The Republican National Convention — four nights of Trump family and friends — highlighted the differences between the president and Democrats, mixing tribute and exaggeration.
President Donald Trump was omnipresent, appearing each night of the convention concluding with his 70-minute acceptance speech to more than 1,000 people on the South Lawn. First lady Melania Trump addressed a smaller group Tuesday in her remodeled Rose Garden.
Trump denounced Democrats as “radicals,” “anarchists,” and “wild-eyed Marxists” — charges previously leveled by a parade of speakers. It was the flip side of the apocalyptic vision Democrats described a week earlier if Trump were re-elected.
Joe Biden, according to Trump and others speakers, spent 47 years of public service failing Blacks, labor and U.S. interests abroad.
Trump said Biden “is not the savior of America’s soul — he is the destroyer of America’s jobs and, if given the chance, he will be the destroyer of American greatness.”
Trump targeted the Clinton era North American Free Trade Agreement — also a whipping boy for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and the far left.
Yet the Congressional Research Service reported in 2017, “In reality, NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters.”
Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement included gains for labor and the environment. Some provisions mirror the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Obama administration initiative Trump and the far left disparaged.
Some TPP provisions also were included in the first phase of Trump’s new China trade deal. Our position has been that the TPP — a multilateral effort to counter China — would have been more effective than going it alone, which prompted retaliation against farmers.
Trump accused Biden of sending American “sons and daughters to fight in endless foreign wars.”
Biden voted for the second Iraq War, but Trump didn’t initially oppose it. Early on he told Fox News, “It looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”
Trump wants out of Afghanistan, but engaged in warmongering with Iran.
A recent CNN poll had Biden leading Trump by 11%. A key distinction was character — who “cares about people like you” and is “honest and trustworthy.” Biden had a 6% favorable rating, while Trump was at negative 9%. Trump also trails by 23% among females, including white women who backed him in 2016.
While Republicans celebrated his “tough guy” image — “Everyone knows he can be tough. Tough when he takes on China. Tough when he works to fix our unfair trade deals. Tough when he fights to secure our borders,” said Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee Chair — testimonials spoke of his empathy in private.
“I can tell you: He really cares, and he takes action,” said Ja’Ron Smith, his deputy assistant, while Dan Scavino, his deputy chief of staff, cited “his endless kindness to everyone he meets.”
Their message was amplified by two convention firsts — a presidential pardon for Jon Ponder, a Black man convicted of robbery who started Hope for Prisoners to help ex-convicts adapt to society, and naturalizing five immigrants.
Blacks from Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a future star, also made the case for Trump, while Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said those calling Trump a racist “could not be more wrong.”
“Trump has some problems in the suburbs, even in South Carolina,” Sen. Lindsey Graham has admitted. So Trump claimed Democrats want to “demolish the suburbs” as law and order took center stage.
While the vast majority of an estimated 450 protests nationwide have been peaceful, images of wanton looting — such as the unprovoked pillaging in downtown Minneapolis last week — are ammunition for Republicans.
Left unremarked were the killings of Blacks by police and three recent shooting deaths — two protestors and one federal officer — by members of far-right militia members.
On Saturday night, a member of a far-right group was killed amid clashes between pro-Trump groups and left-wing protesters in Portland.
Trump also suffers from a 32% approval rating for his handling of the pandemic.
“As the virus began to spread, the president acted quickly and ensured ventilators got to hospitals that needed them most,” Donald Trump Jr. said. “There is more work to do, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
The U.S. has suffered 180,000 COVID deaths — a quarter of the global total — but has 4% of the world’s population.
Trump’s base is unwavering, but many mainstream Republicans, including 200 members of the George W. Bush administration, have rejected him.
Meanwhile, Biden has drifted left to make peace with Sanders after 12% of his supporters backed Trump in 2016. Yet Biden has not advocated “defunding” police as some in the far left have.
Neither party pursued traditional platforms, but the contrast between Republicans and Democrats is stark.
Among Republicans, Trump’s tough-guy personality, emphasis on “America First,” pro-police law-and-order positions, his border wall, anti-abortion stance and disdain for multilateral treaties have become cornerstones for achieving a second term.
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