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Donald Trump Needs to Deliver a Miracle Convention Speech

July 21, 2016, 4:15 PM UTC
Republican National Convention: Day Three
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stands with Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and acknowledge the crowd on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla — Getty Images

If the Republican National Convention were to end right now, the story about the state of the GOP would be exactly the opposite of what the Donald Trump campaign and the Republican Party wanted it to be: disunity, disorganization, and disillusionment. At this late stage, only Donald Trump himself can turn this around, and he has his chance Thursday.

Trump has appeared either in person or via video on all three nights of the convention, but at the end of Thursday night’s activities he’ll give his acceptance speech, and with it he can erase the negative narrative that has dominated the first three days of the RNC. If he gives a barnburner of a speech, the media and the voters will forget about the ugly scene of Ted Cruz being booed off the stage. They’ll forget about the strange selection of prime-time speakers such as Michelle Van Etten, who made the unfortunate choice of calling Trump “the ultimate ringmaster.” They may even forget about the plagiarism scandal that surrounded Melania Trump’s Monday night address.

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All of this is dependent on the question that has plagued the Trump campaign from the beginning — which Trump will show up? Will it be the serious businessman who can actually give a decent speech and focus his attention on the general election ahead? Or will it be Trump the carnival barker, going off script and focusing on petty grievances, as conservative news site Daily Wire says he did in setting up Cruz to be booed on Wednesday?

If Trump ignores the past and focuses on his plan for the country and what makes it better than Hillary Clinton’s, he could go a long way toward repairing the rifts in his party and setting himself up to compete in the general election. If he gives in to base tendencies, though, it could be just another embarrassment in a week that has been full of them.