WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will focus his Republican National Convention speech Thursday on attacking Joe Biden, painting his time in office as economic success at risk of being derailed by Democrats, according to excerpts of his address.
“At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas,” Trump is expected to say, according to excerpts of the speech from his campaign.
“We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years. 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 accepts his party’s nomination to be re-elected trailing his Democratic rival Biden in the polls. Facing criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has also devastated the economy, Trump is leading an America roiled by national protests against racial injustice, with the latest wave originating in Kenosha, Wisconsin after police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man.
The tensions continued to rise this week when two protesters were killed in Kenosha. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was arrested Wednesday and charged with homicide in connection to the shooting.
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Trump is expected to address the protests in Kenosha and other cities, but the campaign would not say whether the president will explicitly discuss Blake’s shooting. Republicans have amplified their “law and order” message throughout the convention, warning of violence and chaos under Democratic leadership.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., kicked off the final night of the RNC calling Democrats “socialists.”
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“They will dismantle our institutions to fund our police and destroy our economy,” McCarthy said. “The choice before you could not be clearer: Forward in freedom, or backward in socialism. Forward in prosperity, or backward in poverty.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani are also expected to speak.
Throughout the week Republicans have tried appealing directly to Black and minority voters by arguing that Democrats have failed to address their needs and taken their votes for granted.
Alice Johnson, a Black woman whose life sentence was commuted by Trump after more than two decades in prison, will speak to Trump’s work on criminal justice reform, according to the campaign.
“When President Trump heard about me — about the injustice of my story — he saw me as a person. He had compassion. And he acted,” Johnson is expected to say, according to prepared remarks.
Ann Dorn, whose husband was a Black man and police officer killed during Black Lives Matter protests in St. Louis, will also speak.
“I re-live that horror in my mind every single day,” Dorn is expected to say. “My hope is that having you re-live it with me now will help shake this country from the nightmare we are witnessing in our cities and bring about positive, peaceful change.”
Ja’Ron Smith, deputy assistant to the president, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, both Black men, are expected to discuss Trump’s work for the Black community.
Trump will give his speech from the White House South Lawn, drawing criticism from political opponents and government watchdogs who say he is misusing his presidential platform for political purposes. Trump has raised eyebrows throughout the week over his use of government tools to make his case for re-election.
Some have also warned that members of the Trump administration could be at risk of violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in certain political activities. The president and vice president are exempt from the law, but other White House employees are not.
Ivanka Trump will introduce her father Thursday evening to a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters. It is unclear if Thursday night’s attendees will be tested for the coronavirus prior to entering the White House grounds.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told reporters that the campaign had contracted a firm of experts to advise on appropriate precautions for all portions of the convention that have live audiences.
Trump’s acceptance speech will be followed by a fireworks show near the Washington Monument, across the street from the White House complex.
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Murtaugh said Trump would make the case Thursday night that Biden is an “empty shell of a candidate” and “a Trojan horse” controlled by the far-left of the party.
Murtaugh also said that viewers could expect Trump to share a more uplifting and optimistic view of the country — a perspective that the campaign argued was absent from last week’s Democratic convention.
“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,” the president is expected to say. “This towering American spirit has prevailed over every challenge, and lifted us to the summit of human endeavor.”