WASHINGTON: Republicans pressed their case on Tuesday for U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election over Democrat Joe Biden, arguing on their convention’s second day that Trump’s leadership was vital to the country’s economic future and religious freedom.
First lady Melania Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were due to highlight the program in speeches that have drawn complaints from Democrats for using the White House and a diplomatic trip for partisan purposes.
Republicans sought to reshape the narrative on the economy, which has suffered millions of job losses since the coronavirus pandemic hit, killing more than 177,000 Americans.
An array of everyday Americans cited Trump’s efforts to loosen economic regulations, put “America First” in trade deals and support religious freedom as reasons to back him in the Nov. 3 election against Biden, Barack Obama’s former vice president.
John Peterson, who owns a Wisconsin metal fabrication business, said his company had struggled under Obama and Biden because of heavy federal regulation.
“We scrapped and clawed and hung on with everything we had for two years. And then everything changed. Because Donald Trump was elected president. He knew what it was like to build a company and to create jobs for American workers,” he said.
The tone at times echoed Monday’s opening day, when Republicans painted a dire portrait of a future America under Biden’s leadership.
Cissie Graham Lynch, granddaughter of the late Rev. Billy Graham, said Trump had given hope to people of faith by speaking about religious freedom at the United Nations, while “the left has tried to silence us.”
Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic former Indiana mayor who ran for president before endorsing Biden, challenged that characterization on Twitter, recalling a walk Trump took to a nearby church during protests outside the White House to hold up a Bible for photographers.
“They would speak of faith? The choice here is so simple. One man waves a borrowed Bible around, the other actually reads it,” Buttigieg tweeted.
In an effort to win over Black voters and tout his criminal justice bill despite pushing a law-and-order message and tough-on-crime policies, Trump in a video issued a pardon to a convicted Nevada bank robber, Jon Ponder, a Black man who has become an advocate for other inmates.
“Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” Trump said in the video before signing the pardon.
Another person who had been expected to speak to the convention was Mary Ann Mendoza, whose police officer son died in a head-on collision with a drunk driver who was in the country illegally. The Trump campaign said she was pulled from the program after tweeting a link to an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. She later apologized.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminded voters that Biden had voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq when he served in the U.S. Senate.
“I fear Biden will choose war again. He supported war in Serbia, Syria and Libya. Joe Biden will continue to spill our blood and treasure. President Trump will bring our heroes home,” Paul said.
BIDEN LEADS IN POLLS
With 70 days remaining until the Nov. 3 election, Biden, 77, who served as vice president under Barack Obama, leads Trump, 74, in opinion polls. Democrats nominated Biden to challenge Trump at their party’s convention last week.
Melania Trump’s planned speech in the White House Rose Garden and the speech by Pompeo, from a diplomatic trip to Israel, have been criticized by Democrats.
They questioned the propriety of using the presidential residence for political purposes and of Pompeo making a political speech while on a government trip. Trump himself will deliver a speech from the White House lawn on Thursday.
Pompeo planned to speak from Jerusalem even though he warned diplomats in July that presidential appointees should not take part in partisan activity, in a cable sent to all U.S. diplomatic and consular posts abroad.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said Pompeo’s decision to give a political speech during an overseas mission is a “blatant use of office for overtly political purposes” that undermines the critical work being done by the State Department.
A Democrat who chairs a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee, Joaquin Castro, announced on Tuesday an investigation into whether Pompeo’s appearance broke federal law and regulations.
The Trump campaign has shrugged off complaints about the use of federal properties as a partisan stage, and said it would ensure all staff and participants were in compliance with the 1939 Hatch Act restricting federal employees from engaging in certain political activities.
The president and vice president are excluded under the law, although there could be implications for staff depending on their level of involvement.
A total of 17 million people watched the Republican convention’s first night on Monday, according to Nielsen, fewer than the 19.7 million TV viewers who watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention last week.
Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor