On the first day of the Republican Party convention, US President said: “We caught them doing really bad things. Let’s see what happens. They’re trying it again.”
By Kenneth Tiven in Washington
In the opening session of the Republican convention, the limited number of delegates invited to the curtailed event nominated Donald Trump for a second term as president. It was hardly a surprise that the President broke tradition and turned up at the podium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
He avoided talking about policy issues, but rather attacked mail-in voting in advance of the November election while accusing Democrats of “using COVID to steal the election”. The president likes to be firmly at the centre of things.
The Covid-19 pandemic with more than 1,80,000 dead Americans and millions unemployed in a collapsed economy has put Trump on the defensive, trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in most presidential polling.
Trump boasted about the stock market and attacked Democratic officials who have imposed more stringent coronavirus restrictions than some Republican officials.
Trump seeks re-election amid a pandemic that his administration has failed to contain, as well as widespread economic pain and racial unrest. He used his speech to rally the party by focusing on the strength of the stock market and attacking Democratic officials who imposed coronavirus restrictions. Very few images of people with masks appeared in the entire programme.
He repeated his imaginary allegations that President Barack Obama and then Vice-President Joe Biden had spied on his campaign in 2016. “We caught them doing really bad things,” he said. “Let’s see what happens. They’re trying it again.”
CNN cut away from Trump in the middle of those remarks. MSNBC carried the entirety of Trump’s speech live, opting for real-time analysis in on-screen graphics. Fox News did not offer a correction to Trump’s false claims.
The evening sessions are being carried for just one hour by the American broadcast networks, with the cable news channels and streaming media carrying most of the evening.
Unlike the Democratic Party gathering last week which knit together a virtual programme from all over the nation, much of what the GOP does this week is taking place in North Carolina. Trump had tried moving the events to get around pandemic rules but that proved impossible.
Trump criticized Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, telling the crowd in Charlotte that Cooper and other Democratic governors had enacted virus restrictions simply to hurt his re-election chances and would lift them after Election Day. “You have a governor who is in a total shutdown mood,” he said. “I guarantee you on November 4, it will all open up.”
The overarching theme of all the speakers on the first night was that the Democrats are dangerous radicals bent on taking over America. Nicky Haley, the American-born daughter of Indian parents, was UN ambassador early in his term. She recounted Trump’s record of strength on global issues. She says Trump moves things forward while accusing the Democratic vision as socialism. She blamed China specifically for the pandemic virus.
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Trump’s son Donald Jr. talked about the great economy until the “Chinese communist pandemic struck”. He described Biden as the Loch Ness monster of the swamp. Trump Jr. claims the other political party attacks the principles of founding fathers. He says the Democrats call dangerous protests peaceful but says defunding the police is not possible. The Democrats have not claimed changing police funding as a policy issue.
Trump junior and Kimberly Guilfoyle (who happens to be his girl friend) both delivered loud and passionate remarks with a focus on Trump’s approach to the pandemic. Speakers neither talked about the American death toll nor explained why so many wealthy nations did so much better-keeping cases down and had far lower death rates.
Radical Left is a phrase used by multiple speakers, applied quantitatively to people and policies, but “cosmopolitan elites” was heard but once. Kamala Harris had her first name pronounced several different ways. It was not a surprise that most of the issues that have cropped up in President Trump’s political life in the past ten days went unmentioned. One of them is the ban on the use of government property for political purposes. Some of Trump’s advisers insist that the parts of the White House that are being used are technically part of the residence but others privately scoff at the Hatch Act and say they take pride in violating its regulations.
The nuances of any given aspects of American life or political decision-making are rarely a part of these convention situations. It is not much different than when a superior Cricket batsman doesn’t talk about his mediocre fielding prowess.
—The writer has worked in senior positions at The Washington Post, NBC, ABC and CNN and also consults for several Indian channels
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