In a tone that was decidedly gentler than the previous night, the Republican National Convention (RNC) used its second evening of primetime coverage to tug on the heartstrings with a series of powerful female speakers, including first lady Melania Trump. While Monday’s theme focused on America as a “Land of Promise,” Tuesday built its message around the theme of the nation being a “Land of Opportunity.”
First Lady Speaks in the Rose Garden: Highlighting the speaker lineup on Tuesday was first lady Melania Trump. Unlike the bulk of the speeches that the nation has seen this week out of the RNC, the first lady did not devote much time to speaking directly about her husband, President Donald J Trump.Read More »
The first lady showcased her empathy for others in her presentation to the country. Unlike the majority of the speakers that the RNC has provided, she took the time to discuss COVID-19 and its continuing threat on the nation’s citizens. Rather than gloss over this elephant in the room at the convention, she expressed her gratitude for the frontline workers while showing compassion for families who have lost loved ones. However, the central storyline of her speech was her own personal legal immigration story, providing a contrast to her husband’s fight against illegal immigration.
Pompeo Speaks From Jerusalem: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ruffled feathers in the Democratic Party when he spoke to the American nation directly from a hotel rooftop in Jerusalem while on a state trip to Israel. While the Trump administration said that Pompeo was lending his support as a public citizen, Democrats criticized the move for breaking a long-standing tradition that diplomats do not address political conventions.
Pompeo used his air time to commend the president for his ability to cut deals with leaders of other countries. Central to this theme was the praise lavished on him for a recent agreement brokered by Trump between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Pompeo also made mention of Trump’s ability to bring negotiations to the table between the US and North Korea, despite the fact that nothing concrete came out of these talks.
Eric and Tiffany Trump Take to the Stage: Also featured in Tuesday’s programming were speeches from two of Trump’s children, Eric and Tiffany. While she has largely stayed out of the limelight during the entirety of her father’s presidency, Tiffany Trump re-emerged on Tuesday to position herself as a millennial voice in the presence of an aging party. The president’s youngest daughter spoke about her disappointment with the cancel culture while also urging the country to work together and push through their own political comfort zones to understand others.
Meanwhile, Eric Trump spent his time speaking to criticize the Democrats for wanting to “destroy the monuments of our forefathers” while disrespecting American institutions such as the Pledge of Allegiance. Eric Trump closed out his impassioned speech by speaking emotionally about the love that he has for his father.
The President’s Appearances: In yet another break from convention, Trump appeared again on Tuesday’s telecast. In the past, the party’s candidate does not usually appear until the last night of the convention to formally accept the nomination with a speech. Not known for always following political traditions, Trump appeared on stage on Monday and again on Tuesday.
During Tuesday’s first appearance, Trump was featured just 15 minutes into the official telecast when he signed a pardon for convicted criminal Jon Ponder. Trump took to the stage from the White House again later in the programming when he led the naturalization ceremonies of five immigrants.
Additional Speakers to Note: Other speakers on Tuesday night speaking on the president’s behalf included Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, anti-abortion advocate Abby Johnson, Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. One other notable speaker was Nicholas Sandmann. The high school student from Kentucky was awarded settlements from both The Washington Post and CNN after slanderous media coverage depicted him in a negative light after a confrontation with a Native American in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial in 2019. During the confrontation, Sandmann had been famously wearing Trump’s signature Make America Great Again red baseball cap.
Praise and Criticism: As is to be expected, the speeches and format of the evening’s pomp and circumstance was met with both praise and criticism, split largely between party lines. Cameron’s speech was praised by both sides of the aisle for its candor and frank talk about race relations. Although Pompeo was largely criticized for using his position of power to sway voters with Jerusalem as the backdrop, his speech was praised by Republican pundits for its ability to portray Trump as the consummate dealmaker.
While the goal of this night was clearly to use speakers who would serve to humanize Trump and his decisions as the leader of the country, whether it was enough to sway voters at the ballot box is yet to be seen.
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