WASHINGTON – Republicans spent the third night of their convention promoting their law-and-order agenda and trying to appeal to women voters whom President Donald Trump will need to win reelection.
They showcased military veterans, national security officials, and police officers talking about how Republicans love the country by embracing its heroes. The speakers accused Democrats of allowing chaos and unrest in the name of racial justice.
“Democrats spent four days attacking America,” Vice President Mike Pence said during his speech at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, referring to the Democratic convention last week. “Joe Biden said we were living through a “season of American darkness. But as President Trump said, ‘where Joe Biden sees American darkness, we see American greatness.'”
The evening also revolved around women who said Trump had empowered them. Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany and the president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump shared personal stories, describing Trump as compassionate and someone who supported them.
“They made me feel like I was home,” said Lara Trump as she laid out her connection to the family after she married Trump’s son, Eric. “Walking the halls of the Trump Organization, I saw the same family environment. I also saw the countless women executives who thrived there, year after year. Gender didn’t matter. What mattered was the ability to get the job done.”
Here are key takeaways from Wednesday night:
Pence: Election will determine if ‘American remains America’
Vice President Mike Pence slammed Joe Biden, saying the Democratic presidential nominee’s proposals would leave Americans unsafe and vulnerable, calling him “a Trojan Horse for the radical left.”
“President Donald Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest, but rioting and looting is not peaceful protest, tearing down statues is not free speech, and those who do so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Pence said.
“Last week, Joe Biden didn’t say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country, so let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha,” Pence said.
He added: “We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”
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While touting Trump’s work on the economy, military, international trade deals and performance during the coronavirus pandemic, Pence compared that to Biden, who he dubbed a “cheerleader for communist China,” claiming Biden would allow “open borders,” supports “taxpayer funding of abortion” and would back cutting funds to law enforcement agencies.
“The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. Under President Trump, we will always stand with those who stand on the Thin Blue Line, and we’re not going to defund the police – not now, not ever,” Pence said. “Last week, Joe Biden said democracy is on the ballot, and the truth is our economic recovery is on the ballot, law and order are on the ballot.”
He claimed that the election would be a “crossroads” for the country, explaining “the choice in this election is whether America remains America.”
The country has been wracked by strife and division since the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police. The incident sparked national protests over police brutality and racial injustice in numerous communities and prompted efforts – so far, unsuccessful – in Congress to implement policing reforms.
The latest incident took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin when police shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, multiple times in the back and left him paralyzed, sparking further unrest.
Kellyanne Conway: Trump helped me ‘shatter a barrier’ in politics
Kellyanne Conway, one of the president’s longest-serving advisers, credited Trump with having helped her “shatter a barrier in the role of politics” with her role in 2016 as his campaign manager.
Conway, who announced this week she was leaving the White House to focus on her family, has been one of Trump’s most visible aides but did not discuss her departure in her remarks. Instead, she focused on women, a theme throughout the Republican convention to appeal to more women – a demographic that polls have shown has veered away from Trump.
“For many of us, women’s empowerment is not a slogan. It comes not from strangers on social media or sanitized language in a corporate handbook. It comes from the everyday heroes who nurture us, who shape us, and who believe in us,” she said.
Conway also talked about Trump’s interactions with families who have suffered amid the opioid crisis.
“He picks the toughest fights and tackles the most complex problems. He has stood by me. And he will stand up for you,” she said.
‘You think he should just take that sitting down?’:Kellyanne Conway defends Trump in feud with husband
Kellyanne Conway’s husband, conservative attorney George Conway, has been one of Trump’s fiercest critics and is a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans that is working to defeat the president. At the same time Kellyanne Conway announced she was leaving her White House role, George Conway said was going to step away from his role with the Lincoln Project.
George Conway’s public feuds with Trump and Kellyanne Conway’s high-profile role have put the couple in the spotlight.
Their 15-year-old daughter Claudia has made waves on social media over the past few months with her left-leaning views in TikTok videos and posts about her parents. She tweeted last week she was seeking a legal emancipation from her parents.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany gets personal
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany gave a more personal speech in her convention appearance, praising Trump’s support when she had a preventive mastectomy and then a baby shortly afterward.
A former campaign spokeswoman who became White House press secretary this year, McEnany has spoken openly about the genetic mutation that made her vulnerable to breast cancer. She spoke in her speech about the preventative mastectomy she had on May 1, 2018.
