What is the point of the US presidential conventions?

Hilary Clinton (Newshub graphic)
Hilary Clinton (Newshub graphic)

You've seen it time and time again - Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump talking trash like there's no tomorrow.

It's only going to get even worse over the next few weeks as the presidential conventions kick off.

So what is a nominating convention and why do we care?

It's when a political party meets to pick the candidate it wants to become President of the United States.

Lasting about four days each, the Republicans are holding theirs in Cleveland and the Democrats in Philadelphia.

After big, bloated speeches from the party hierarchy, attendees - known as delegates - usually pick the candidate everyone knew they would.

Sound boring?

Well, you'll be happy to know these things can actually be pretty interesting.

The 1968 Democratic Convention will be remembered as the "Nightmare in Chicago", with mass protests and violence on the streets following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

It was chaos, with police beating protestors.

But sometimes it's what doesn't happen that lives forever, like in 2004 when the Democratic Convention producer was caught on live television panicking when a massive balloon drop didn't go to plan.

However, that was the same convention when Barack Obama - then an unknown state senator - made a speech about his African-American heritage, which was dubbed "the address that made a President".

"This country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness, a brighter day will come," he famously said.

What is the point of the US presidential conventions?


There's no question Mr Trump will make this year's Republican convention memorable.

Many of the party elite aren't going, with former Republican presidents and nominees - including George HW Bush, George W Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney - all shutting the door on Mr Trump.

It won't be easy for Ms Clinton, either.

She's got to win over angry Bernie Sanders supporters and convince voters her email botch-up is behind her.

So grab a ringside seat as we head into the late rounds of the presidential slugfest.