Addressing a maskless crowd of supporters seated close together on the South Lawn of the White House, President Trump on Thursday night accepted his party’s presidential nomination, telling his supporters that all of his achievements were “now in danger” because of the looming threat of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
In a long address that sounded in tone and delivery much like his State of the Union addresses, Mr. Trump ticked back and forth between touting his own achievements and maligning his opponent, relying on misleading claims to do both.
“We’re here and they’re not,” he said at one point, referencing the White House behind him, even though he has been widely criticized for using holding a partisan event on government property.
Mr. Trump began his remarks with an acknowledgment of “the wonderful people who have just come through the wrath of Hurricane Laura,” but notably made no mention of the 180,000 American lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic until much later in his address, when he used a racist term to refer to the virus and called the deaths it had caused “so unnecessary.”
He quickly diverged from the positive, optimistic vision that the convention planners had sought to project all week as he launched a direct attack on Mr. Biden and a defense of his own record.
“Everything we’ve achieved is now in danger,” he said. “This election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life or allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.”
While Mr. Biden did not mention Mr. Trump by name in his nominating speech, Mr. Trump spoke directly about Mr. Biden in his, casting his opponent in dark and misleading terms.
“Joe Biden is not the savior of America’s soul,” he said. “He is the destroyer of America’s jobs, and if given the chance, he will be the destroyer of America’s greatness.”
Ignoring his own troubled history of bragging about sexual misconduct and the allegations of sexual assault against him, Mr. Trump made a dig referring to Mr. Biden’s handsy approach to politicking, which came under scrutiny last year.
The president claimed that during Mr. Biden’s career in public office, the former vice president “took the donations of blue-collar workers, gave them hugs, and even kisses.”
Mr. Trump paused for the audience to chuckle at the reference.
During a speech read from a teleprompter, with little of the free-wheeling, stream of consciousness style typically associated with Mr. Trump’s public remarks, he made little mention of the distress that has swept the country in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the more recent shooting of Jacob Blake, focusing instead on what he called the “anarchists, agitators, rioters, looters and flag-burners.”
And he tried to portray himself as the candidate whose policies are backed by science and designed for the working people of America. The president’s advisers have been trying to frame the potential for another widespread lockdown as something that only the upper middle class and coastal elites who can work from home would be able to handle, which Mr. Trump alluded to as he brought up Mr. Biden’s remark that he would be willing to shut down the country again if necessary.
“The cost of the Biden shutdown would be measured in increased drug overdoses, depression, alcohol addiction, suicides, heart attacks, economic devastation, job loss, into much more,” he said. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather it is a surrender to the virus.”
He claimed that he was basing his response on “the science, the facts, and the data,” even though the number of positive cases has risen where schools and businesses have reopened.
Mr. Trump also claimed that Mr. Biden, a moderate Democrat, was a pawn of the left, who would “demolish the suburbs, confiscate your guns, and appoint justices who will wipe away your Second Amendment and other Constitutional freedoms.”
Mr. Trump for the most part stuck to his prepared remarks. He did at one point ad-lib a line about the baseless theory he has been promoting for years — that President Barack Obama had spied on his campaign. “Remember this,” He said. “They spied on my campaign and they got caught. Let’s see now what happens.”
Mr. Trump’s address ended with fireworks just before midnight at the Washington Monument, another use of federal property for political purposes.
He called it “the People’s House.”
But on Thursday night, as President Trump accepted his party’s renomination in an overtly political event staged on the South Lawn of the White House, he turned the majestic building into a partisan prop like no politician has ever done before.
Capping a week in which Mr. Trump and his Republican allies repeatedly ignored rules that are supposed to enforce the line between politics and policy, the president stood grandly in front of the country’s most important landmark to denounce his rival.
“At the Democrat National Convention, Joe Biden and his party repeatedly assailed America as a land of racial, economic and social injustice,” Mr. Trump said to an audience of more than 1,500 as American flags waved behind him. “So tonight, I ask you a simple question: How can the Democratic Party lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?”
