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GOP Delegates Prepare To Seal The Deal For Donald Trump

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

After a dramatic primary season, the Republican Party is expected to formally nominate Donald Trump tonight as its candidate for the White House. The official business of the evening includes a roll call vote of delegates, and Trump is expected to hit the magic number of 1,237 just over two and a half hours from now.

NPR's Scott Horsley is on the convention floor at the Quicken Loans Arena, and he joins us now. And Scott, tell us what we expect of this formal nominating process.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Robert, we expect that Jeff Sessions, the senator from Alabama, will give the nominating speech for Donald Trump, and then that'll be seconded by Henry McMaster, the lieutenant governor of South Carolina, and Chris Collins of New York, the congressman.

All three of these men were early supporters of Donald Trump. McMaster was considered a key to his big primary win in South Carolina. Collins was the first House member to endorse Trump and of course is from his home state. And Sessions is one of the most prominent Republicans in Congress backing Trump, and he remains a key adviser to the campaign.

Once those speeches are over, the counting will begin. And because the delegates here are bound by the results of the state primaries and caucuses, we fully expect Trump will reach the majority he needs to be the nominee.

SIEGEL: Now, Scott, yesterday we saw and heard some vocal agitation from anti-Trump forces. Will the roll call be another opportunity for them to make some noise?

HORSLEY: It certainly could be, Robert. There were at least half a dozen states here that were pushing a move to change the rules and free the delegates, and some of those states will come up early in the roll call because it's going to proceed mostly alphabetically. So Colorado, for example, will be up early and could voice its displeasure with Trump as the nominee.

That alphabetical roll call will continue through Pennsylvania, skipping over New York, and then the New York delegation will be called on. Trump of course won handily in his home state, taking 89 of New York's 95 delegates. So we expect Trump's son Donald Jr. will announce the New York tally, and those 89 New York delegates will put him over the top.

HORSLEY: And at that point we expect all the pundits who wrote off Trump's campaign will have to start eating crow.

HORSLEY: (Laughter) The crows are in the oven as we speak. The sauce is being prepared. Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, did some crowing himself this morning. He he kind of reflected back on this unlikely outsider campaign that began more than a year ago and, you know, was written off by a lot of people on the very first day of Trump's announcement when he gave that rambling and controversial speech.

But then he just kept winning, and so here we are. Manafort said all those who doubted that Trump could be nominated - they'll no longer be able to say, yes, but maybe it won't happen because it will have happened.

SIEGEL: Now, all this will happen in the relatively early part of the evening session, but then it's on to prime time. So what happens after Donald Trump has been formally nominated by the convention?

HORSLEY: That's right. We expect him to go over the top right around 7:45 Eastern Time or so. And then when the family viewing hour starts, the theme of the convention will be make America work again. If last night was all about security at home and abroad, tonight it'll be more about pocketbook issues.

We will be hearing from some prominent Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan will be onstage tonight along with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Donald Trump himself is expected to introduce Senator McConnell by remote from New York City. And then we'll hear from a couple of Trump's erstwhile primary opponents. Chris Christie and Ben Carson will be onstage as well.

And as we heard last night, there will be complaints about the way the Obama administration has managed the economy, an effort to tar Hillary Clinton with that record and expressions of what a strong leader on the economy Donald Trump would be.

SIEGEL: OK, thanks Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: That's NPR correspondent Scott Horsley talking to us from the convention floor. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.