Vice President Mike Pence issued a stark warning about Joe Biden in his Republican convention speech Wednesday, saying the country ‘won’t be safe’ in Biden’s America.
It was one of many rhetorical bombs Pence lobbed as Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent at an outdoor speech at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, where crowd members seated in spaced folding chairs called out for ‘four more years!’
Pence hailed Trump in a prime time speech as someone who ‘does things his own way’ as he accepted the Republican nomination for vice president where he wove together stories of patriotism with scathing attacks on Biden and Democrats.
Pence alternately praised Trump for his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, and blasted the Democratic nominee for stressing a season of ‘darkness’ at his party’s convention last week.
‘Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to violence in America’s cities. The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,’ Pence warned, after calling for ‘law and order’ on the streets.
‘And 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.’
Convention organizers constructed a colorful patriotic backdrop at the historic fort, amid unfolding events in Kenosha, Wisconsin that intruded, following a white police officer’s shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man. Hours before Pence spoke, police arrested Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, and charged him with first degree intentional homicide in connection with a shooting that happened amid protests over the Blake incident, leaving two dead and one injured
Rittenhouse was a white Trump supporter who crossed from Illinois to Wisconsin with his long gun and seemed to co-ordinate with militias before the deadly shootings. He had been pictured in February at a Trump rally in Iowa.
But Pence made no reference to that, nor to the extraordinary boycott of the NBA playoffs in protest at the shooting of Blake. It was started by the Milwaukee Bucks, then spread on Wednesday night with LeBron James tweeting ‘f*** this,’ reportedly calling for a full-scale boycott and Barack Obama congratulating the teams on speaking out. MLB, NLS and WNBA teams also called off games in solidarity.
Pence, who heads the president’s coronavirus task force amid the pandemic that has seen more than 5 million Americans die of COVID-19, acknowledged those killed or harmed by the virus in his speech.
‘We’re finding our way forward again,’ Pence said. ‘In this country we mourn with those who mourn and we grieve with those who grieve,’ he continued, eschewing the president’s favored term: ‘China virus.’
Pence called it a ‘time of testing’ for the nation.
‘In the midst of this global pandemic, just as our nation had begun to recover, we’ve seen violence and chaos in the streets of our major cities,’ he said.
‘President 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,’ he said.
‘But rioting and looting is not peaceful protest,’ Pence said.
He claimed Biden would send the nation on a ‘path of socialism and decline.’
Pence spoke to Trump’s strength and character, while acknowledging Trump’s unpredictability, after Democratic speakers called him unfit for office.
‘He does things in his own way, on his own terms. Not much gets passed him,’ Pence said. ‘And when he has an opinion, he’s liable to share it. He’s certainly kept things interesting. But more importantly President Donald Trump has kept his word to the American people.
He blasted Biden for the tone of the Democratic convention, which he characterized as bleak.
‘Joe Biden said that we were living though a season of darkness,’ Pence said.
‘But as President Trump, said where Joe Biden sees American darkness we see American greatness.’
The former two-term Indiana governor and six-term congressman also called Biden, who spent four decades in the Senate, a ‘career politician.’
In outdoor remarks in Baltimore – a city Trump called ‘a disgusting rat and rodent infested mess’ during a spat with the late Rep. Elijah Cummings last year – Pence spoke to a crowd that included Meal of Honor winners, Purple Heart recipients, and a Gold Star mother, as well as the family of a fallen police officer.
‘In these challenging times our country needs a president who believes in America,’ Pence said. ‘America needs four more years of president Donald Trump in the White House.’
Pence told the crowd as he accepted his nomination: ‘I humbly accept your nomination to run and serve as vice president of the United States.’
Backed by flags at the fort where Francis Scott Key penned the poem that became the National Anthem, Pence repeatedly talked up patriotism and national heritage, hours after shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
‘Let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha,’ Pence said. ‘Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.
During his law and order speech, Pence mentioned Department of Homeland Security agent Dave Patrick Underwood, who was killed amid protests in California.
‘He was shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, California,’ said Pence. ‘Dave’s heroism is emblematic of the heroes that serve in blue every day.’
What he did not mention was that Underwood was not killed by protesters. Authorities have charged a suspect affiliated with the boogaloo boys, the Washington Post reported, a fringe group whose adherents say they want to start a race war.
Speaking at a virtual convention that flashed repeated night-time images of monuments and statues in Washington D.C., Pence said those who topple them would be prosecuted to the ‘fullest extent.’
‘If you want a president who falls silent when our heritage is demeaned or insulted, he’s not your man,’ he said.
But he did stop short of mentioning Confederate monuments, which the president has repeatedly said have to be preserved.
He also blasted Biden for saying at the Democratic convention that no miracle is coming – part of the Democratic convention’s repeated attacks on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.