Previous presidents have sought to carefully navigate the propriety of mixing campaigning with governing, even though the laws that attempt to minimize their collision do not apply to the occupant of the Oval Office.
Jimmy Carter announced his re-election bid in the East Room and Ronald Reagan did so from the Oval Office. But neither had live crowds flanked by giant Jumbotrons on either side of the White House, serving as immense campaign billboards.
Mr. Trump appeared to recognize the power of the setting. At the beginning of his speech, he noted that the White House “has been the home of larger than life figures like Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson, who rallied Americans to bold visions of a bigger and brighter future.”
Motioning to the grand building behind him, Mr. Trump said that “within these walls lived tenacious generals, like Presidents Grant and Eisenhower, who led our soldiers in the cause of freedom. From these grounds, Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark on a daring expedition.”
But if the president was aware of the building’s storied history, he showed no embarrassment at the prospect of putting it to use as the backdrop for fierce partisan attacks.
“We have spent the last four years, reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years,” Mr. Trump said. “Biden’s record is a shameful roll call of the most catastrophic betrayals and blunders in our lifetime.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign spared no expense in creating that backdrop — building an extensive, red-white-and-blue stage where Marine One usually takes off, installing 1,500 folding chairs, and a lectern with the seal of the President of the United States.
Mr. Trump milked it for all it was worth, walking down from the home’s south balcony to begin his speech.
“My fellow Americans,” he said moments later, the White House lit up brightly behind him, “tonight with a heart of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States.”
Later, as he called for evicting the “failed political class” from Washington, Mr. Trump turned back toward the White House.
“The fact is, I’m here,” he said, a broad smile across his face. “What’s the name of that building?” he asked as the crowd cheered. Turning back to the crowd, he was even more blunt: “But I’ll say it differently. The fact is we’re here, and they’re not.”
And he punctuated his use of Washington’s public spaces with a thunderous fireworks display over the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial — all in service of his campaign.
Spelled out in the sky: “TRUMP” and “2020.”
In his address on Thursday, President Trump made a number of false or misleading claims. Here are a few of them, and read our full fact check here.
“We shipped hundreds of millions of masks, gloves and gowns to our front line health care workers.”
This is misleading.
A report by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services in the early days of the pandemic found serious problems with the supplies shipped from the strategic national stockpile.“Some hospitals noted that at the time of our interview they had not received supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, or that the supplies that they had received were not sufficient in quantity or quality,” the inspector general wrote. One administrator stated that getting supplies from the stockpile was a major challenge, saying that the supplies the hospital received “won’t even last a day. We need gloves, we need masks with fluid shields on — N95 masks — and we need gowns.”
“Days after taking office, we … ended the unfair and very costly Paris climate accord and secured for the first time American energy independence.”
While President Trump did withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change agreement — a move that was not legally initiated until 2019 — the pact, which includes nearly every other nation on earth, remains intact without the participation of the United States.
It is not accurate to say that the United States is “energy independent,” a phrase that suggests that the United States is independent of reliance on imported energy sources. In 2019, nearly half the oil consumed by the United States was imported — about 9 million barrels per day were imported of the roughly 20 million barrels per day that were consumed, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department.
“I say very modestly that I have done more for the African-American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president.”
Not according to historians. Among modern presidents, historians agreed that the most significant legislative achievements belong to President Lyndon B. Johnson, who shepherded the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.
A 2017 study that assessed modern presidents based on the analysis of editorials published in Black newspapers ranked Mr. Johnson at the top. Mr. Trump would place in the bottom third, the study’s co-author told the Times.
“We are delivering lifesaving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year or maybe even sooner.”
The race to develop a vaccine is well underway, but it is uncertain whether it will produce results by the end of the year. Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert and a member of the coronavirus task force, has repeatedly said it will likely be the end of 2020 or the start of 2021 before it is clear whether clinical trials were successful. Some researchers working on vaccine candidates have said getting data this year will be a real feat.
