The GOP kicked its first night off by painting a grim picture of the U.S. under Democratic rule, with Charlie Kirk coining protesters as “vengeful activists” and Matt Gaetz claiming that Democrats want to invite MS-13, an international criminal gang, into the country. A majority of the speakers focused their speeches on the idea of preservation, with Rep. Matt Gaetz saying, “We must fight to save America now, or we may lose her forever.” Other speakers promoted the deep state theory, claiming that “career long politicians”, the media, and “never-Trumpers” seek to destroy American values. Gun rights activists called BLM protesters “Marxist activists” and repeated President Trump’s allegation that Biden wants to “abolish the suburbs.” Keynote speakers included Sen. Tim Scott, Donald Trump Jr., Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Steve Scalise, and Gov. Nikki Haley. The president’s son echoed the Trump campaign’s main points, attacking Biden for his policy on immigration, the economy, and calling him “the Loch Ness monster of the Swamp.”
The party also featured a notable number of diverse speakers on the first night, with African American candidate Kimberly Klacik, Herschel Walker, Vernon Jones, Sen. Tim Scott, Maximo Alvarez and Nikki Haley calling upon black, Hispanic and Southeast Asian voters in attempts to move left-leaning demographics towards conservative ideals; Vernon Jones claimed Democrats are trapping black voters on a “mental plantation,” and that for independently thinking African Americans, “Donald Trump is our president.”
In stark contrast to “the swamp,” speakers and promotional videos praised Pres. Trump’s coronavirus response, touting the “record number of tests." Many, including Representatives Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan, tried to develop Trump’s character as “a man that works tirelessly for you” and “who can preserve the values, principles, and institutions that make America great.” Charlie Kirk stated, “we have to be grateful, not angry that we live in the United States.”
Night two of the Republican National Convention focused on opportunity and the American Dream, and included topics like faith, addiction, and healthcare. The night started off with a prayer from Myron Lizer of the Navajo Nation, then transitioned to the story of Jon Ponder who received the Executive Grant of Clemency from President Trump.
Key speakers throughout the night included First Lady Melania Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Kim Reynolds, Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump. Some major topics discussed were agriculture – with speakers from the fishing and dairy industry, religion – addressed by Cissie Graham Lynch, and abortion and planned parenthood – addressed by Abby Johnson. Other events included the naturalization ceremony of five new American citizens.
The night ended with a speech by First Lady Melania Trump. She began the address by speaking about her personal experience with immigration. She spoke about “ shining a light” on role models for children around the nation, and teaching children about danger and methods for their personal well being. She also talked about national issues, such as racial division and COVID-19, and advised us to never forget the past, yet to also look to the future. Melania then closed her speech, advocating for her husband's re-election, touching on his past achievements in his first term as President, her goals for America, and efforts she seeks to make for children and mothers around the country who struggle with addiction, neglection, social media abuse, and bullying.
Rabbi Shubert Spero opened Night Three with a short speech about “God given rights.” He briefly spoke on how “God will give us strength” during tough times. Later in the night, Madison Cawthorne, a man paralyzed from a car crash, also spoke about the importance of God and Trump together.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem spoke next, comparing Trump to Lincoln, citing that they both are struggling with unrest among the Black community and their allies. Noem stated that Trump is the best option as, “the Republican Party’s commitment to individual rights and self government is as necessary today as it was in 1860 when we won our first presidential election.” Jack Brewer from Black Voices For Trump also spoke about racism in our country. He said that Trump is “not what racism looks like.” Marsha Blackburn, Dan Crenshaw, Lee Zeldin, Michael McHale and others gave speeches about the importance of nurses, police officers, the military, and other frontline workers.
Then, Tera Myers, the mother of a special needs child spoke about the importance of functional learning. After being encouraged to terminate her pregnancy, she fought for a better education for her so Samuel, who has Down Syndrome; both were later invited to the White House to meet President Trump. Myers said that Trump believed in her son and told him he was important. She believes that Trump can continue to help other children. Sister Deirdre Dun, a nun, then spoke more about abortion. A short video was shown about Women’s Suffrage, before Karen Pence tied it into the theme of heroes. Kellyanne Conaway spoke about women’s rights, pointing to the fact that Trump puts women in positions of power. Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, also gave a speech about Trump’s support of women.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shared how Trump supported her while she underwent a double mastectomy. She stated that President Trump would be the best for supporting those with preexisting medical issues. Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese dissident, spoke about the importance of following Trump in the pursuit of stopping the CCP and bettering the world's future. Richard Grennel, former Director of National Intelligence, also advocated for the President, focusing on his negotiation skills with foreign countries.
