RNC night 1: Republicans argue that Trump's reelection will keep America safe
The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday with several surprise appearances by President Trump and a message that his reelection is the only way to keep America safe from crime and the coronavirus. Earlier in the day, the Republican Party formally nominated Mr. Trump in the roll call.
The convention's theme for the first night was "Land of Promise." A video featuring Mr. Trump with essential workers in the White House marked the president's first surprise appearance of the night. Several speakers during the event thanked Mr. Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In another surprise, Mr. Trump appeared in another video from the White House Diplomatic Room with six Americans who had been held hostage by U.S. adversaries: Michael White, Sam Goodwin, Pastor Andrew Brunson, Joshua and Tamara Holt and Pastor Bryan Nerran. Each of the former hostages were freed during the Trump administration.
Two marquee speakers were Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who were photographed pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters. "Make no mistake: No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats' America," Patricia McCloskey said.
Donald Trump, Jr., and his girlfriend, former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, both highlighted talking points on the economy, calling Democrats "socialists" and castigating the "cancel culture."
Two Republicans from South Carolina, Senator Tim Scott and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, closed out the convention by sounding a different note about America's promise. And the two, who are both politicians of color, decisively rejected the politics and policies of Democrats and Joe Biden.
"There are millions of families like mine across this nation, full of potential seeking to live the American Dream," Scott said. "And I'm here tonight to tell you that supporting the Republican ticket gives you the best chance of making that dream a reality."
Read highlights from major speakers below:
Charlie Kirk, the founder of conservative youth organization Turning Point USA, kicked off the evening's program with an ominous warning to voters, casting the November election as "a decision between preserving America as we know it, and eliminating everything we love."
"Trump is the bodyguard of western civilization," Kirk said. "Trump was elected to protect our families from the vengeful mob that seeks to destroy our way of life, our neighborhoods, schools, church, and values. President Trump was elected to defend the American way of life."
Kirk characterized Mr. Trump as "the guardian of America," and said he is "shielding the innocent from the selfish ambition of the selfish elites."
One of Mr. Trump's most fervent defenders on Capitol Hill, Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, began his remarks with a dig at Biden, saying he is delivering his remarks "from an auditorium emptier than Joe Biden's daily schedule."
Gaetz warned that casting a vote for Biden will effectively be handing power to progressives such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, from New York, and like Kirk painted a dark picture of the country under a Biden administration.
"Settle for Biden – that's the hashtag promoted by AOC and the socialists. The woke-topians will settle for Biden because they will make him an extra in a movie written, produced and directed by others," he said. "It's a horror film really. They'll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door. And the police aren't coming when you call in Democrat-run cities. They're already being defunded, disbanded."
Ronna McDaniel, who helms the Republican National Committee, focused on differentiating the GOP from the Democrats, saying the latter are advocating for policies that "would have been unthinkable a decade ago."
The RNC chairwoman said that Democrats failed to describe their policy priorities during the DNC, and said the race in November between Mr. Trump and Biden pits a president who is tough on China and illegal immigration against a "nice" guy.
She said the Democrats' "argument for Joe Biden boiled down to the fact that they think he's a nice guy."
McDaniel said that over the next few days, Americans will hear from hardworking, everyday Americans as evidence of how Mr. Trump has been fighting for all Americans across his first term in office.
"Tonight begins a new chapter in the Great American story – a story that has inspired the world for generations and when we reelect President Trump this November, the best is yet to come," she said.
Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, also one of Mr. Trump's most vocal supporters on Capitol Hill, painted Mr. Trump not only as the president who has taken on the status quo, but also recounted a personal interaction Mr. Trump had with Jordan's family.
"I love the president's intensity and his willingness to fight every day in Washington for our families. But what I also appreciate about the president is something most Americans never see, how much he truly cares about people, " Jordan said.
Jordan recalled that two years ago, as his family mourned the loss of his nephew Eli in a car accident, he was speaking with Mr. Trump on the phone three days after his death as he was walking into Eli's parent's home.
Jordan said he asked the president to speak with Eli's father, Todd, and Mr. Trump obliged.
"For the next five minutes, family and friends sat in complete silence, as the president of the United States took time to talk to a dad who was hurting," the Ohio Republican said. "That's the president I've gotten to know over the last four year, a president who shares private moments like this with soldiers, victims of violent crime and people who've had businesses destroyed by the mob. That's the individual who's Made America Great Again and who knows America's best days are still in front of us."
Mark and Patricia McCloskey
The St. Louis couple who wielded guns outside their mansion as Black Lives Matters protesters marched past, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, said they were appearing before voters to warn that protesters could descend upon their neighborhoods as well if Joe Biden is elected in November.
"Whether it's defunding the police, ending cash bail so criminals can be released back out on the streets the same day to riot again, or encouraging anarchy on our streets, it seems as if Democrats no longer view the government's job as protecting honest citizens from criminals, but rather protecting criminals from honest citizens," Mark McCloskey said.
The McCloskeys have been charged with unlawful use of a weapon over the incident.
Patricia McCloskey claimed Democrats want to "abolish the suburbs altogether" and praised Mr. Trump for protecting suburban neighborhoods.
"Make no mistake: No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats' America," she said.