Mr. Trump has been pushing hard for a faster timetable. According to two people with knowledge of the discussion, Treasury Secretary Mark Mnuchin, who sits on the coronavirus task force, suggested in a July 30 meeting with congressional leaders that the administration would likely grant emergency authorization for a vaccine before the end of phase three clinical trials in the United States. Asked about that remark, a Treasury Department spokesperson said that Mr. Mnuchin believes vaccine approval is wholly up to the Food and Drug Administration. Nonetheless, the promotion of overly optimistic scenarios by Mr. Trump and his aides has fostered deep concern that the White House will try to influence the vaccine approval process for political reasons.
President Trump on Thursday bragged about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 180,000 people in the United States, repeatedly misstating the truth about his administration’s response to the worst health crisis in a century.
Speaking in front of a large audience — few of whom were wearing masks as they sat within inches of one another — Mr. Trump said that “to save as many lives as possible, we are focusing on the science, the facts and the data.”
In fact, the president’s administration failed to prevent the spread of the virus in the early days of the crisis as Mr. Trump himself downplayed its threat and mocked recommendations from scientists to increase testing and wear masks.
In his remarks on the last night of the Republican convention, Mr. Trump ignored those facts. Instead, he repeated misleading claims about the steps that his government took to confront the consequences of the virus.
“We shipped hundreds of millions of masks, gloves and gowns to our frontline health care workers,” Mr. Trump said. But a report by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services in the early days of the coronavirus crisis found serious problems with the supplies shipped from the strategic national stockpile.
Mr. Trump also claimed that the administration was “delivering lifesaving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year or maybe even sooner.”
Medical experts have said that it is still uncertain whether the race to develop a vaccine will lead to one by the end of the year, much less any sooner. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the coronavirus task force, has repeatedly said it will most likely be the end of 2020 or the start of 2021 before it is clear whether clinical trials were successful.
Mr. Trump also used his speech to attack former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his plan to confront the virus if he becomes president.
“Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender to the virus,” he said.
During and after Mr. Trump’s speech, protesters in Washington demonstrated against, among other things, his handling of the pandemic.
All week, speakers at the Republican National Convention have implausibly described President Trump as a caring, empathic leader who doesn’t hesitate to give his time to those in need.
But a handful of Mr. Trump’s hagiographers went even further than that — ascribing direct quotations to the president that do not track with any public statements he has made.
While there is ample reporting to suggest Mr. Trump has little patience for death — he began his father’s eulogy by speaking about himself — Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said Mr. Trump found a reservoir of empathy for the parents of Mr. Jordan’s nephew, who had been killed in a car accident.
“The president,” Mr. Jordan said, “said, ‘Yeah, losing a loved one’s always difficult, and it’s really tough when they’re so young.’”
Kellyanne Conway, the departing White House counselor who served as a campaign manager for Mr. Trump in 2016, recounted a conversation in which Mr. Trump described drug overdoses as a “personal” responsibility.
She recalled: “When President Trump asked me to coordinate the White House efforts on combating the drug crisis, he said: ‘This is personal, Kellyanne. So many lives have been ruined by addiction and we’ll never even know it because people are ashamed to reach out for help, or they’re not sure who to turn to in their toughest hour.’”
Perhaps no story was as implausible as the one relayed by Richard Grenell, the former United States ambassador to Germany, who said, “I’ve watched President Trump charm the chancellor of Germany” — an anecdote hardly supported by reporting or photo evidence of their meetings.
Ben Carson, Mr. Trump’s housing secretary, said that the president, who has often demeaned Americans who live in cities and states governed by Democrats, “wants everyone to succeed and believes in the adage, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’”
But no convention speaker took as much creative license with quotations from Mr. Trump as his own daughter, Ivanka Trump. During her remarks introducing her father, she recalled watching on television as Alice Johnson was released from prison after he commuted her sentence.