‘Last week Joe Biden said that no miracle is coming. Well what Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles,’ said Pence, who Trump picked in part due to his support among evangelical voters.
‘And I’m proud to report that we are on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year,’ he said.
He also painted a rosy economic picture, saying that the country had ‘gained back 9.3 million jobs,’ omitting the actual unemployment figure of more than 11 million, and the uptick in new jobless claims last week.
Pence also backed reopening schools saying his wife would be returning to the classroom.
In contrast Barron Trump’s school is not reopening.
‘Because of the strong foundation that President Trump poured in our first three years, we’ve already gained back 9.3 million jobs over the last three months,’ he said.
‘And we’re not just opening up America again—we’re re-opening America’s schools. I’m proud to report that my wife Karen, a lifelong school teacher, will be returning to her classroom next week.’
Pence presented the election as an all-or-nothing choice about the American future.
‘Last week, Joe Biden said democracy is on the ballot but the truth is, our economic recovery is on the ballot, law and order is on the ballot. But so are things far more fundamental and foundational to our country,’ Pence claimed.
‘It’s not so much whether America will be more conservative or more liberal, more Republican or more Democrat. The choice in this election is whether America remains America.
‘It’s whether we will leave to our children and our grandchildren a country grounded in our highest ideals of freedom, free markets, and the unalienable right to life and liberty — or whether we will leave to our children and grandchildren a country that is fundamentally transformed into something else.’
He described the Trump vision as ‘freedom and opportunity’ in an attempt to offer a positive vision after a dark version of ‘Biden’s America,’ a section of his speech which did not acknowledge that the violence he described happened during his and Trump’s administration.
When he concluded his remarks, Pence said: ‘And with President Donald Trump in the White House for four more years and with God’s help, we will make America great again again.’
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flew to the event to join Pence on stage and chat with supporters, keeping a few feet away and avoiding the handshakes and hugs of conventions past due to the coronavirus ravaging the nation.
Then country singer Trace Adkins sang ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ whose lyrics recount the British bombardment and waving flag at the fort during the War of 1812.
But at that point social distancing was abandoned, with the crowd rushing to get close to the Trumps and the Pences as they left the stage and came down to the front of the audience.
Among those at the front were wounded veterans, some of whom Pence fist-bumped and chatted with.
The president and first lady posed for selfies – a rare spontaneous engagement for Mrs. Trump, and the second day in a row she has been with her husband.
Republicans forged ahead with a tough law and order message on the third day of their nominating convention Wednesday – accusing Joe Biden and Democrats of promoting looting and chaos even as the nation grappled with yet another police shooting and its violent aftermath.
The virtual convention kicked off in Washington, D.C. with dark warnings form South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who said Democratic-run cities ‘are being overrun by violent mobs.’
‘There’s looting, chaos, destruction and murder. People who can afford to flee have fled,’ she said.
Another early speaker, GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, celebrated police and firefighters – who she said don’t fit into the narrative of leftists.
‘Leftists try to turn them into villains. They want to cancel them. But I’m here to tell you these heroes can’t be cancelled,’ she said.
Michael McHale, who heads the National Association of Police Unions, called the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket ‘the most radical anti-police ticket in history.’
He called for ‘aggressive federal prosecution of those who attack our police officers,’ and said good police officers ‘need to know their elected leaders and the department brass have their backs.’
‘Unfortunately, chaos results when failed officials in cities like Portland, Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York, make the conscious decision not to support law enforcement,’ he said. ‘Shootings, murders, looting and rioting occur unabated.’
The start of the convention featured those and other attacks as the tense situation in Kenosha, Wisconsin continued to unfold, after a police officer shot Jacob Blake, a black man and father of three, in the back multiple times Sunday. The tensions spread to sports, with the Milwaukee Bucks boycotting NBA playoffs in a show of support, followed by LeBron James leading the LA Lakers to boycott the entire season.
Blake, 29, was shot and paralyzed from the waist down by police who were responding to a dispute at the scene on Sunday evening, sparking national outrage and heated protests decrying police brutality.
The incident took on a tense and familiar rout, as Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets in outrage, and armed vigilantes staked out territory.
Hours before the start of the convention Wednesday, police announced the arrest of 17-year old Kyle Rittenhouse as the man in connection in the shooting that left two dead and one seriously wounded.
Soon, Rittenhouse was identified as identifying as occupying a front-row seat just feet form the president at a Trump rally in Iowa in January.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, one of the convention speakers, downplayed the sighting in comments to reporters shortly before her speech.
‘We’re not responsible for the private conduct of people at our rallies any more than … all the crazy people who have been involved with the Obama-Biden campaigns or other things,’ she said.
In stunning response, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott their scheduled playoff basketball game in protest, and the NBA and Major League Baseball soon postponed games altogether.
