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Republicans have a task for Trump: Make America like you

Outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio,

Outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday, July 17, 2016, the day before the Republican National Convention begins there Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

Can Trump be likable enough?

With polls showing voters in the presidential race driven less by enthusiasm for their candidate than loathing for the other, Donald Trump’s handlers have one overriding aim for the four days of the Republican national convention.

“Becoming likable will make him unstoppable,” Republican national chairman Reince Priebus told The Washington Post.

Doing that, Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” requires “watching your mouth” — something “I think he’s done much better at” since a few months ago.

The convention offers Trump his biggest chance to try to persuade voters that he has real answers beyond the bluster, starting with the issues of national security, defense and safety on Monday’s opening night. See the story by Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

Five things to watch for

Newsday’s Michael Gormley details five goals that Trump and running mate Mike Pence must achieve at the convention to unite the party, reach independents and Democrats, and improve his chances against Hillary Clinton in November.

It’s tense out there

The Baton Rouge police shootings added to already heightened anxieties about the potential for violence in Cleveland.

Cleveland’s police union appealed Sunday to Ohio Gov. John Kasich to declare a state of emergency and restrict open-carry gun rights during the convention. Kasich said he didn’t have the power to do so.

A statement from Clinton called the attack on police officers an “assault on all of us.” Trump tweeted, “We demand law and order.”

A new CNN/ORC poll found that by 61% to 31%, registered voters believed Clinton was better suited to handle race relations.

Clinton ahead in three polls

Three new polls Sunday had Clinton ahead, but not by a lot. She was up 7 points in the CNN/ORC survey, 5 points in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal voter snapshot, and 4 points in the ABC News/Washington Post poll.

The take-away: Giuliani’s pivot

When former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at the convention, he will hail a candidate who nastily condemns the three men who preceded him as the GOP nominee.

All three — George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney — had won Giuliani’s praise during their presidential runs, Newsday’s Dan Janison writes.

War and Pence

Trump, who has excoriated Clinton for voting in favor of the Iraq War, was asked on CBS’ “60 Minutes” about Pence’s vote as a congressman for the Iraq War. “He’s entitled to make a mistake every once in a while,” Trump replied.

And former Sen. Clinton?

“She’s not,” Trump said.

Empty chairs, 2016 version

Priebus acknowledged in Sunday interviews that the intraparty damage done during the primary battles and the run-up to the convention have yet to be undone. “There are more bruises than we usually are accustomed to,” he said.

It’s one reason for the long roster of convention no-shows among prominent Republicans, write Newsday’s Michael Gormley and Emily Ngo.

Heritage foundations

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) goaded Trump into another Twitter fight.

She went after Trump and Pence as “two small, insecure, weak men who use hate & fear to divide our country & our people.” Trump responded that if she “didn’t lie about her heritage [being Native American] she would be nothing today.”

She denies any deception. Trump, in contrast, has acknowledged that he and his real estate developer dad Fred pretended to be of Swedish ancestry instead of German for fear of losing business from Jews for decades after World War II.

Day 1: What to see Monday

The headliner is Trump’s wife, Melania. Also set to speak in prime time Monday night are Giuliani and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The night’s theme is “Make America Safe Again.”

Click here for a full speakers list.

What else is happening

  • Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Nassau GOP Chairman Joseph Mondello and Suffolk GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle will be among the 27 delegates and alternates from Long Island at the convention, reports Newsday’s David M. Schwartz.
  • On “60 Minutes,” Trump said he doesn’t expect Pence, who professes an aversion to negative campaigning, to echo him by calling Clinton “Crooked Hillary.” “He’s not that kind of a person,” Trump said.
  • Trump said he is now willing to put troops on the ground in the Middle East — “very few” — for the war against the Islamic State group.
  • Trump is not the steady, decisive manager depicted in “The Apprentice,” according to a Politico Magazine story. And when it’s time to tell someone “you’re fired,” he prefers to delegate.
  • Fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is still giving Trump advice, to the irritation of his current top staff, New York Magazine says.
  • Clinton’s plan to allow most Americans to attend public universities at no cost could have the unintended effect of encouraging tuition increases, according to a New York Times analysis.
  • Newt Gingrich, who didn’t make the final cut to be Trump’s vice presidential choice, said he’s open to serving in his Cabinet.

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