Novel Nominating Conventions Phase 2: The Republicans
From the outset, it was clear that the virtual Republican convention would bear little resemblance to the Democratic convention held the week before. At the beginning of the first primetime segment on Monday, August 24, viewers were assured that President Trump would make an appearance each day of the convention , after which President Trump announced, “This is the most important election in the history of our country.”
The first part of the primetime segment of the Republican convention featured President Trump sitting in the White House with, as he put it, “ six incredible people who were held hostage by various countries.” Each of the six went on to thank the President for the part he played in getting them released. For example, a man who had been held hostage in Iran said, “You were able to get me out of that prison in record time.” A pastor who had been stopped and held hostage in India on his way to Nepal added, “Thank you for getting me out and for getting us home.”
The remainder of the primetime segment was devoted to speeches delivered by former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley; Donald Trump Junior; and Senator Tim Scott of North Carolina. It soon became apparent that the focus of these speeches was bashing Joe Biden and praising President Trump.
The glue that appeared to hold the convention together was provided by Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos and several other commentators such as Chris Christie, Rahm Emmanuel, Sarah Fagan and Byron Pitts.
The first speaker, former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, labeled Biden, “a former vice president from a failed administration.“ She went on to claim that President Trump offers “strength and success“ while Joe Biden offers “failure and weakness.“ She added, ”He (Trump) Took on ISIS and won”and “He’s moved forward, while Joe Biden has held America back.” The remainder of Haley’s speech, such as “We cut taxes; they raised them,” seemed to focus on demonizing the Democrats while praising the Republicans. She claimed that at one time Biden answered to Obama, and now he answers to Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders and “The Squad.” She went on to say that the Democrats’ “vision“ for America is socialism. As “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants,“ Haley stated, “America is not a racist country.“ She concluded on a positive note when she said, “I’ve learned that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America.“
The next speaker, Donald Trump Junior, came on – as George Stephanopoulos so aptly put it – like “an attack dog.” He began by saying, “Just a few short months ago, we were seeing the American dream becoming a reality,” and insisted that his father “attacked the virus with everything he had.” He continued, “Democrats claim to be for workers” when actually they try to cut taxes for the rich. At one point, Trump Junior claimed, “The Chinese Communist Party favors Biden.” He added that his father’s policies “have been like rocket fuel to the economy,“ and went on to claim that Trump had built “the greatest economy our country has ever seen.“
Making a thinly veiled reference to the recently tearing down of Confederate statues, Don Junior promised, ”In order to improve in the future, we will learn from the past.” He added, “If Democrats cared, they’d do exactly what President Trump is doing.”
Monday night‘s final primetime speaker was Senator Tim Scott of North Carolina, who began his speech with, “2020 has treated our nation in ways that we haven’t seen for decades.“ He went on to give some personal background information, including the fact that even though he had failed four subjects his freshman year, his mother ”never lost faith in me, even when I lost faith in myself.” Scott used this example to emphasize the fact that Donald Trump will fight for “a quality education for every student.” Currently the only Black Republican senator, Scott noted that in 1994, Joe Biden had supported a reform bill that put many Black people behind bars. He went on to advise voters not to listen to what Biden says but instead to look at his actions. Scott said, “This election is about your future.”
Following Scott’s speech, commentator Byron Pitts noted, “Tim Scott is their Kamala Harris.”
The second day of the virtual Republican Convention 2020 took place on Tuesday, August 25. The primetime segment of the convention began with a naturalization ceremony that took place in the East Room of the White House. President Trump entered the room to the tune of “Hail to the Chief”. Following the ceremony, President Trump told the five naturalized citizens, “You've now become citizens of the greatest country on the face of this earth.“ A discussion among the commentators (George Stephanopoulos, Sarah Fagan, Chris Christie, etc.) followed, with Fagen noting that she “thought it (i.e., the ceremony) was very effective.” One of the other commentators, however, wondered, “Are people going to forget the things that he said about immigrants?”
Tuesday night’s first primetime speaker was Eric Trump who, referring to Democrats, said “They want to destroy and disrespect the flag and the National Anthem, and they don’t want the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools.” He continued, “ My father pledged to every American that he was going to make America great again,” and went on to say that Trump had kept that promise. “Once again America became the envy of the world,” which he said could be attributed to the fact that President Trump had improved the economy, expanded the military defense budget, built the wall, and fought for school choice. In other words, “Promises were made, and promises for the first time were kept.” “Joe Biden,“ he continued, “has pledged to raise your taxes by $4 million” and wants to defund the police. Trump assured his audience that, “My father will fight for you,” and stated, “I’m proud to show my children what their grandfather is fighting for.”