“After a long silence, he looked at me and said, ‘Imagine how many people there are just like Alice,’” Ms. Trump said. “From that point on, he became a voice for those who had been unfairly silenced in our prison system.”
(Later in the evening, Mr. Trump highlighted his executive order demanding 10-year prison sentences for anyone convicted of tearing down historical statues and monuments, including those built to glorify Confederates.)
Ms. Trump also said the president was amused by television advertising attacking him — a proposition easily disproved by reading his Twitter feed.
“When we see attack ads paid for by big pharma, my dad smiles and says, ‘To me, you know, we are doing something really right if they are hitting us so hard,’” she said.
For all of these efforts to soften the president’s image and point to his compassion in private situations, when it came time for Mr. Trump to speak, he dismissed it as unimportant.
“The laid-off workers in Michigan, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and many other states didn’t want Joe Biden’s hollow words of empathy,” he said. “They wanted their jobs back.”
Ivanka Trump introduced President Trump to accept his nomination, calling herself “the proud daughter of the people’s president,” seeking to humanize her father with stories about his grandchildren and praise for his agenda on behalf of Americans.
More than just Mr. Trump’s elder daughter, Ms. Trump is a senior adviser in the White House, the wife of another top aide, and a powerful — if quiet — voice in the president’s tightest circle of confidants.
Describing her father as someone with “strong convictions,” Ms. Trump conceded that “my dad’s communication style is not to everyone’s taste.” She added that the president’s tweets “can feel a bit unfiltered.”
“But,” she said, speaking live from the South Lawn of the White House, with American flags waving behind her, “the results speak for themselves.”
Publicly, Ms. Trump has pushed an agenda that focused on expanding the child tax credit and increasing paid family leave for workers, though critics say her efforts have largely benefited well-to-do families rather than the working poor who struggle with child care.
In her remarks, she stressed what she said was her father’s empathy for workers and others — an assertion made by many convention speakers this week that has repeatedly been challenged by the president’s public behavior.
“I’ve been with my father and seen the pain in his eyes when he receives updates on the lives that have been stolen by this plague,” she said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “I have witnessed him make some of the most difficult decisions of his life.”
Despite the division that Mr. Trump has sown over four years, his daughter described him as a uniter, noting his efforts to pass a bipartisan overhaul of the criminal justice system.
“My father did not campaign on this issue. He tackled this injustice because he has a deep compassion for those who have been treated unfairly,” she said. “More than rhetoric and political prose, the ability to build consensus and achieve bipartisan success like this will help heal our country’s racial inequities and bring us forward — together.”
Ms. Trump received a standing ovation from the crowd of about 2,000 people when she said her father made a peace agreement in the Middle East between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, calling it “the biggest breakthrough in a quarter-century.”
Privately, Ms. Trump has sometimes clashed with her father, giving hope to the president’s critics that she might be able to hold back his worst impulses. On that score, the record is mixed.
Despite urging Mr. Trump not to abandon the Paris climate accord, the president did just that, accusing the agreement of imposing “draconian financial and economic burdens” on the country. But she succeeded in helping to persuade Mr. Trump to abandon the policy of separating migrant families at the border after cries of outrage from around the globe.
But on Thursday, Ms. Trump did not mention either of those issues. Instead, she emphasized her support for her father and his priorities.
“Dad, people attack you for being unconventional, but I love you for being real, and I respect you for being effective,” she said.
Ms. Trump’s profile is even higher abroad than it is at home, a fact that has sometimes attracted scorn because of her perceived lack of experience and formal position in the government. At an economic conference in Davos, Switzerland, in January, Ms. Trump participated in a bilateral meeting with the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, and hosted a breakfast for corporate titans.