The attacks on Biden came even after he hours earlier issued a statement where he condemned ‘needless violence’ after the violence and fires of Tuesday night.
‘Protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary, but burning down communities is not protest, it’s needless violence,’ Biden said. ‘Violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses and shutters businesses that serve the community, that’s wrong.’
He also said what he saw in the video of the shooting of Jacob Blake ‘makes me sick.’
‘Once again a black man, Jacob Blake, has been shot by the police in broad daylight with the whole world watching,’ Biden said.
At the convention, Noem, the second-term governor and GOP rising star, opened the third night of the Republican National Convention by bashing Biden for prompting a Democratic agenda she claims promotes looting and chaos.
‘It took 244 years to build this great nation – flaws and all – but we stand to lose it in a tiny fraction of that time if we continue down the path taken by the Democrats and their radical supporters,’ Governor Kristi Noem said in reference to widespread protests and riots linked to the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs,’ Noem continued. ‘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.’
The opening video of the third night, voiced again by actor Jon Voight, flashed clips of Black Lives Matter protesters rioting in the streets and attempting to tear down historical statues and monuments with chains.
In the hours preceding Noem’s speech, Biden put out a video on Twitter condemning the violence that had occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
‘Protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary, but burning down communities is not protest, it’s needless violence,’ Biden said. ‘Violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses and shutters businesses that serve the community, that’s wrong,’ he added.
Jack Brewer, a former Philadelphia Eagles player who is being investigated for insider trading, took shots at the Black Lives Matter movement and defended Trump.
‘Are we so offended by the president’s campaign slogan … that we’re going to ignore that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have collectively been responsible for locking up countless black men for non-violent crimes?’ he asked.
He asked how people could ignore that the Black Lives Matter ‘openly on their web site calls for the destruction of the nuclear family.’
A line on the blacklivesmatter.com web site states: ‘We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.’
Noem claimed of the rioting, ‘our founding principles are under attack.’
‘This year, the choice for Americans is between a man who values these ideals and all that can be built because of them, and a man who isn’t guided by these ideals and coincidentally, has built nothing,’ she said.
‘History chooses its heroes for the time in which they live,’ Noem concluded. ‘But, there is another American hero to be recognized. That is the common American. This is who President Trump is fighting for. He’s fighting for you.’
The video kicking off the night set the tone by lauding the ‘extraordinary American spirit,’ while condemning those they claim are out to undermine that – including Black Lives Matter protesters
‘The spirit of heroism thrives in the precedence of tyranny, disaster – it is stronger than any violence,’ Voight narrated as images and clips of revolutions and disasters flashed on screen, such as the Underground Railroad, the storming of the beaches of Normandy and first responders carrying people from the World Trade Center on 9/11.
The mood shifted as images of recent protests began playing. ‘Yet, there are those who condemn our heroes, seek to erase history and deconstruct the American ideal. We made American into something it was never intended to be.’
Lara Trump was the solo family member addressing the gathering on Wednesday. She’s married to Eric Trump.
The first daughter-in-law played up Trump’s propensity to hire women for leadership roles and the family’s down-to-earth style in her Wednesday night address before the Republican National Convention.
‘Any preconceived notion I had of this family disappeared immediately,’ she said. ‘They were warm and caring, they were hard workers, and they were down to earth. They reminded me of my own family – they made me feel like I was home.’
Lara explained that ‘gender didn’t matter,’ which she realized when then-candidate Donald Trump asked for her help winning her home state of North Caroline, a key swing state, when he was running for president in 2016.
‘Though I had no political experience, he believed in me and supported me – he knew I was capable even if I didn’t,’ she said.
Cut-to when President Trump was elected and then took office in 2017.
‘It didn’t surprise me when President Donald Trump appointed the most women to senior level positions of any administration in history,’ Lara Trump said. ‘The Secretary of the United Nations, Secretary of the Air Force, the first female CIA Director, the first African American female director of the Fish and Wildlife service and countless ambassadors, just to name a few.’
‘He didn’t do these things to gain a vote or to check a box – he did them because they are the right things to do,’ Lara Trump added.
Expectations ran high for Kellyanne Conway’s speech Tuesday as she will step down from her post at the White House at the end of the month – but the president’s counselor made no mention during her remarks of her impending departure to spend more time with her family.
Conway, a counselor to the president who’s been at his side since he took the oath of office, announced on Sunday evening she was quitting the administration to spend time with her family, saying her children needed ‘less drama, more mama’.
Her 15-year-old daughter Claudia has been active on social media, expressing her disapproval of her mother’s work for the White House, criticizing Conway and saying she was trying to get emancipated from her parents. Conway’s husband George Conway is also stepping back from his role with a super PAC working against Trump’s re-election.
