The Republican Party began its presidential nominating convention on Monday praising President Donald Trump as a hero and the political saviour of a nation they see under threat from a dangerously radical Democratic Party.
A parade of Republican speakers angrily cast the upcoming election as an extreme choice between Trump, defender of the American way of life, and a “rotten cabal” of left-wing activists who would destroy the United States.
“It’s almost as if this election is shaping up to be church, work and school versus rioting, looting and vandalism, or in the words of Biden and the Democrats, ‘peaceful protesting’,” Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son, said.
“If you’re looking for hope, look to the man who did what the failed Obama-Biden Administration never could do, and built the greatest economy our country had ever seen,” Trump Jr said.
“And President Trump will do it again,” he said, one of the very few references on the night to the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating economic effect.
The convention began during the daytime in Charlotte, North Carolina, and continued in the evening from Washington, DC, with a mixture of speeches and taped segments in a hybrid convention limited by safety concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus precautions meant there was no audience in Washington’s Mellon Auditorium where convention speakers delivered their remarks.
Nikki Haley, the Trump administration’s former ambassador to the UN said Trump has pursued an “America first” agenda in international affairs.
“Obama and Biden let North Korea threaten America. President Trump rejected that weakness, and we passed the toughest sanctions on North Korea in history,” Haley said.
“Obama and Biden let Iran get away with murder and literally sent them a plane full of cash. President Trump did the right thing and ripped up the Iran nuclear deal,” Haley said.
“Obama and Biden led the United Nations to denounce our friend and ally, Israel. President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem – and when the UN tried to condemn us, I was proud to cast the American veto,” she said.
Speakers in the Republican programme warned repeatedly about an alleged socialist agenda behind the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
“They want to destroy this country and everything we have fought for and hold near and dear,” said Kimberly Guilfoyle, a conservative television personality and the girlfriend of Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr
“They want to enslave you to the liberal, weak, dependent ideology to the point where you will not recognise yourself,” Guilfoyle said.
“This is an election about a party that wants to burn the foundations of our country to the ground and a party that wants to rebuild and protect our great nation,” said Representative Steve Scalise, a leading Republican member of the US House of Representatives.
Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the US Senate, described Trump’s policy agenda for creating jobs through opportunity zones, school choice and tax cuts for small businesses.
“We live in a world that only wants you to believe in the bad news, racially, economically and culturally polarising news,” Scott said. “The truth is, our nation’s arc always bends back towards fairness.”
“Make no mistake. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want a cultural revolution, a fundamentally different America. If we let them, they will turn our country into a socialist utopia,” he said.
Repeatedly, speakers sought to characterise the Black Lives Matters protesters as radicals and a dangerous mob and claimed – incorrectly – that Biden’s Democrats want to defund the police. Biden has explicitly rejected calls by some Black Lives Matter protesters to defund police.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the white suburban St Louis couple who waved semi-automatic guns at marching protesters, delivered pre-taped remarks in support of Trump.
“These radicals are not content with marching in the streets. They want to walk the halls of Congress. They want power,” said Mark McCloskey.
Democrats “want policies to abolish the suburbs” with the introduction of “low-quality, low-income housing”, warned Patricia McCloskey.
“Make no mistake, no matter where you live, your family will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” she claimed.
The McCloskeys have been charged by a St Louis city prosecutor with unlawful use of a weapon.
Trump spoke earlier in the day at the convention in Charlotte after Republican delegates voted to nominate him as the Republican Party’s candidate for president once more.
In his remarks, he complained that North Carolina’s governor, a Democrat, had refused to ease restrictions on the size of public gatherings in order to allow the planned convention of 2,550 delegates to go ahead.
“You know these Democrat governors – they love to shut down until after the election is over because they want to make our numbers look as bad as possible for the economy,” Trump said in a rambling 50-minute speech in which he mischaracterised Biden’s agenda.
The US has recorded the most cases and deaths from coronavirus in the world. As the convention concluded its first day, the country had confirmed more than 5.7 million cases and 177,248 deaths from the disease.
New York fraud probe
The convention began on a day when the New York state attorney general, a Democrat, revealed an ongoing civil fraud investigation of the president’s business, the Trump Organization.
Attorney General Letitia James filed papers in state court in New York City seeking enforcement of subpoenas for documents and testimony from witnesses including Eric Trump, the president’s son.
New York is investigating whether the Trump Organization and the president inflated the value of real estate and other assets in order to secure loans for Trump’s Seven Springs mansion on a 230-acre property north of New York City.
The state is collecting information about several other Trump-related properties, including the Trump National Golf Club near Los Angeles, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and an office building on Wall Street in Manhattan, New York, according to the court filing.