apprentice.” She has, according to her Twitter profile, “the best job in the world.”

As a black woman, Patton has been key to batting away accusations that the Trump campaign has espoused racist and misogynist attitudes. She released a video in May titled “The Trump Family That I Know,” in which she insisted that Donald Trump and his children had worked to elevate the careers of minority women like her. At the RNC, Patton tweeted photos of her with Ben Carson and former “The Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault as proof that Trump had black supporters.

Eric Trump

The third child of Ivana and Donald Trump, Eric Trump serves as Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization. He is tasked with the company’s new project acquisition and construction. Like his siblings Ivanka and Donald Jr., Eric is closely intertwined with his father’s business empire. He served as a judge on “The Apprentice,” owns Trump Winery in Virginia, and has spearheaded the expansion of the Trumps’ golf properties. In June, Donald Trump was criticized for leaving the 2016 trail to visit Eric Trump’s newly renovated Turnberry golf course in Scotland, where he said that acknowledging his son’s achievement was more important than campaigning.

Eric Trump has regularly accompanied his father at campaign events and acted as an attack dog in the media on his behalf. After the Washington Post revealed that there was scant evidence that charities received the millions Donald Trump claimed to have donated to them, Eric Trump called the journalist behind the story to tell him his reporting was “disgusting.”

He has promised that his RNC speech was composed without the help of a speechwriter, insisting he wrote “every single word.”

Newt and Callista Gingrich

The former House Speaker will appear jointly with his third wife, Callista, president of Gingrich Productions. The Gingriches have been stalwart defenders of the Trump campaign in its later stages, serving as consultants, media surrogates and rally speakers.

Newt Gingrich was short-listed as a vice presidential pick for Trump, and has been a vocal spokesperson for Trump’s proposals to curtail Muslim and Central American immigration to the United States. He has lashed out at the media for what he claims is unfair treatment of the Trump campaign and earned praise from the candidate as a “warrior.”

As president of Gingrich Productions, Callista Gingrich helps produce the company’s historical documentaries, books and newsletters on subjects like God in America and Ronald Reagan’s legacy. She has also written four children’s books, including “Sweet Land of Liberty,” a picture book about American exceptionalism, and, most recently, “Christmas in America.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R)

An Indiana congressman from 2001-2013, Pence was elected governor of the Hoosier State in 2013. He is a far-right conservative who has embraced the tea party movement, voiced opposition to birthright citizenship, spearheaded the movement to defund Planned Parenthood, insisted climate change is a “myth” and fiercely opposed protections for LGBT people.

Pence initially endorsed Cruz ahead of his state’s primary, calling him a true “principled conservative” who would act on the issues he held dear. Just one week later, after Trump won Indiana and Cruz dropped out, Pence said he would “campaign hard” on Trump’s behalf. Despite core policy differences, Trump selected Pence as his running mate last week after a messy, prolonged decision process. The Indiana governor and GOP nominee have since made amends on several disagreements, with Trump forgiving Pence’s vote for the Iraq War and Pence now saying he is “very supportive” of his running mate’s proposed ban on Muslim immigrants from “terrorist” nations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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