Following Eric Trump’s speech, George Stephanopoulos noted, “The father’s business is the family’s business.“ He also pointed out the fact that the younger Trump had not brought up the pandemic and concluded, “What we are seeing here are real political speeches.”
Tuesday night‘s second primetime speaker was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who spoke from Jerusalem. He began his speech with, “This President has led bold initiatives in every area of the world,“ and continued, “He will not rest until justice is done.” He also credited the current President with getting “The North Korean leadership to the table,“ making NATO stronger, making it possible for America to build missiles, and wiping out ISIS.
(At some point it was noted that using the Secretary of State or anyone in a similar position to deliver a political speech is prohibited. Martha Radditz had also pointed out that using Marines in uniform for political purposes, as Trump did during the naturalization ceremony, is also prohibited.)
Tuesday’s keynote speaker was First Lady Melanie Trump, who made her entrance by walking down a long corridor which led to the Rose Garden. She began, “Since March, our lives have changed drastically.“ She added that she sends out prayers to all the people who have been touched by COVID-19 and assured her viewers that President Trump “won’t stop fighting“ until a vaccine is found.
Noting that she had grown up under Communist rule in Slovenia, the First Lady explained that as she grew older, her dream was to move to the United States and work in the fashion industry. Addressing her next remarks to her parents, she said, “It is because of you that I am standing here today,” Next, she noted that she had arrived in the United States at the age of twenty-six and became a citizen in 2006. “With hard work and determination,“ she added, ” I was able to achieve my own American dream,” noting, “The past 3 1/2 years have been unforgettable.”
After thanking the military and first responders and their families for their service, Mrs. Trump talked about a little boy who had been waiting for a heart, after which she said, “Helping children is not a political goal. It is a moral imperative.”
The First Lady continued, “We must remember that we are all one community. I urge people to come together” and, among other things, to “stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice.” She also noted that her husband “continues to fight for school choice“ and has focused on addressing opioid addiction and drug abuse.”When the stigma is removed, people will no longer be ashamed to ask for help.”
Then Mrs. Trump delivered a message to the mothers of America: “You are warriors. You have a President who will not stop fighting for you and your family.“ She added, “He welcomes different points of view and encourages thinking outside of the box.” She concluded with, “Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking. He doesn’t waste time playing politics.“
George Stephanopoulos noted that Melania‘s speech “had a tone of quiet defiance.”
The Wednesday primetime segment of the Republican convention opened with a speech given by Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife. She begin with, ”Tonight I come to you simply as an American.” She credited her parents with teaching her that she could achieve anything “with hard work and ambition.” Noting the fact that she never dreamed she would be a part of the Trump family, Ms.Trump said, “ Any preconceived notion I had of this family disappeared immediately. What mattered was the ability to get the job done.”
She went on to say that Donald Trump has always had confidence in her, so she wasn’t surprised when he put so many women in important positions and caused the rate of unemployment for women to hit the lowest level since World War II. “I know the promise of America because I’ve lived it,” she added.
”This is an election that will decide whether we keep America, America” or head down the path of socialism, adding, “Defund the police is the new rallying cry for the radical Democratic Party. Referring to her father-in-law, Lara Trump continued, “He’s a fighter and will never stop fighting for America.” She concluded by saying, “To my father-in-law: thank you for continuing to fight every day for America.”
(Immediately following Laura Trump’s speech, George Stephanopoulos pointed out the fact that Joe Biden had never supported defunding the police.)
Wednesday’s second primetime speaker was Clarence Henderson, a survivor of the historic 1960 sit -in at a Woolworths store in Greensboro,North Carolina to protest racial injustice. Henderson said of the experience that he didn’t know whether or not he would come out alive. “By sitting down to order a cup of coffee, we challenged injustice.” Henderson went on to observe, “The great thing about this country is that it’s not about where you come from; it’s about where you’re going.” He also pointed out that the Republican party has been responsible for passing the 13th Amendment, which abolishEd slavery; the 14th Amendment, which allowed Black men to vote; and the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote to all American citizens. Henderson said, “If you do vote for Biden, you don’t know history,” and added,”Donald Trump truly cares about Black people. His policies show his heart.”
Following Henderson‘s speech, commentator Rahm Emanuel said, “The outside events are impacting the internal rhetoric in this election.“ Referring to the fact that, at the Democratic convention, all living Democratic Presidents spoke, Sarah Fagan noted, “There’s no Bush here. There’s no Romney at this convention.”
