After promising a “showbiz” Republican National Convention that would dazzle the American public, Donald Trump shrugged off responsibility for staging it after seeing the higher ratings and production values the Democrats’ convention had to offer this week in Philadelphia.
“I didn’t produce our show — I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday,” Trump told The New York Times in a phone call this week.
Trump actually broke with tradition by making multiple appearances during the Cleveland convention, coming on stage to introduce his wife Melania on the convention’s opening night and appearing onstage with running mate Mike Pence, who followed Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) non-endorsement speech on the convention’s third night.
He also dialed into Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show while a mother who lost her son in the Benghazi terrorist attacks described her experience on the RNC stage.
The real estate mogul acknowledged these other unannounced appearances but told the Times they didn’t distract from the convention programming because “nobody even knew” he would be making them.
His claim that he had no hand in the convention programming was also eyebrow-raising, given that campaigns typically dictate the speaker roster and many of the RNC speakers had direct ties to Trump. Among those were five members of the Trump family, the manager of Trump Winery and ‘80s sitcom star Scott Baio, who said Trump personally invited him to speak at a campaign fundraiser.
The DNC earned applause from media observers for tightly hewing to schedule and drawing big names including Meryl Streep, Paul Simon, Katy Perry and President Barack Obama.
The Democratic convention outpaced the RNC’s ratings on multiple nights, according to Nielsen.