Gone, too, were most of the policy ideas that an earlier generation of Republicans counted on to help bring racial diversity to their largely monochrome coalition. Mr. Trump has put forward no particular agenda on education, housing or economic inequality. His signature priority on health care remains the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, but he has never proposed a full alternative. He discarded the party’s Bush-era theory of winning Hispanic votes through immigration reform and replaced it with an agenda — unchallenged within the party — of cracking down on the southern border and throwing up new obstacles even to legal immigration.
Mr. Trump himself has made appearances every night of the convention, making extensive use of his presidential powers and the grounds of the White House for partisan purposes. But his remarks would be the first time this week that the party heard from the president in an extended speech.
The program on Thursday night included an early appearance by the president’s top ally in Congress, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy, one of the more traditional party leaders to speak, did so as the narrator of a cinematic video filled with stock footage of conventionally patriotic scenes, holding up Mr. Trump as the guarantor of the American way of life.
“No one has done more to protect and advance it than President Trump,” Mr. McCarthy said. “As Republicans, we are proud to stand with him, and to work for you.”
In a speech that would not have been out of place at a Republican convention a decade or two ago, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, praised Mr. Trump but spent most of his time warning of Democrats’ liberal aspirations, sometimes casting them in outlandish-sounding terms.
The opposing party, Mr. McConnell said, wants to “pack the Supreme Court with liberals intent on eroding our constitutional rights,” admit Washington, D.C., as the 51st state and regulate “even how many hamburgers you can eat.” While he called for voters to support Mr. Trump, he also asked them to back Republican candidates running for the Senate, in a departure from the convention’s almost exclusive focus on the president. “We are the firewall against Nancy Pelosi’s agenda,” Mr. McConnell said of Republicans in the Senate.