Trump Goes All-In on Biden Attacks and Promises for Second Term
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump argued voters can’t trust Joe Biden to navigate the coronavirus pandemic or heal the nation’s racial divisions as he made a forceful case for a second term to close the Republican national convention Thursday.
“I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States,” Trump said in a speech from the White House’s South Lawn. “In a new term as president we will again build the greatest economy in history, quickly returning to full employment, soaring incomes and record prosperity.”
After previously struggling to articulate an agenda for his second term, Trump promised to cut taxes, create 10 million jobs in 10 months, expand charter schools and school choice to more families, turn the country into the “manufacturing superpower of the world” and “end our reliance on China.”
He also promised to set the U.S. on course to land the first woman on the moon and to be the first nation to plant its flag on Mars.
“This election will decide whether we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny,” Trump said. “This election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life, or whether we allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.”
Trump trails Biden by 7.1 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. His speech, at 70 minutes, was the second-longest nomination acceptance address since at least 1984, according to CSPAN. The longest was his own from 2016.
More than 1,500 supporters were crowded onto the lawn, very few of them wearing masks. With the chairs packed tightly together, no one was standing the recommeded six feet apart. The remarks concluded with a fireworks show and a performance by opera singer Christopher Macchio.
Biden the ‘Destroyer’
Trump asked voters to consider “a simple question: How can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?”
“For 47 years, Joe Biden took the donations of blue collar workers, gave them hugs and even kisses,” Trump said, to laughter from a large audience seated on the lawn. “And told them he felt their pain – and then he flew back to Washington and voted to ship our jobs to China and many other distant lands.”
Trump has sought to make China -- and what he says is mutual affection between the U.S. adversary and Biden -- a central concern for voters. He has also tried to place blame for the U.S. coronavirus outbreak on Beijing in order to deflect criticism of his administration’s response to the pandemic.
Trump “came to Washington for one reason and one reason alone: to make America great again,” his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump said when introducing him. “My father has strong convictions. He knows what he believes and says what he thinks.”
Trump delivered his nomination acceptance speech less than 24 hours after catastrophic Hurricane Laura struck Louisiana. Four people were killed when trees fell on their homes, Governor John Bel Edwards said.
“Our thoughts are with the wonderful people who have just come through the wrath of Hurricane Laura,” Trump said. “While the hurricane was fierce, one of the strongest to make landfall in 150 years, the casualties and deaths were far less than thought possible only 24 hours ago.”
His speech capped a four-day gathering that sought to bolster -- or in some cases, re-make -- his image as a promise-keeper defending traditional American values against Biden and Democrats. Trump’s opponents have been portrayed as socialists and radicals intent on irreparably damaging the very nature of the U.S.
Several speakers repeated claims that the U.S. wouldn’t be safe under a Biden presidency. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump friend and adviser whose secret interactions with the government of Ukraine contributed to the president’s impeachment last year, said Democrats want to “execute their pro-criminal, anti-police, socialist policies.”
“Don’t let Democrats do to America what they have done to New York,” Giuliani said. “The Democrats are urging you to vote for an obviously defective candidate.”
Race and Police
The convention mixed multiple Black speakers -- almost all of them men -- asserting that Trump is not a racist with others who voiced full-throated support for police, who many Americans believe engage in systemic racism. The president has recently drawn criticism for promising to keep low-income housing out of U.S. suburbs, which his opponents say is a naked appeal to White voters.
“Many on the other side love to incite division by claiming that President Trump is a racist,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the only Black person in Trump’s cabinet, said in his convention speech. “They could not be more wrong.”
Democrats spent their convention last week calling Trump an unfit leader who would threaten democracy if given another four years in office.
“At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas,” Trump said. “At the Democrat convention, you barely heard a word about their agenda. But that’s not because they don’t have one. It’s because their agenda is the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee.”
|More convention coverage|
Trump defended his response to the pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 Americans and threatens his re-election. About 62% of voters believe the struggle against the coronavirus is “going badly,” according to a CBS News poll released Sunday, while just 27% of Americans say things are going well overall.
The U.S. economy contracted 9.1% in the second quarter from the prior period, compared with 9.7% in Germany, 20.4% in the U.K., 13.8% in France and 12.4% in Italy. But many European countries ordered broader and sharper shutdowns than the U.S. to combat the virus. They have been able to reopen sooner and resume social activities including in-person public schools.
The president heralded an economic recovery from the pandemic, though the country still suffers more than 1,000 deaths a day from the virus and initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 22 topped 1 million again on Thursday. About 14.5 million Americans are still claiming unemployment benefits.
Trump promised a “safe and effective vaccine this year” while claiming that Biden “wants to inflict a painful shutdown on the entire country.”
Biden has said he would support a national shutdown if recommended by scientists and that he would consider a national mandate to wear masks. He’s said his priority, if elected, will be to end the pandemic, arguing the virus is no longer Trump’s focus.
While Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have emphasized the president’s limits on travel from China and efforts to rapidly build ventilators and develop vaccines and therapies, Democrats say Trump cost American lives by initially dismissing the threat of the virus and never developing a comprehensive national response.
Trump also addressed protests and riots that have erupted across the country since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May -- though without showing much sympathy for people killed by police or protesters. The latest epicenter is in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, on Sunday.
“When there is police misconduct, the justice system must hold wrongdoers fully and completely accountable, and it will,” Trump said. “We must never allow mob rule.”
Two people were shot and killed in the Kenosha protests on Tuesday by a White Illinois teenager who has expressed support for Trump on social media.
“In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities all like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, and New York and many others, Democrat-run,” Trump said.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.