GOP Convention mixes party politics and official government business on Day 2

Michael Pompeo talked about President Donald Trump having made families safer with his America First vision and Melania Trump reached out to COVID-19 victims.

Updated - August 26, 2020 11:55 am IST

Published - August 26, 2020 11:22 am IST

President Donald Trump leaves with first lady Melania Trump after her speech to the 2020 Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Washington.

President Donald Trump leaves with first lady Melania Trump after her speech to the 2020 Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Washington.

By featuring a naturalisation ceremony at the White House, using the Rose Garden to host First Lady Melania Trump’s speech and enlisting Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to speak, the Republican National Convention (RNC) blended themes of official business and party politics on its second night.

Speaking from Jerusalem on an official trip, Mr. Pompeo talked about President Donald Trump having made families safer with his America First vision.

Also read: Nikki Haley bats for Trump and GOP on economy and race relations

“It may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it has worked,” he said.

The State Department says its employees are not permitted to “speak for or against a partisan candidate, political party or partisan political group at a convention.” While his predecessors have attended political conventions, no sitting Secretary of State has delivered a speech at one. Responding to criticism a State Department had said, as per reports, that Mr. Pompeo was speaking in his personal capacity and had not used government resources.

During his speech Mr. Pompeo talked about Mr. Trump’s actions against the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), Iran and North Korea.

Also read: Trump campaign releases commercial for Indian-Americans featuring PM Modi

“The President has held China accountable for covering up the China virus and allowing it to spread death and economic destruction in America and around the world, and he will not rest until justice is done,” Mr. Pompeo said.

“He has ended ridiculously unfair trade deals with China that punched a hole in our economy. Those jobs are coming back home,” Mr. Pompeo said. Both parties have used the China trade deals as material for their conventions. The Democratic convention last week included a video from a farmer who had been impacted negatively by Mr. Trump’s trade deal with China.

Mr. Pompeo praised Mr. Trump’s controversial shifting of the U.S.’s Israel Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which he called the “rightful capital of the Jewish homeland.” He also praised the recent Israel–UAE peace deal brokered by Mr.Trump.

‘You are not alone,’ Melania tells COVID-19 victims

The First Lady, delivering the last speech for the evening from another government property — the Rose Garden of the White House — dwelt at length on the personal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering sympathy for those who had been impacted.

Also read: Editorial on Joe Biden nominaton: Last lap

“I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed dramatically,” she said. “I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone,” she said. Many in the audience were not wearing masks.

“Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted in this pandemic,” Mrs. Trump said on Tuesday. Mr. Trump has been criticised for not providing the right kind of leadership in responding to the pandemic, which has hit the U.S. the worst.

During her speech she addressed the racial tensions in the country and aspects of her ‘ Be Best’ programme, including drug abuse and children’s safe use of social media.

‘End Violence and Looting’

Mrs. Trump highlighted the racial unrest in the country and asked people to resolve the issues peacefully and to “look at things from all perspectives.” She urged “people to come together in a civil manner “ to live up to American ideals.

“I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice and never make assumptions based on the colour of a person’s skin,” Mrs. Trump said.

She said “total honesty” was what citizens deserved from their President. “Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking.” While the President is known to frequently tweet what is on his mind in a stream-of-consciousness style he is also known for frequent deviations from fact-based statements.

One of the themes of Day Two was immigration and it included a naturalisation ceremony filmed at the White House. The Trump administration has taken a number of steps making it harder for would-be immigrants to settle in America and naturalise — from the suspension of work visas to hiking application fees. The ceremony, presumably intended to show the administration in a different light with regard to immigration, featured six immigrants, all from minority backgrounds, including an Indian software developer, Sudha Sundari Narayanan, whom Mr. Trump described as a “phenomenal success.”

Hatch Act

Mr. Trump presided over the ceremony, while Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf administered the Oath of Allegiance. Critics have argued that the ceremony could violate the Hatch Act which prohibits federal employees from participating in political activities on federal property.

Other themes for the evening included the economy, and a continuation of Monday’s ideas of the Democrats as “radicals” wanting “ mob rule” and “anarchy”.

Two of Mr Trump’s children – Tiffany and Eric – spoke on Tuesday.

“ I can relate to so many of you who might be looking for a job. My father built a thriving economy once, and believe me, he will do it again,” Ms. Trump, a recent law school graduate, said. Her brother, Eric, also highlighted Mr. Trump’s record on the economy.

Both Trump children took shots at the media in their speeches. Ms. Trump accused media and tech giants of wanting to promote a “biased and fabricated view” and of manipulating information to fit narratives they seek to promote.

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