Finally, Vice President Pence addressed the Trump Administration’s success and Joe Biden’s faults, contrasting what it's like underneath President Trump, versus what it would be like under Biden. He also spoke about the administration’s handling of COVID-19, and how well he thought they handled it. To close, Trace Adkins sang the anthem, and Night Three, with strong themes of heroism, was over.
Night four was centered on the choice between a supposedly dystopian Democratic nation or another four years of Trump. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, condemned the “riots,” including the peaceful protests that have been taking place. He also flaunted the president's achievements, including job opportunities and strides against abortion. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of NYC and Trump’s personal lawyer, attacked Biden, saying that he “had no principles,” accused Antifa and BLM of turning the protests into riots, and claimed that Democratic cities like NYC were “riddled with murders.” Sen. Tom Cotton, a notable Trump ally in Congress, stuck mainly to the ‘bright side’ of the Trump presidency, praising the president on his foreign affairs, which many politicians from both sides of the aisle have criticized, and said his “strength kept us out of war.”
The night featured a number of voters and “everyday people” who testified about the greatness of the presidency. A Wisconsin corporation president praised Trump’s business handlings and his stance on China, while the parents of an aid worker killed by ISIS shot blame at the Obama Administration. A criminal justice reform advocate praised the Trumps for their policies, and two speakers addressed the BLM protests: the widow of a police officer killed during riots and a NYPD union leader complained about the antagonization of the police force and attacked the “radical left.”
To introduce her father, Ivanka Trump delivered a speech meant to highlight the stronger points of Trump’s years in the White House. She framed him as a trailblazing decision maker, and admonished career politicians, who “skip the hard fights”. Ivanka also tried to depict her father’s more human side, describing the “emotion on his face” and how much he supposedly respects law enforcement and the working class of America. She pointed out the president’s economic record, with the lowest unemployment rate before the COVID-19 pandemic (which has caused unemployment to skyrocket to rates comparable to the Great Depression). The president’s daughter also praised the Trump Administration’s record on childcare and human trafficking on the southern border.
President Trump closed out the night, with the longest convention speech on record, in which he accepted the GOP’s nomination for president. He touted his economic record, calling it the “greatest” and “strongest”, due to his tough stance on China, as well as the elimination of NAFTA. He vowed to defend America, attacked Biden for his support of the Iraq War, and accused the Obama Administration of cultivating ISIS. On immigration, Trump bragged that “America’s borders are more secure than ever.” He claimed to have built 300 miles of border wall, although the Washington Post reports that the administration has only constructed or replaced 110 miles and the White House has only officially reported 275 miles. He also boasted that he deported over 20,000 gang members.
On climate, President Trump seemed to reject any environmentalist values, calling the Paris Climate Accord “unfair and very costly” and flaunting two pipelines that he approved.
Both parties seem to agree that “this is the most important election in the history of our country.” However, the president spun it a different way. He alleged that “Democrats don’t love America”, and that they see it as a “wicked nation that must be punished for its sins.” He went after Biden for “outsourcing” American jobs, values, and dreams. He also warned that Democrats want to turn America into a socialist nation, calling Biden a “Trojan horse for socialism.”
Addressing the current turmoil in the country, Trump compared his COVID-19 response to that which he claimed Biden would carry out. He promised to produce a vaccine by the end of the year, or even before the election. As for racial justice, Trump largely dismissed the protesters, and instead praised law enforcement. He condemned efforts to defund the police and claimed he had done more for the black community since Abraham Lincoln. He closed with this statement: “We will make America safer. We will make America stronger. We will make America prouder. And we will make America greater than ever before.”
-Liam Cooper & Viviane Kim
Graphics by Viviane Kim