“As I came out of anesthesia, one of the first calls I received was from Ivanka Trump. As I recovered, my phone rang again. It was President Trump calling to check on me. I was blown away. Here was the leader of the free world, caring about my circumstance,” McEnany said.
McEnany, who has spoken at political rallies and urged women to support Trump, now has a daughter who is nine months old.
Choosing a preventative mastectomy was “the hardest decision” she has made, McEnany said, but supporting Trump “was the easiest.”
“I want my daughter to grow up in President Donald Trump’s America,” McEnany said.
Joni Ernst, Kristi Noem slam ‘Democrat-run cities’ and ‘coastal elites’
Powerful women from the Midwest played a starring role Wednesday night, with Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem taking the podium.
Ernst, one of the few endangered Republican lawmakers who had a speaking role at the convention, highlighted the president’s work on agriculture and his trade deals and described what the future could look like under Democrats. Many fellow senators who are running close races in states like Maine, Colorado, Montana and North Carolina have maintained a distance from the convention and even the president in recent months as Trump’s approval ratings have sagged.
“Folks, this election is a choice between two very different paths,” Ernst said. “Freedom, prosperity, and economic growth, under a Trump-Pence administration. Or, the Biden-Harris path. Paved by liberal coastal elites and radical environmentalists. An America where farmers are punished, jobs are destroyed, and taxes crush the middle class.”
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Noem, who has become a high-profile ally of the president in recent months and emceed Trump’s July 4th celebration last month at Mount Rushmore, pulled no punches in attacking Biden and Democrats.
“From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs,” Noem said. “The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder. People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t – good, hard-working Americans – are left to fend for themselves.”
GOP assembles lineup of police officers to highlight heroes
The message throughout the convention Wednesday night was clear: Republicans honor heroes like police officers, veterans, and nurses while Democrats … do not.
“Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and their radical allies try to destroy these heroes, because if there are no heroes to inspire us – government can control us,” Tennessee GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn said. “You will never cancel our heroes.”
Wednesday’s lineup of speakers included Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw (a decorated former SEAL), Ret. Army Gen. Keith Kellogg (Pence’s National Security Advisor), the head of the National Association of Police Organizations, and New York Rep. Lee Zeldin who delivered his remarks from a local VFW lodge.
While some speakers spent much of their air time denouncing Biden as anti-military (despite having a son as an Army officer), others like Crenshaw opted for a less combative approach by saying America was full of heroes.
“It’s the nurse who volunteers for back to back shifts caring for COVID patients because she feels that’s her duty,” he said. “It’s the parent who will re-learn algebra because there’s no way they’re letting their kid fall behind while schools are closed. And it’s the cop that gets spit on one day and will save a child’s life the next.”
And second lady Karen Pence, the mother of a Marine, highlighted military families who sacrifice continuously.
“Military spouses may experience frequent moves, job changes, periods of being a single parent while their loved one is deployed – all while exhibiting pride, strength, and determination and being a part of something bigger than themselves,” Pence said. “To all of the military spouses, thank you.”
Trump has touted his support for the military but he’s also drawn bipartisan fire for trying to undermine the NATO alliance and for pulling troops out of Syria, a move that prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis. And his decision to grant clemency last year to three controversial military figures facing charges of war crimes was controversial within the armed forces.
Nun, coach question Biden’s Catholicism
Sister Dede Byrne, who served in the Army as a surgeon in Afghanistan and Egypt, said Trump was the biggest opponent of abortion in the country’s history. She contrasted that by calling Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the most ardent supporters of abortion rights – ever.
“As a physician, I can say unequivocally life begins at conception,” said Byrne, who called the rosary her “weapon” of choice. “While what I have to say may be difficult for some to hear, I am saying it because I’m not just pro-life, I’m pro-eternal life and I want us all to end up in heaven someday together.”
One in five voters in 2016 were Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center. More than half (52%) voted for President Donald Trump while 44% voted for Hillary Clinton.
In a June Pew Research Center survey, 52% of all Catholics supported Biden’s candidacy although Trump was still carrying white Catholics.
In October, a Catholic priest in South Carolina said he had denied Holy Communion to Biden because of the candidate’s views on abortion.
Biden has dropped his longstanding support for the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding for abortion in most cases.
Lou Holtz, a former college football coach at Notre Dame University, also hit Biden on abortion and said he was among politicians who are “Catholic in name only.” Holtz said one of the key questions he considers in supporting a candidate is whether he deserves trust.
“I trust President Trump,” Holtz said, because “nobody has been a stronger advocate for the unborn than President Trump.”
Holtz said he couldn’t say the same about Biden.