Wednesday night‘s keynote speaker was Vice President.Mike Pence, who chose as his setting Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, where Frances Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814. Pence begin his speech with, “Democrats spent four days attacking America,” followed by “America needs four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House.“
(At this point, Pence took a moment to offer encouragement to those in the path of the hurricane that was projected to strike Texas and Louisiana.)
Following his acceptance of the nomination for Vice President, Pence turned to his family and said of his wife, “She is one outstanding second lady of the United States.” He went on to acknowledge his three children and “the person who shaped my life the most: my mom, Nancy.”
The remainder of Pence’s speech consisted of accolades to President Trump, who “does things in his own ways on his own terms.” He continued, “President Donald Trump has kept his word to the American people.”
Pence went on to enumerate various accomplishments of the Trump administration: rebuilding the military; reforming the VA (at which point he turned to the audience and recognized recipients of the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart in addition to a Wounded Warrior and a Gold Star Mother.); improving the economy (When it comes to the economy, President Trump kept his word and then some.“); creating more than 7 million jobs; and lowering the unemployment rate for minorities, which Pence contended was “the lowest level ever recorded.” He also claimed that the unemployment rate for women was at the lowest lt’s been in 65 years.
”We made America great again, “Pence continued, “and then the coronavirus struck,” President Trump “marshalled the full resources of the federal government in all areas,” Including providing more than 800,000 tests a day and 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. Pence went on to assure his audience, “We will have a safe coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.“ He added “In this country we mourn with those who mourn, and we grieve with those who grieve.“ At this point he recognized a nurse and her brother plus a firefighter who were in the audience.
“What Joe doesn’t seem to understand, “Pence continued, “is that America is the nation of miracles.” He added that he and Trump are “not just opening up America again… We’re opening America’s schools.“ (At this point he turned to his wife, Karen, who’s a teacher, and said, “Thank you for being there for our kids.”
”To bring America all the way back,” Pence noted, “we need four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House.” He assured his audience that the Trump administration would support peaceful protests but will never support rioting and looting. “The violence must stop. We will have law and order for every American of every race and creed and color.“ At this point he recognized the sister of Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, who had been killed during the violence in California. “We’ll keep supporting police and African-Americans for four more years.“ He contended that “Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to violence in American cities and pledged that he and Trump would not defund the police “not now, not ever.“
Continuing to attack Joe Biden‘s policies, Pence said, “At the root of their agenda is that America is based on envy, not aspiration.“ He added that the Democratic agenda is rooted in government control, while the Republican agenda is rooted in freedom. He also said that, unlike President Trump, Joe Biden wants to end school choice and also supports taxpayer funding for abortion. “Joe Biden would be nothing more than a Trojan horse for the radical left.“
”Every day President Trump has been working to expand the reach of the American dream. Now it’s our turn to fight for him,” Pence concluded, “That Star-Spangled Banner still waves over ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave‘ We will make America great again… Again,“ he promised.
Following Pence’s speech, George Stephanopoulos commented that he felt the speech clearly had been A defense of Trump and an attack on Biden. Chris Christie offered, “I think Mike Pence checked the box tonight.“ Sara Fagen agreed: “I think it was a great speech.“ Is that Yvette Simpson responded, “He’s talking to a very small group of Americans.“ George Stephanopoulos ended thenight with, “They got the pageantry they wanted tonight.”
The final primetime segment of the Republican convention begin with Ivanka Trump addressing “everyone affected by hurricane Laura.” She offered assurance that President Trump would help.
” Tonight I stand before you as the proud daughter of the people’s President ,“ Ivanka stated. “I want to tell you the story of the President who is working for you from dawn to midnight.” She continued, “Donald Trump came to Washington for one reason and one reason alone: to make America great again. Whether you agree with him or not, you always know where he stands.”
At one point, Ivanka gave a shout -out to the many essential workers who had devoted countless hours during the Covid pandemic and offered compassion to its victims. She went on to note that all the good things that her father had nurtured, such as the thriving economy, had to be shut down “to save American lives,” and added, “Donald Trump believes that nothing is beyond our reach, and that the best is yet to come.“
Ivanka Trump went onto a enumerate some of the many things her father has done for this country. For one thing, she noted, “He has a deep compassion for those who have been treated unfairly.“ For another, she said that he personifies the American values of work and family. She added, “Last year, over 70% of all new jobs were secured by women,“ he increased the child tax credit, cut the cost of prescription drugs, made the first peace agreement in the Middle East in a quarter of a century, and signed nine pieces of legislation against human trafficking.
