First lady Melania Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lead an array of Americans making the case at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday for re-electing President Donald Trump over Democrat Joe Biden in November. Here is a takeaway from Tuesday’s program:
FILE PHOTO: The room is set for the first day of the Republican National Convention, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., August 24, 2020. Chris Carlson/Pool via REUTERSALTERNATE HISTORY Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, had a simple goal in his address on Tuesday night: Convince viewers that the American economy had sprung back to life again – even if it hasn’t.
A strong economy was the Republican president’s biggest asset coming into the campaign, but the coronavirus pandemic sank that narrative. On Tuesday, Kudlow spoke as if the pandemic had passed and that all was well again, arguing that Trump had “successfully fought” the outbreak.
There was no mention of jobless claims climbing past the 1 million mark last week, the unemployment rate remaining above 10%, or consumer confidence hitting a six-year low. Nor was there mention of the millions who lost jobless benefits after Congress was unable to agree on an extension of relief programs, or talk of the more than 177,000 U.S. deaths from the pandemic.
Most notably, Kudlow was speaking from his Connecticut home, not from Washington or the Republican convention site in Charlotte, North Carolina – a reminder that the virus remains with us.
CONTROVERSIAL SPEAKERS On a night when Melania Trump is scheduled to give her signature address of the 2020 campaign from the White House in a bid to appeal to suburban women voters, two other women who were on the convention speaking schedule may have done that cause no favors.
Abby Johnson, an anti-abortion advocate, and Mary Ann Mendoza, a fierce critic of illegal immigration whose son was killed by a drunk driver who was in the country illegally, were to speak back-to-back at the convention from an auditorium in Washington. Both have courted controversy.
But the Trump campaign said Mendoza was pulled from the schedule after tweeting a link on Tuesday to a lengthy anti-Semitic conspiracy thread. She apologized on Twitter, saying: “That does not reflect my feelings or personal thoughts whatsoever.”
Johnson, who has a biracial son among her eight children, said in a YouTube video in June after the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis, that when her son is grown, police officers would have to be more careful around him, the Daily Beast reported.
“Statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons,” she said, despite studies showing systemic biases in the criminal justice system that disproportionately punish Black men.
Johnson has also said on Twitter than she supports “household voting” – in which each household has a single vote, potentially denying a woman an individual vote.