WASHINGTON — Driving President Donald Trump’s “law and order” message, the third night of the Republican convention Wednesday praised law enforcement against the backdrop of protests sparked by a police officer shooting a Black man in Wisconsin.
“Joe Biden said we were living through a ‘season of American darkness,'” Vice President Mike Pence, accepting his party’s nomination from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md. “But as President Trump said, ‘where Joe Biden sees American darkness, we see American greatness.'”
Pence is expect to continue the pro-police theme.
“Under President Trump, we will stand with those who stand on the Thin Blue Line, and we’re not going to defund the police — not now, not ever,” Pence is expected to say in his acceptance speech, according to prepared remarks. “The hard truth is, you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
Speakers throughout the night cast Democrats as fueling riots and opposing law enforcement, a message Trump has hammered in an effort to drum up fear of his Democratic rival Biden.
“From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York — Democrat run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction and murder,” said South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. “People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t, good, hard working Americans, are left to fend for themselves.”
Violent crime is up in cities around the country, including ones run by Republicans.
Wednesday night’s focus on the military and law enforcement comes against the backdrop of turmoil in Wisconsin, where there have been protests in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man.
Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old, was arrested in connection to a fatal shooting at the protests Tuesday night. A Tik Tok video that appeared to show scenes from a Trump rally in January was posted to an account associated with Rittenhouse. In CSPAN footage of the event, Rittenhouse appears to be standing in the front row next to the stage.
Follow the latest from the Republican National Convention in our RNC live blog.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said that the president “has repeatedly and consistently condemned all forms of violence,” adding that Rittenhouse “had nothing to do with our campaign and we fully support our fantastic law enforcement for their swift action in this case.”
Murtaugh told reporters that Trump had been briefed on a video of Blake being shot by a police officer. Trump tweeted earlier Wednesday he would send federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Wisconsin to “restore LAW and ORDER!”
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn thanked first responders working to fight the coronavirus pandemic, then pivoted to talk about “another kind of hero.”
“The kind Democrats don’t recognize because they don’t fit into their narrative. I’m talking about the heroes of our law enforcement and armed services. Leftists try to turn them into villains. They want to cancel them. But I’m here to tell you these heroes can’t be canceled,” she said.
Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL officer, defined “heroism” in his speech as “grace, not perpetual outrage.”
“Heroism is rebuilding our communities, not destroying them. Heroism is renewing faith in the symbols that unite us not tearing them down,” he said.
Republican women were also a focus Wednesday night in a direct appeal to a group of voters that have grown increasingly uneasy with the Trump presidency.
“I have a 9-month-old daughter. She’s a beautiful, sweet little girl. And I choose to work for this president for her,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who shared the story of her decision to get a preventative mastectomy.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway criticized Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as a running mate, saying “a woman in a leadership role still can seem novel. Not so for President Trump.”
“For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men,” Conway said.
Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, said she saw “first-hand the countless women executives who thrived” at the Trump Organization.
“Gender didn’t matter, what mattered was someone’s ability to get the job done.”
Download the NBC News app for alerts and all the latest on the Republican convention.
Second lady Karen Pence, Lara Trump and Conway all made references to the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted white women the right to vote.
The convention will also continue a trend from the prior two nights of making a direct appeal to Black voters.
“I know what racism looks like, I’ve seen it first hand. And America, it has no resemblance to President Trump,” said Jack Brewer, a former NFL player.