U.S. President Donald Trump is planning to tell American voters Thursday night that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, is supporting the “most extreme” proposals ever from a major party candidate as the U.S. leader formally accepts the Republican nomination for a second term in the White House.
"At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies or two agendas," Trump says in excerpts of the speech he'll make before about 1,500 people on the South Lawn of the White House. "We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years."Trump, who trails Biden in national polls and political battleground state surveys, says, "The Republican Party goes forward united, determined and ready to welcome millions of Democrats, independents and anyone who believes in the greatness of America and the righteous heart of the American people.”
Biden told MSNBC he sees it differently.
"The problem we have right now is we're in Donald Trump's America," Biden said in his first public reaction to this week's Republican convention, where speakers have alleged a Biden administration would produce chaos.
Trump’s address is coming on the final night of the four-day Republican convention, with a fireworks display on the National Mall to herald the occasion.
Aside from his speech live in front of the crowd at the White House, and one Wednesday night in Baltimore by Vice President Mike Pence, the convention has mostly been a virtual affair, the same as the Democratic conclave a week ago. By turning to a virtual convention, both parties were attempting to limit the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 180,000 people in the U.S. and infected 5.8 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Speeches full of praise
Trump’s key advisers believe he has improved his political standing this week with speaker after speaker praising his 3½-year tenure in the White House and lambasting Biden, most of them standing on a stage at the empty Mellon Auditorium a short distance from the White House.
“Look, the American people like the president's platform," Jared Kushner, a Trump son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, said at an event hosted by the Politico news website. "They like his policies. They want, you know, a president who's going to be bringing jobs back to America from overseas. They want law and order. They want somebody who can keep their community safe.”
Thursday’s schedule of convention speakers also includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, and one of Trump’s daughters, Ivanka Trump, who is Kushner’s wife and also a White House adviser.
With more racial unrest roiling the United States, Pence told voters Wednesday night that "you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America." He attacked the Democratic presidential candidate as a willing partner of those who want to curb police funding.
"Joe Biden says America is systemically racist," Pence said on the third night of the convention. "And that law enforcement in America has a quote, 'implicit bias,' against minorities. And when asked whether he'd support cutting funding to law enforcement, and he replied, 'Yes, absolutely.' "
"The hard truth is … you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America," Pence said in an address at Baltimore's Fort McHenry, where U.S. troops repelled a British attack in 1814. That battle inspired the writing of the U.S. national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Trump and many of his supporters have charged that Biden supports Black Lives Matter and other liberal activists' call for "defunding" local police departments, an assertion Biden has strenuously denied. But Pence was right in saying Biden and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, are open to trimming police spending and using the savings for other community agencies to help curb crime.
"I don't want to defund police," Biden said earlier this month. "I want to get police more money in order to deal with the things they badly need, from making sure they have access to community policing, that they have also in the departments social workers, psychologists, people who in fact can handle those god-awful problems that a cop has to have four degrees to handle."
Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said in a statement that Pence in his speech gave only “debunked scare tactics and gaslighting in an attempt to further divide us.” She said Pence made little mention of “the virus killing thousands of Americans each week,” and of the major hurricane then making landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
During the convention, racial turmoil has erupted in the 100,000-resident Midwestern city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the police shooting Sunday of a Black man, Jacob Blake, touched off street protests against police while buildings were set afire. A 17-year-old youth from the neighboring state of Illinois was arrested in the killing of two protesters and the wounding of a third.
Trump and Pence, along with numerous convention speakers, have portrayed their administration as a staunch supporter of law enforcement, standing against violent protests that have erupted since the May 25 death of a Black man, George Floyd, while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
'Violence must stop'
Pence declared, "The violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha," and he said that the Trump administration would guarantee "law and order" for every citizen.
Polls show Biden leading Trump by an average of 7.1 percentage points, according to an aggregation of surveys by the Real Clear Politics website. However, Biden's edge is thinner in several key battleground states that could prove decisive in the election.
Only two U.S. presidents have lost reelection contests after a single term in office in the past four decades — Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992.
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