President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans opened their national convention on Monday by painting a dire portrait of America if Democrat Joe Biden wins the White House in November, arguing he will usher in an era of radical socialism.
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Trump set the tone early in the day when he addressed Republican delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina, after formally securing the party's nomination for another term, and claimed without evidence that Democrats were trying to steal the election.
Republicans had vowed to offer an inspiring, positive message in contrast to what they characterized as a dark and gloomy Democratic convention last week. But the first night's prime-time program featured speakers who peppered their remarks with ominous predictions if Democrats win power.
"They'll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door," U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, one of Trump's staunchest backers in Congress, said, referring to an international criminal gang.
The four-day convention got under way at a critical juncture for Trump, who trails Biden in national opinion polls during a pandemic that has killed more than 176,000 Americans, erased millions of jobs and eroded the president's standing with voters.
Trump has focused on a "law and order" message in response to widespread protests following the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, and he has pushed schools and businesses to reopen despite the pandemic. Both messages represent the campaign's effort to win back suburban voters, especially women, who have abandoned the Republican Party in droves during the Trump era.
Donald Trump Jr., the president's oldest son, portrayed the ongoing civil unrest as violent assaults on small businesses by anarchists and said Democrats would fail to keep neighborhoods safe.
The nomination of Trump as the official presidential candidate at US Republican convention
The convention's opening night also laid out what promises to be a central theme of the week: that Biden, a former vice president, and his running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, will merely be puppets of radical left-wing activists.
Multiple speakers accused Biden of wanting to defund the police and ban fracking, though he has rejected both positions.
Another frenetic day for Trump threatened to overshadow his attempt to recalibrate the campaign, however. In Washington, congressional Democrats examined U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor, over whether he was deliberately sabotaging mail service to harm voting by mail, while one of Trump's closest advisers, Kellyanne Conway, prepared to depart the White House.
The New York attorney general's investigation into Trump's family business deepened on Monday, while the National Guard was deployed in Wisconsin following unrest after a Black man was shot in the back by police.
A Reuters investigation revealed a sex scandal involving evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., a high-profile Trump supporter, whose tenure at the Christian university he runs appeared in limbo.
Trump on the attack
Earlier in the day, the president repeated his assertion that voting by mail, a long-standing feature of American elections expected to be far more common during the coronavirus pandemic, will lead to widespread fraud. Independent election security experts say voter fraud is extraordinarily rare in the United States.
As he has done repeatedly, Trump described states' responses to infections of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in starkly partisan terms, casting lockdowns and other steps recommended by public health officials as attempts to influence voting in November.
"What they're doing is using COVID to steal an election," Trump said. "They're using COVID to defraud the American people – all of our people – of a fair and free election."
During the prime-time program, the party aired a video praising Trump for his handling of the pandemic, after Democrats spent much of their convention attacking his administration for an uneven response. Medical professionals and Read More – Source