Ms. Trump has drawn criticism from ethics experts despite having shut down her branded line of clothing in the summer of 2018. Recently, she endorsed Goya beans in a picture on Twitter after the company had became the target of a boycott following its leader’s praise for the president during a visit to the White House. Experts called it an illegal abuse of her position for the benefit of a private company.
Earlier, she drew criticism for traveling to her family’s New Jersey estate for Passover in April despite travel restrictions that were in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Melania Trump, appearing alongside President Trump on the last night of the Republican convention, fell victim to one of the classic photographic blunders.
The most famous is “never hold up a whiteboard,” but only slightly less well-known is this: Never wear lime green.
As TV broadcasters and Photoshop aficionados know, doing so provides a ready-made green screen on which anyone can overlay, well, anything. Predictably, the memes started appearing within half an hour of Mrs. Trump’s emergence from the White House in a green dress.
Among the images placed on Mrs. Trump’s dress were the numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths in the United States, footage of Mr. Trump with Jeffrey Epstein, migrant families crowded behind a fence, coronavirus particles and a Joe Biden campaign logo. The Lincoln Project also jumped in.
Alice Marie Johnson was serving a life sentence in an Alabama prison for a nonviolent drug conviction when Kim Kardashian West discovered her story on social media and personally appealed on her behalf to President Trump.
Mr. Trump liked Ms. West, and he liked Ms. Johnson’s story, of someone who became a playwright, a mentor, a certified hospice volunteer, an ordained minister behind bars. He commuted her sentence in 2018, after she spent nearly 22 years in prison.
Since then, Ms. Johnson has become the administration’s preferred poster child (or poster grandmother) for criminal justice reform, and her inclusion at this year’s Republican convention was no surprise.
Ms. Johnson’s story was featured in the Trump campaign’s multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad, designed to appeal to Black voters, or at least make them feel that there was an option to vote for on the Republican side of the aisle. She appeared this year as a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where she told her inspiring personal story and credited Mr. Trump for her freedom.
Her voting rights have not been restored and she will not be able to cast her ballot for Mr. Trump.
But she is valuable to the Trump White House because she is a person of color telling a heartfelt, personal story about how the president’s policies brought her justice.
On Thursday night, she said that Mr. Trump’s decision to sign into law the First Step Act, which modified federal sentencing laws and took steps to reduce recidivism, “brought joy, hope, and freedom to thousands of well-deserving people. I hollered ‘hallelujah!’ My faith in justice and mercy was rewarded.”
She said that when Mr. Trump heard her story, “he saw me as a person. He had compassion. And he acted.”
Ms. Johnson has tried to use her platform and unique access to the Trump White House, as well, to fight for justice for women she was close with when serving in prison. The three African-American women whose commutations the White House announced in February were all people whom Ms. Johnson served time with, knows intimately and had recommended for clemency.
The shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black father in Wisconsin who was partly paralyzed after a white officer fired at him in front of his children, reignited protests against racism and police violence in the nation’s capital on Thursday, not long before President Trump was expected to address the Republican National Convention from the White House, just yards away.
Fred Nelson, 54, a retired police officer, said he was attending the demonstration for his Black sons. Even as more and more Black people were killed at the hands of the police this summer, nothing had seemed to change, he said, a common frustration among the protesters.
“Enough is enough,” he said. “Every week is a different incident. Something has to be done. If not now, when?”
Sydney Williams, 28, had been to similar protests nearly every week since May. But the news coverage had disappeared, she said, adding that maybe protesters needed to “step on Congress’s neck” to get something done.
Nearby, several Latino advocacy groups projected some of Mr. Trump’s remarks about undocumented immigrants onto the Newseum, including: “These aren’t people. These are animals.”
Later in the evening, the demonstration evolved from what was a standoff between the police and protesters into a de facto block party along Black Lives Matter Plaza. Some danced to music played by D.J.s, and a drumming troupe performed for the crowd.
Protesters in Washington joined others across the country who have denounced the shooting of Mr. Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the episode.
