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Republican convention 2016: What to watch Wednesday

Chris Christie speaks
Chris Christie speaks 15:21

Welcome to night three of four at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Donald Trump has dropped the "presumptive" in his title and been formally nominated as the Republican party's candidate.

Wednesday night's theme is "Make America First Again," which is a bit more vague than the themes for the first two nights (Monday was national security; Tuesday was the economy). According to the convention program, the night's speakers will largely focus on safeguarding "our position in the world," explaining how Trump would make the United States "a beacon of progress and opportunity."

But the real draw for the evening is newly minted Trump running mate Mike Pence, who will be the headline speaker and will make his first major speech as a vice presidential candidate.

Here's CBS News' guide for what to watch:

1.) Pence's big night

Wednesday night is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's night: less than a week after being named Trump's running mate, the Hoosier will get his first real entree to the national stage when he gives his primetime speech.

Pence isn't exactly known for his electrifying stage presence, so his convention speech will be a real test of the kind of surrogate he'll be for Trump. Even more important is the message he focuses on: how much does he discuss his own personal and political background, and how much does he focus on Trump's? How hard will he go after presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton?

The Indiana governor spoke to a reception for the American Conservative Union Tuesday to urge GOP unity, a message he will likely tout Wednesday. "The time has come for us to come together--primaries are over," he said. "It was a big stage up there with a lot of extraordinarily talented men and women, but I say to my fellow conservatives today, it's time for us to come together."

2.) How long does the Melania Trump plagiarism fallout continue?

Tuesday's headlines were dominated not by the previous night's program of speakers or the campaign's intended national security focus, but instead on the fact that Melania Trump's Monday night speech lifted passages from First Lady Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech.

The campaign made things worse Tuesday morning, when campaign chairman Paul Manafort denied that Melania Trump had plagiarized, instead blaming the situation (inexplicably) on Hillary Clinton. As a result, an issue the campaign could have effectively put to rest has continued to draw attention away from the actual program of events.

Does anything change today? Will Manafort or others on the campaign offer up a clearer explanation for what happened?

3.) Trump's former 2016 rivals

After an incredibly contentious primary, Trump has made nice with some of his former rivals--or at least, enough for them to agree to speak at the convention. Three of them are up Wednesday night: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

All three of those men have had some pretty harsh words for Trump in the past: Walker, for example, dropped out of the race last year and made it clear he was doing so to consolidate the race against Trump; Cruz called him a "pathological liar" and a "narcissist" shortly before dropping out of the race in May.

Like the speeches from top GOP congressional leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday night, this trio of former rivals will give some insight into how "united" the Republican Party is or can be. These are people who had a far from amicable end to their time as competitors, after all--so if they offer some legitimate praise of Trump, rather than just attacks on his likely Democratic opponent, that would carry some weight.

4.) It's Newt!

Newt Gingrich may not have managed to be chosen as Trump's running mate, but the former House Speaker is still hitting the speaking circuit on Trump's behalf--and he and his wife, Callista, will take the stage in Cleveland Thursday night.

Gingrich's oratory style can be colorful, to say the least--in the past he's suggested everything from a permanent moonbase to the construction of a real-life Jurassic Park. He also recently described Trump as a "pirate," which he later clarified meant "folks who are outside the regular order, who get things done, who are colorful."

Now that he doesn't need to worry about holding himself back in the hopes of joining the ticket, Gingrich seems to have loosened up a bit--he called last week, for example, for testing all Muslims in the country to see whether they believe in Sharia law--so with his speech Wednesday night, there's always the potential for some drama.

CBS News' Steve Chaggaris contributed to this story.

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