Ivanka concluded her tribute to her father with, “We have a President who has called out Washington hypocrisy, and they hate him for that. Washington has not changed Donald Trump. Donald Trump has changed Washington. America needs four more years of a warrior in the White House.”
Of course, the featured speaker of the last day of the Republican Convention was President Donald Trump himself, who spent seventy minutes maligning the Democrats while pointing out all the good things that he had done for our country.
President Trump begin his speech by noting his support for the people who have been hit by Hurricane Laura. He went on to thank Melania, Ivanka, “all of my children and grandchildren,” and Vice President Mike Pence. He also mentioned his recently deceased brother, Robert.
After noting quite a few people and events that played a major role in forging American history (army generals, explorers like Lewis and Clark, Abraham Lincoln, Pearl Harbor, etc.) President Trump went on to address the current pandemic. “We will defeat the virus and the pandemic and emerge stronger than ever before,” he said. He assured his listeners that there will be a vaccine by the end of the year, possibly sooner.
”The election will decide whether we secure the American dream” or allow socialism to take over, send jobs overseas, and give free reign to the violence that threatens our cities. Trump continued, “How can the Democratic Party ask to lead our country when it’s spent so much time tearing down our country?” Focusing on Joe Biden in particular, he said, “Joe Biden is the destroyer of American jobs, he voted to send our jobs to China,” and he sent America’s young people to fight in foreign wars.
Trump went on to describe the strides his administration has made in the past four years, such as building “the strongest economy in the history of the world,” taking “the boldest action against China in American history,” deporting gang members and “criminal aliens,” securing America’s borders, and taking down human traffickers. He added that his administration was responsible for both prison reform and justice reform, and claimed that he has “done more for Blacks than anyone since Lincoln, and more than Biden’s done in 47 years.“
At that point, President Trump shifted his focus back to China and blamed that country for not stopping the COVID-19 virus. He assured his listeners that if Joe Biden were elected, China would take over.
Returning to the subject of COVID-19, Trump claimed that we have provided 40 million more tests than the next closest nation, have come up with something he referred to as “convalescent plasma“, and “The numbers have been reduced by 80% since April.“ He also credited him himself with providing, “the largest package of financial relief in American history.” He said that our country is “recovering at a much faster rate than anybody” and that “We have three different vaccines in the final stage of trials.”
President Trump went on to say that he would cut taxes even further and bring jobs back from overseas to America. “Joe Biden’s agenda is ‘Made in China.’ My agenda is ’Made in the USA’.” He added, “How can Joe Biden claim to be an ally of the light, when his own party can’t manage to keep the lights on?“ He went on to claim that Biden said he was going to give healthcare money to illegal immigrants and had promised to increase refugee admissions. “He’s even talking about taking the wall down”
Trump noted that he plans to expand charter schools and provide school choice. He stressed the fact that Joe Biden is ok with late-term abortions and, echoing Vice President Pence’s Trojan horse analogy, said, “Biden is a Trojan horse for socialism.“ Thanks to what he termed the ‘Biden/Bernie Manifesto, Trump claimed, “4000 criminals will be released to roam the streets, and police departments will be defunded, while he (Trump) pledged to “always stand with the men and women of law enforcement.” At this point, the President recognized three children whose mother, a police detective, had been murdered. “We have to give law-enforcement back their power. We can never allow mob rule.“
He went on to claim that many of the Democrat-run cities are dangerous, at which point he recognized the family of David Dorn, another police officer who had been killedIn the line of duty. “The top 10 most dangerous cities in the country are run by Democrats,” Trump asserted.
President Trump went on to pledge that, if he is reelected, there will be 10 million jobs in the next 10 months; sanctuary cities would be banned; there would be healthcare for American citizens and not illegal aliens; he would keep us out of costly, foreign wars, defend the Second Amendment, protect Medicare and Social Security, reduce the cost of drugs and health insurance, put the first woman on the moon and the first flag on Mars.
The President concluded with, “America is the greatest and most exceptional nation in the history of the world. Together we are unbeatable because we are the proud citizens of the United States of America.“
With that, a fireworks display reminiscent of “The rockets‘ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” punctuated the end of the Republican convention.
Commentator Chris Christie said he felt that “backward-looking stuff“ in President Trump’s speech hadn’t dome any good. Sarah Fagan noted, ”Conservatives loved this speech.” Chief moderator George Stephanopoulos signed off, and, with that, the virtual nominating conventions of 2020 came to an end. Now all that remains is ...the election. Stay tuned.