Thousands are expected to congregate in the nation’s capital on Friday to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and to protest police brutality. The families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, whose deaths at the hands of the police incited protests earlier this year, are expected to speak.
Carl and Marsha Mueller, whose daughter was kidnapped and killed by Islamic State militants, said they believed she would have been rescued if President Trump had been in office at the time.
Their daughter, Kayla, a 26-year-old humanitarian worker, was kidnapped shortly after entering Syria in 2013, held hostage and repeatedly raped.
“For 18 months, she endured, and we endured an agonizing back-and-forth between us, the Obama administration and ISIS,” Mr. Mueller said. “We put all our faith in the government. But the government let us down. President Obama refused to meet with us until ISIS had already beheaded other Americans. To this day, we’ve never heard from Joe Biden.”
He added: “The military prepared a rescue mission, but the White House delayed it. By the time it went forward, Kayla had been moved to another location.”
Kayla Mueller’s death was confirmed in February 2015. The Islamic State claimed at the time that she had died in a Jordanian airstrike, but more recent evidence indicates that the group’s leader at the time, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may have ordered her killing.
Mr. al-Baghdadi died in October during a United States Special Operations raid named after Kayla.
Ms. Mueller read excerpts from a letter that another hostage smuggled out, in which Kayla wrote, “Know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able, and I have a lot of fight left inside of me.”
Marsha Mueller added that she and her husband supported Mr. Trump “because of his commitment to make and keep America great, not with the power of the government, but with the passion of people like Kayla — Americans who, even in the darkest days, always have more fight left inside of them.”
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Thursday delivered a searing critique of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s foreign policy, warning in a speech at the Republican National Convention that electing Mr. Biden as president would “return us to a weak and dangerous past.”
One of the most conservative Republicans since arriving in the Senate five years ago, Mr. Cotton has become a Trump whisperer on key subjects, urging the president to be more aggressive against China, immigrants and protesters.
In his remarks, Mr. Cotton exaggerated the facts about Mr. Biden’s record, claiming that the former vice president “let ISIS terrorists rampage across the Middle East” and “treated Israel like a nuisance.” In fact, the Obama-Biden administration waged a fierce campaign against the Islamic State and engaged repeatedly with Israel’s government.
A former Army infantry officer, Mr. Cotton’s hawkish views about the use of force abroad have sometimes clashed with those of Mr. Trump, who has said he wants to pull back American troops from what he calls misguided overseas adventures.
But Mr. Cotton has Mr. Trump’s ear when it comes to his desire to cut legal immigration. In the summer of 2017, Mr. Cotton persuaded the president to endorse his Raise Act, a Senate bill that would have reduced the flow of legal immigration into the United States by half.
When the president appeared to be on the brink of a deal in 2018 with Democrats to legalize young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, it was Mr. Cotton who rushed with other conservative allies to the Oval Office to talk him out of it.
A fierce critic of China, Mr. Cotton has been relentless in pushing Mr. Trump to blame that country’s Communist leadership for the coronavirus. Mr. Trump’s decision to leave the World Health Organization came after intense lobbying from Mr. Cotton about the agency’s deference to the Chinese leadership.
On Thursday, Mr. Cotton lashed out at Mr. Biden for, he said, having “aided and abetted China’s rise for 50 years with terrible trade deals that closed our factories and laid off our workers.”
He did not offer specifics, but boasted that Mr. Trump “stands up to China’s cheating and stealing and lying.” He insisted that Mr. Biden would be weak in the face of China and other adversaries, while Mr. Trump has not.
“We need a president who stands up for America — not one who takes a knee,” Mr. Cotton said, a reference to athletes who have protested against racial injustice.
When pockets of violence broke out in several American cities amid the largely peaceful protests that took place after the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, Mr. Cotton was vocal in urging the president to take aggressive action to impose order.
In June, The New York Times published an Op-Ed article by Mr. Cotton in which he described an “orgy of violence” after the killing of Mr. Floyd and called for the president to “employ the military” to stop looting during protests. The essay was titled “Send In the Troops.”
