WASHINGTON — It’s Vice-President Mike Pence’s turn to take the stage at the Republican National Convention, where Donald Trump’s allies, friends and family members have spent the week putting a positive sheen on the president’s first term.
Pence will formally accept the party’s nomination as the candidate for vice-president, and set the stage for Trump’s big-finish speech Thursday from the south lawn of the White House.
Other speakers tonight include senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who is leaving the White House at the end of the month, and Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn.
A devout Catholic, Pence and wife Karen are expected to carry the evangelical banner into Day 3 of the convention, touting Trump as the best choice for Americans who consider themselves social conservatives.
Democrats seized on the opportunity, deploying the openly gay Pete Buttigieg, one of Joe Biden’s former presidential rivals, in a fundraising missive denouncing Pence’s “divisive, anti-LGBTQ politics” and “archaic worldview.”
As head of the White House coronavirus force, Pence is also likely to address an issue that has so far received relatively scant attention from convention speakers: the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, economic adviser Larry Kudlow spoke of the crisis in the past tense, even though the pandemic continues to rage across the U.S., while only first lady Melania Trump expressed any empathy for the more than 178,000 Americans killed by the virus to date.
“My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one, and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering,” she said. “I know many people are anxious, and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone.”
Kudlow, meanwhile, framed the novel coronavirus as ancient history in the U.S.
“It was awful — health and economic impacts were tragic, hardship and heartbreak were everywhere,” Kudlow said. “But presidential leadership came swiftly and effectively, with an extraordinary rescue for health and safety to successfully fight the COVID virus.”
Of the racial unrest roiling the country — fuelled this week by another police shooting of an unarmed Black man, this time in Wisconsin — Melania Trump urged protesters to channel their furious energy into positive change, not wanton destruction. She also resisted the urge to “divide the country further” by beating up on Democrats.
But she raised eyebrows by framing her husband, notorious for playing fast and loose with the truth, as an honest and authentic human being.
“Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president,” she said. “Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking.”
Trump has been putting the power of the presidency under a brazen partisan spotlight, and did so again Tuesday, pardoning a convicted bank robber who now helps prisoners reintegrate into society and presiding over a naturalization ceremony for five new American citizens. His wife’s speech was delivered from the White House Rose Garden.
And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s pre-taped speech from a Jerusalem rooftop, coming in the middle of a diplomatic mission, did not escape the attention of some members of Congress. Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is accusing Pompeo of violating federal law by mixing government business with partisan interests.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2020.
The Canadian Press