Washington: Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president in a speech closing the party’s convention on Thursday in which he argued voters can’t trust Joe Biden to navigate the coronavirus pandemic or heal the nation’s racial divisions.
“I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States,” Trump said. “In a new term as president we will again build the greatest economy in history, quickly returning to full employment, soaring incomes and record prosperity.”
After previously struggling to articulate an agenda for his second term, Trump promised to cut taxes, create 10 million jobs in 10 months, expand charter schools and school choice to more families, turn the country into the “manufacturing superpower of the world” and “end our reliance on China.”
He also promised to set the U.S. on course to land the first woman on the moon and to be the first nation to plant its flag on Mars.
“This election will decide whether we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny,” Trump said. “This election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life, or whether we allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.”
Trump trails Biden by 7.1 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. He asked voters to consider “a simple question: How can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?”
Biden, he said, “is the destroyer of American jobs.”
“For 47 years, Joe Biden took the donations of blue collar workers, gave them hugs and even kisses,” Trump said, to laughter from a large audience seated on the lawn. “And told them he felt their pain – and then he flew back to Washington and voted to ship their jobs to China and many other distant lands.”
Trump has sought to make China, and what he says is mutual affection between the U.S. adversary and Biden, a central concern for voters. He has also tried to place blame for the U.S. coronavirus outbreak on Beijing in order to deflect criticism of his administration’s response to the pandemic.
Trump “came to Washington for one reason and one reason alone: to make America great again,” his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump said when introducing him. “My father has strong convictions. He knows what he believes and says what he thinks.”
She said past presidents didn’t have “the guts” of his father to make needed changes.
Trump delivered his address accepting the GOP nomination for president from the South Lawn of the White House, less than 24 hours after catastrophic Hurricane Laura struck Louisiana. Four people were killed when trees fell on their homes, Governor John Bel Edwards said.
“Our thoughts are with the wonderful people who have just come through the wrath of Hurricane Laura,” Trump said. “While the hurricane was fierce, one of the strongest to make landfall in 150 years, the casualties and deaths were far less than thought possible only 24 hours ago.”
The president said earlier Thursday that he was prepared to cancel his speech but that “we got a little bit lucky” with the storm because “it passed quickly.”
His speech capped a four-day gathering that sought to bolster — or in some cases, re-make — his image as a promise-keeper defending traditional American values against Biden and Democrats. Trump’s opponents have been portrayed as socialists and radicals intent on irreparably damaging the very nature of the U.S.
Several speakers repeated claims that the U.S. wouldn’t be safe under a Biden presidency. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump friend and adviser, said Democrats want to “execute their pro-criminal, anti-police policies.”
“Don’t let Democrats do to America what they have done to New York,” Giuliani said. “The Democrats are urging you to vote for an obviously defective candidate.”
The convention mixed multiple Black speakers — almost all of them men — asserting that Trump is not a racist with speakers who voiced full-throated support for police, who many Americans believe engage in systemic racism. The president has recently drawn criticism for promising to keep low-income housing out of U.S. suburbs, which his opponents say is a naked appeal to White voters.
“Many on the other side love to incite division by claiming that President Trump is a racist,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the only Black person in Trump’s cabinet, said in his convention speech. “They could not be more wrong.”
Democrats spent their convention last week calling Trump an unfit leader who would threaten democracy if given another four years in office.
“At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas,” Trump said. “At the Democrat convention, you barely heard a word about their agenda. But that’s not because they don’t have one. It’s because their agenda is the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee.”
Trump defended his response to the pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 Americans and threatens his re-election. About 62% of voters believe the struggle against the coronavirus is “going badly,” according to a CBS News poll released Sunday, while just 27% of Americans say things are going well overall.
While Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have emphasized Trump’s limits on travel from China and efforts to rapidly build ventilators and develop vaccines and therapies, Democrats say Trump cost American lives by initially dismissing the threat of the virus and never developing a comprehensive national response.
Trump is also expected to address protests and riots that have erupted across the country since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May. The latest epicenter is in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, on Sunday.
Two people were shot and killed in the Kenosha protests on Tuesday by a White Illinois teenager who has expressed support for Trump on social media.
Trump and Republicans at this week’s convention have nodded at the right to protest racial injustice. But more emphasis has been placed on support for police and what Trump has repeatedly called the need for “law and order” on U.S. streets.
“I have seen his true conscience,” a Black aide at the White House, Ja’Ron Smith, said in a convention speech. “I just wish everyone could see the deep empathy he shows to families whose loved ones were killed in senseless violence.”
That theme continued on Thursday night, with speakers including Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, which has endorsed Trump, and Ann Dorn, the widow of retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn, who was killed during protests in June.
“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Lynch said. “You can have four more years of President Trump. Or you can have no safety, no justice, no peace.”
The president heralded an economic recovery from the pandemic, though the country continues to suffer about 1,000 deaths each day from the virus and and initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 22 topped 1 million again on Thursday. About 14.5 million Americans are still claiming unemployment benefits.
While Trump’s top concern is persuading Americans that the pandemic has been better managed and more contained than they think, he also outlined a second-term agenda.
“The Republican Party goes forward united, determined, and ready to welcome millions of Democrats, Independents, and anyone who believes in the Greatness of America and the righteous heart of the American people,” Trump said. “This towering American spirit has prevailed over every challenge, and lifted us to the summit of human endeavor.”
Other speakers on Wednesday included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Housing Secretary Ben Carson, the only Black member of Trump’s cabinet; Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate; and Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, a former Democrat who switched parties earlier this year, objecting to Trump’s impeachment. –Bloomberg