After many of The Times’s readers and employees objected, noting that Mr. Cotton’s article contained falsehoods and saying it had put Black people, including Times staff members, in danger, the newspaper concluded that “the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”
After taking in a week’s worth of Democratic convention programming, President Trump saw room for improvement, simply on a production level.
“We’re going to have more of it live than what they did,” Mr. Trump told Fox News last week. “I think it’s pretty boring when you do tapes.”
In fact, the vast, vast majority of Mr. Trump’s convention — which aides promised would be more of a traditional “live” event — has been taped hours before broadcast. Most of the speeches from Trump family members, White House officials and elected officials in the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., were taped ahead of time.
On Thursday, almost the entire program was on tape, save for appearances by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban Development, and the president’s daughter Ivanka. Mr. Trump’s speech was also set to be delivered live.
The Trump campaign asked most of its speakers to pretape their remarks on a patriotic set inside the Mellon Auditorium, lending the illusion of a live event — no domestic Zoom backdrops here. But this was almost as much of a virtual convention as the Democrats’.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, for instance, watched her own appearance at the convention from her office in the West Wing, surrounded by her staff. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor whose speech played on Thursday, was seated on the South Lawn as part of the convention audience, ahead of Mr. Trump’s own speech.
The reliance on tape was only surprising because Mr. Trump claimed he was going to do it live. Television producers rely on pretape because it minimizes risk and makes for a smoother viewing experience without gaps and hiccups.
For the first half of the final night of the Republican National Convention, you could be forgiven for thinking the Democratic presidential nominee was New York City itself.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, attacked the city. Patrick Lynch, the president of the city’s police union, ticked through a list of local people killed by gun violence. There was a video montage attacking, for some reason, Mayor Bill de Blasio (who, it should be noted, did briefly run for president himself last year).
And Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, in his very brief testimonial, proudly noted that he was the only leader in Washington not from New York or California.
All this for the city that launched President Trump’s career in real estate, the media and eventually politics.
It’s hard to imagine a Democratic convention spending an evening firing a series of attacks against a heavily Republican state like Oklahoma or Idaho. But Republicans don’t think twice about painting New York or San Francisco as political boogeymen, places to hold up as examples of what the rest of the country wants to avoid.
Much of this is simply Republicans engaging in the very identity politics they claim to abhor. New York City is full of Black and Hispanic people, and millions of immigrants — the sort of people Republicans have long used to scare up votes in white America long before Mr. Trump’s rise.
Now that they have a president eager and willing to tar American cities because they are governed by Democrats, there is very little subtlety to their attacks on New York City.
Four years ago at the Republican National Convention, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, played the role that Kimberly Guilfoyle took on this year — acting as the speaker who delivered a speech at the highest decibel.
Standing on the stage in Cleveland, fists clenched, arms open, Mr. Giuliani shouted a fear-stoking message to viewers that the world was full of threats and terror.
“The vast majority of Americans today do not feel safe,” he said then. “They fear for their children and they fear for themselves. They fear for our police officers who are being targeted.”
On Thursday night, Mr. Giuliani came for a reprise, and a return to his roots in law and order, rather than speaking as the person who has recently tried to dig up dirt abroad about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee.
He described New York City, the city he once led, as a place “in shock,” and blamed its Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio.
“Murders, shootings and violent crime are increasing at percentages unheard of in the past,” he said, inaccurately. “We are seeing the return of rioting and looting.”
He claimed, falsely, that New York was overwhelmed by crime.
He urged viewers, “Don’t let Democrats do to America what they have done to New York!”
He credited Mr. Trump for condemning the senseless killing of George Floyd by the police. But he claimed the left had decided to protest because it had, in his words, “a president to beat and a country to destroy.”
“They hijacked the peaceful protests” and turned them into “vicious riots,” he said. In reality, violent demonstrators and looters represented only a small fraction of the protesters who have gathered across the country this summer.
