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Trump blames GOP as Dems top RNC ratings

The Hill logo The Hill 7/29/2016 Ben Kamisar
Trump blames GOP as Dems top RNC ratings © Provided by The Hill Trump blames GOP as Dems top RNC ratings

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump distanced himself from the planning of last week's Republican National Convention after the Democrats' event, which ended Thursday, posted higher television ratings.

"I didn't produce the show - I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday," the Republican presidential nominee told The New York Times when asked about the differences between the two parties' conventions.

Neilson ratings data obtained by the Los Angeles Times found that Democrats edged out Republicans during each of the first three nights of the convention. Ratings for Thursday night have not been released, so it is not yet possible to compare ratings for Trump's and Democrat Hillary Clinton's acceptance speeches.

Many had assumed that Trump's television experience would lend itself to bringing more flair to the convention in Cleveland - Trump told The Washington Post in April that he wanted to add "showbiz" touches to the typically drab event.

But while Trump had Scott Baio from "Happy Days" and a video narrated by John Voight, Democrats marched out a panoply of celebrities including Meryl Streep and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, as well as a video narrated by Morgan Freeman.

Media commentators reviewed the Democratic National Convention as more tightly scripted than the GOP's - its keynote speakers were the last to speak, ensuring media attention surrounding them, and the program included speeches by the party's biggest names.

At the Republican convention, the party had to work around decisions by top leaders - including 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush - to skip the convention all together. And the schedule at times put key speakers such as Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) after the keynotes and outside of primetime.

Trump also brushed aside his decision to appear on Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor" during a convention speech by the mother of an American diplomat killed in the 2012 Benghazi attacks, arguing to The New York Times that it didn't hurt viewership because "nobody even knew" he was planning to call into the show.

Both conventions had moments that deviated well off script: for the Republicans, the Melania Trump plagiarism scandal and Sen. Ted Cruz's decision not to endorse took control of the narrative, while for Democrats, the protests from Bernie Sanders supporters who refused to jump on board with Clinton threatened the party's push to display unity.

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