Patricia McCloskey said Mr. Trump must be reelected, because "when we don't have basic safety and security in our communities, we will never be free to build a brighter future for ourselves, for our children, and for our country."
Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana shared his behind-the-scenes experience with Mr. Trump. He recalled being visited by the president and first lady Melania Trump in the hospital after he was shot when a gunman opened fire on lawmakers during baseball practice in 2017. The president's actions as Scalise recovered are a side of him "the media will never show you," he said.
The Louisiana Republican said that in Mr. Trump's first term in office, he has shown "visionary leadership," including during the coronavirus crisis as the Trump administration seeks to speed up development and distribution of a vaccine.
"America has been through tough times before," Scalise said. "Who better to lead us out of these times than the president who already built the strongest economy our country has ever seen? Donald Trump did it before. Donald Trump will deliver for us again."
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley
As one of the few former members of the Trump administration speaking at the convention, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley recalled her experience representing the country in the body and praised Mr. Trump for his foreign policy record.
"The U.N. is not for the faint of heart. It's a place where dictators, murderers and thieves denounce America, and then put their hands out and demand that we pay their bills," Haley said. "Well, President Trump put an end to all that. With his leadership, we did what Barack Obama and Joe Biden refused to do. We stood up for America and we stood against our enemies."
Haley sought to contrast Mr. Trump with Biden, claiming that if the former vice president is elected in November, he would be doing the bidding of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Bernie Sanders and the progressive members o f"the Squad."
"Their vision for America is socialism. And we know that socialism has failed everywhere," she said.
Haley said that across his first term, Mr. Trump has demonstrated a "record of strength and success" and said he is tough on malign foreign actors, while claiming Biden would be a boon to adversaries.
"Joe Biden is good for Iran and ISIS, great for Communist China and he's a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologize, abstain, and abandon our values," she said. "Donald Trump takes a different approach. He's tough on China, and he took on ISIS and won. And he tells the world what it needs to hear."
Haley also forcefully rejected the claim that America is a racist country and recalled her own experiences growing up in the South as the daughter of Indian immigrants, saying she was a "Brown girl in a Black and White world."
"America is a story that's a work in progress," she said. "Now is the time to build on that progress, and make America even freer, fairer, and better for everyone. That's why it's tragic to see so much of the Democratic Party turn a blind eye toward riots and rage."
Haley also recalled the unity in South Carolina, where she served as governor, following the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston where nine worshipers were killed by a white supremacist.
"America isn't perfect. But the principles we hold dear are perfect," she said. "If there's one thing I've learned, it's that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America. It's time to keep that blessing alive for the next generation. This president, and this party, are committed to that noble task."
Donald Trump Jr.
As the first member of the Trump family to speak at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump, Jr. praised his father for his response to the coronavirus epidemic and economic gains and said a Biden presidency would harm working Americans.
"Joe Biden is basically the Loch Ness Monster of the Swamp. For the past half-century, he's been lurking around in there. He sticks his head up every now and then to run for president, then he disappears and doesn't do much in between," Trump, Jr. said. "So 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 has ever seen, and President Trump will do it again."
Trump, Jr. said that under his father's administration, free speech has thrived, law enforcement is supported and all students will have access to a good education.
"America is the greatest country on Earth. But my father's entire worldview revolves around the idea that we can always do even better," he said. "Imagine the life you want to have, one with a great job, a beautiful home, a perfect family. You can have it. Imagine the country you want to live in, one with true equal opportunity, where hard work pays off and justice is served with compassion and without partiality. You can have it."
"Imagine a world where the evils of communism and radical Islamic terrorism are not given a chance to spread, where heroes are celebrated and the good guys win. You can have it," Trump, Jr. continued. "That is the life, that is the country, that is the world that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are after. And yes, you can have it."
Senator Tim Scott
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who closed out the first night of the Republican National Convention, said that while Mr. Trump and Biden are the two presidential candidates on the ballot in November, the election is "about the promise of America."
"We live in a world that only wants you to believe in the bad news, racially, economically and culturally-polarizing news. The truth is, our nation's arc always bends back towards fairness. We are not fully where we want to be, but I thank God almighty we are not where we used to be," he said. "We are always striving to be better. When we stumble, and we will, we pick ourselves back up and try again".
Scott praised Trump for the economic gains in his first term in office and for embracing Opportunity Zones, which stemmed from Scott's experiences working with his mentor, John Moniz, a Chick-Fil-a operator, and compared his record to Biden's record.
"I'm going to ask you, the American people, not to look simply at what the candidates say but to look back at what they've done," he said. "This election is about your future, and it's critical to paint a full picture of the records of Donald Trump and Joe Biden."
Scott recounted Biden's past comments on Black Americans and his efforts spearheading the 1994 crime bill. He also lauded the president's efforts on criminal justice reform and providing more funding for historically Black colleges and universities.
"When it comes to what Joe Biden says he'll do, look at his actions, look at his policies, look at what he already did and did not do while he's been in Washington for 47 years," Scott said.
Scott closed by warning that if Biden and Harris are elected, "they will turn our country into a socialist utopia."
"There are millions of families like mine across this nation, full of potential seeking to live the American Dream," he said. "And I'm here tonight to tell you that supporting the Republican ticket gives you the best chance of making that dream a reality."
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