Donald Trump's botched rollout of his vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence followed by an, at times, awkward interview the two men did with "60 Minutes" this past Sunday doesn't have the 2016 Republican ticket off to a great start.
But, by Thursday night, if Trump delivers a great and rousing speech, the Republican faithful won't be talking about the vice presidential rollout. They'll be focused on winning in November. Here's what Donald Trump needs to do (with a little luck) to have a successful convention:
1. Give a great speech. A really great speech. Trump has given a few well-received teleprompter speeches since accepting the GOP nomination, but this one is different. He needs a great delivery, beautiful prose, and a healthy mix of policy innovation. Donald Trump needs to put some definition around the policy ideas he's shared to date and he would benefit by being hopeful and uplifting. Trump has often tapped into voters' understandable anger, but up until now, he's failed to give people looking for a positive message a reason to rally behind him. This is his best opportunity of the general election campaign to change his image.
2. Manage the renegades. There's been much discussion about delegates trying to dump Trump by altering the party's rules. The Trump campaign effectively warded off a challenge in the Republican party's rules committee, so now they simply need to make sure no protest or other embarrassing motions are offered on the floor. While his nomination isn't in question, he still needs a strong floor whip operation to ensure a minor action on the floor doesn't turn into an over-focused press story.
3. Hope for peaceful protests. What happens outside the Quickens Loan Arena may matter as much as Donald Trump's speech. And, in this regard, the candidate has virtually no control over what occurs. Trump needs to rely on what appears to be a very well organized Cleveland police department. In fact, I'm in Cleveland now and this place feels like a Green Zone, so it's probable that the intense coverage on how dangerous this event could be is overblown. However, if the expected protests turned violent and cops and citizens start shooting at each other, that would not only be terrible, it would dominate media coverage. And, this would not be the coverage team Trump wants coming out of their convention.