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RNC 2020: Speakers attempt to rewrite Donald Trump’s record on pandemic, race

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by people who were held hostage abroad, speaks by video feed during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, U.S. August 24, 2020. Photo credit: 2020 Republican National Convention   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Day One of the Republican National Convention kicked off on Monday, with the evening’s speeches dwelling on several common themes. The speeches and taped conversations sought to paint a different picture of U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic thus far – a picture that contradicts the record of the U.S. being the worst-hit country globally, with more than 5.7 million cases and over 175,000 deaths.

Other themes for the evening included the portrayal of the Democrats and their presidential nominee Joe Biden as radicals wanting to spread chaos and anarchy across the country and wanting to get rid of suburban communities and take away freedom from Americans.

Several speakers, including those from minority communities, such as former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Indian American Nikki Haley, African American Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, African American footballer and Trump advisor Herschel Walker, defended Mr. Trump’s and the GOP’s record on race.

Mr. Walker said it “hurts my [his] soul” to hear Mr. Trump called names. “The worst one is ‘racist.’ I take it as a personal insult that people would think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist,” he said.

“Our side is working on policy – while Joe Biden’s radical Democrats are trying to permanently transform what it means to be an American,” Mr. Scott, who has been known to criticize Mr. Trump’s comments, said. In his speech, Mr. Scott praised some of Mr. Trump’s policies, which he said had helped African Americans.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, on Aug. 24, 2020.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, on Aug. 24, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

He also warned of a cultural revolution under the Democrats. “Make no mistake: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want a cultural revolution. A fundamentally different America.”

Mr. Scott also said the election was not solely about Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden but about “you and me” and the “promise of America.”

The evening also featured a taped speech by Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the Missouri couple who had pointed their guns at peaceful protestors at the end of June, who, the couple had alleged, had trespassed onto their property. Ms. McCloskey made the unsubstantiated claim that Mr. Biden wanted to “abolish the suburbs.”

Twenty-six-year-old activist, Charlie Kirk, an evangelical Christian who runs an organisation called Turning Point USA, called Mr. Trump “the bodyguard of western civilization. Mr. Kirk said he had come to “warn” people that “this election is a decision between preserving America as we know it and eliminating everything that we love.”

The President’s son Donald Trump Jr. portrayed Mr. Biden as part of “the swamp” – a term Mr. Trump uses frequently for the Washington establishment.

“Joe Biden is basically the Loch Ness monster of the swamp,” he said. “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.”

Mr. Trump will make an appearance every night of the convention. In Monday evening’s session, he appeared in two pre-recorded videos, in one of which he was seen discussing the impact of COVID-19 group of essential workers whose lives had been particularly impacted by the pandemic.

The evening involved a speech from a physician G E Ghali, who praised Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

“I feel uniquely positioned to share how President Trump’s decisive leadership led to a rapid and efficient response to the coronavirus pandemic. I know this as a health professional, and as a COVID patient,” Mr. Ghali said.

In this image from video, Dr. G.E. Ghali speaks from Washington, during the first night of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 24, 2020. (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)

In this image from video, Dr. G.E. Ghali speaks from Washington, during the first night of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 24, 2020. (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)   | Photo Credit: AP

He talked about a “prompt response” from Mr. Trump with regard to regulatory processes: citing, among others, the fast tracked approval of drug remdesivir for therapeutic use. Amy Ford, a nurse, spoke of insurance cover to telehealth services as another Trump administration achievement.

It is true that Mr. Trump did speed up or enact policies that enabled these actions, but his overall handling of the pandemic has been criticized for coming too late and being disorganized. His son, Donald Trump Jr., sought to portray his father’s response to the pandemic that was noticeably at odds with ground realities.

“Fortunately, as the virus began to spread, the President acted quickly and ensured ventilators got to hospitals that needed them most. He delivered PPE to our brave frontline workers,” the younger Mr. Trump said. Even as late as the end of February, the older Mr. Trump had claimed the pandemic was “ very much under control” and spoke of the virus disappearing, “like a miracle.”

Earlier in the day, the GOP formally nominated Mr. Trump after he had won the 1,276 delegate votes. Mr. Trump appeared in person in Charlotte, North Carolina, after he was nominated. He is expected to give his formal acceptance speech on Thursday from the White House.

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Printable version | Oct 30, 2020 6:35:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/rnc-2020-speakers-attempt-to-rewrite-donald-trumps-record-on-pandemic-race/article32435520.ece

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