Claudia tweeted over the weekend her displeasure with her mother’s remarks at the Republican Convention.
‘i’m devasted [sic] that my mother is actually speaking at the RNC. like DEVASTATED beyond compare,’ the teenager wrote.
During her remarks, Conway praised her boss as a champion of women.
‘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,’ she said of Trump, who has seen his approval rating fall among suburban women amid their concerns about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and racial tensions in the country.
She discussed her own work for the president, including being the first woman to run a major party candidate’s presidential campaign.
‘President Trump helped me shatter a barrier in the world of politics by empowering me to manage his campaign to its successful conclusion. With the help of millions of Americans, our team defied the critics, questionable polls and conventional wisdom — and we won,’ she said.
She did not mention she’s leaving her role as counsellor to the president at the end of the month after her daughter’s social media posts criticizing her mother’s work for the administration went viral.
Conway has been one of Trump’s most visible advisers and a frequent defender of his on the TV airwaves, the place he appreciates it the most.
Always ready to spar with the media and quick with quip, Conway survived four White House chiefs of staff and numerous Cabinet secretaries.
She also was criticized for her fast-and-lose approach with the facts, which she famously labeled ‘alternative facts.’
Conway, who also managed Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, appeared unruffled during an appearance Monday at the unveiling of an art exhibit of student work tied to the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.
‘How am I doing? I’m good. I make my own choices,’ she told reporters.
Vice President Mike Pence had the keynote spot, giving his address from Fort McHenry in Baltimore – where a battle during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’
Pence has served as both messenger and defender for Trump – often ignoring or sidestepping the president’s more outrageous – but his own political future is looming.
In his speech, given at an historic monument, he also kept with the theme of the night and addressed the protests that have risen up in support of the Black Lives Matters movement.
He also addressed the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 5.79 million Americans and killed more than 178,000.
The vice president heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force and has been a point person for the federal response.
He touted that the U.S. would develop a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the year.
‘What Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles and we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year,’ Pence declared.
President Trump made his sole appearance of the night at his No. 2’s speech at Ft. McHenry, where Pence accepted his renomination as the vice presidential candidate.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shared a deeply personal story that she doesn’t frequently discuss publicly.
She proclaimed that President Donald Trump ‘stands with Americans who have pre-existing conditions’ because she counts as one of them.
McEnany took the stage to tell the story of her preventative double mastectomy in May 2018 on Wednesday night.
‘One of the first calls I received was from Ivanka Trump,’ she recalled. ‘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 her story proves that Trump would fight for Americans who have pre-existing conditions despite the White House continuing to be a part of a lawsuit destined for the Supreme Court that could completely overrule Obamacare and thus kill off those legislative protections.
‘During one of my most difficult times, I expected to have the support of my family, but I had more support than I knew,’ she said, referencing the president.
Karen Pence, an evangelical Christian, will also speak and is likely to address her faith.
Several Republican lawmakers had their time in the limelight, including Representatives Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin, both of whom were staunch defenders of the president during the impeachment process.
Madison Cawthorn, the North Carolina congressional candidate who defeated the White House’s pick in a GOP primary for chief of staff Mark Meadows’ former House seat spoke.
The 25-year-old candidate was partially paralyzed during a car accident when he was 18 – but at the end of his speech, he used a walker and leg braces to assist him in standing to honor the country.
‘I say to Americans who love our country – young and old – be a radical for freedom,’ Cawthorn said at the conclusion of his remarks. ‘Be a radical for liberty. Be a radical for our republic.’
‘For which I stand,’ he said as he a walker was brought in for him to stand from his wheelchair. ‘One nation. Under God. With liberty and justice for all.’
Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese civil rights advocate who escaped house arrest in China in 2012 and migrated to the United States, also made remarks from D.C.
‘Standing up to fight unfairness is not easy. I know. So does President Trump – but he has shown the courage to wage that fight,’ Chen said.
‘We need to support, vote, and fight for President Trump – for the sake of the world,’ he continued.
The comments come as tensions between the U.S. and China have been on the rise recently. Trump blames Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic, claiming they concealed the threat as they released it to the world and often refers to COVID-19 as the ‘Chian virus’ – a term many denounced as racist.
‘Outside its borders, the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] ignores international treaties and norms, whether it is violating the rights of Hong Kong, cheating on trade deals, threatening Taiwan, or exploiting the World Health Organization,’ Chen said.
He also claimed China is looking to appease former President Barack Obama and his vice president and now the Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
‘The coronavirus pandemic, originating in China—and covered up by the CCP—has caused mass death and social upheaval around the world,’ Chen continued. ‘In the same way, the virus of the CCP is threatening the people of the world. The policy of appeasement of former administrations—including Obama and Biden—has allowed the CCP to infiltrate and corrode different aspects of the global community.’