Mr. Giuliani has, in his most recent iteration, been at the center of the efforts to dig up dirt and any possible conflicts of interest involving Hunter Biden, the son of Mr. Biden, specifically in Ukraine, in order to portray the Democratic nominee as corrupt. The effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to find damaging information about Mr. Trump’s political rivals formed the basis of the inquiry that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
But Mr. Giuliani notably did not mention Hunter Biden at all during his speech.
Attaching himself to Mr. Trump gave Mr. Giuliani a second shot at relevance four years ago, and that has not abated in the past four years. Many White House officials would prefer this weren’t the case.
After joining Mr. Trump’s legal team as his personal lawyer during the special counsel’s investigation, Mr. Giuliani’s television appearances often appeared to simply ignite new questions about abuse of power by a president coercing a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.
But Mr. Trump always defended him, even when Mr. Giuliani was under investigation by federal prosecutors for his dealings in Ukraine, as “a great crime fighter.”
Patrick Lynch, the head of New York City’s conservative police union, who fiercely defended the officers responsible for the chokehold killing of Eric Garner in 2014, offered a blistering defense of law enforcement that conjured bad-old-days images of his city’s past — and, to hear his glum forecast, its future.
“Unlike the Democrats, who froze in the face of rioting and looting, President Trump gives law enforcement the support and the tools to go out there and put a stop to it — period, end of story,” Mr. Lynch said on Thursday at the Republican convention.
“Democratic politicians have surrendered our streets and institutions,” he added. “The loudest voices have taken control, and our so-called leaders are scrambling to catch up to them.”
The inclusion in the prime-time program of Mr. Lynch — who has for decades resisted efforts to hold his 24,000 members accountable for the deaths of civilians in their custody — sent as clear a message as any speaker, apart perhaps from former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, of Mr. Trump’s one-sided view of the protests against police killings.
Mr. Lynch’s comments followed a week of unrest after an officer in Kenosha, Wis., shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back in front of his young children, leaving him paralyzed. Mr. Lynch has responded to recent police killings, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, by accusing demonstrators of behaving like terrorists.
The political dynamic inside Mr. Lynch’s union, the Police Benevolent Association, in some ways resembles that of the country at large; Mr. Lynch, who enjoys deep support among white officers who live in Staten Island, Queens and the suburbs, in 2015 survived his toughest re-election fight, fending off two candidates who drew support from the growing percentage of Black, Hispanic and Asian officers in his ranks.
Ann Dorn, a sergeant in the St. Louis Police Department whose husband was killed during protests in June, described the night of his death in emotional detail in a speech at the Republican convention.
Her husband, David Dorn, a retired police captain, was fatally shot by someone who had broken into a pawnshop during the unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Mr. Dorn did not wake her up when he went out to check on the shop, which belonged to a friend; she found out, she said, when the chief of police rang her doorbell at 4 a.m.
“I wondered why Dave had not answered the door,” Ms. Dorn said. “It wasn’t uncommon for him to be up watching TV at this time. I called out to him several times. There was no reply. He just wasn’t there. I let in the chief, and fighting back tears, he uttered the words every officer’s spouse dreads.”
She continued: “I relive that horror in my mind every single day. My hope is that having you relive it with me now will help shake this country from this nightmare we are witnessing in our cities and bring about positive, peaceful change.”
Her appearance at the convention was part of an effort by Mr. Trump’s campaign to portray the country as convulsed by violence and anarchy, a dramatic exaggeration of the limited violence that has occurred amid mostly peaceful protests. It was also an example of the rhetorical gymnastics that many convention speakers have been doing: arguing that re-electing Mr. Trump is the solution to problems that are happening now, on his watch.
“Violence and destruction are not legitimate forms of protest,” Ms. Dorn said. “They do not safeguard Black lives — they only destroy them. President Trump understands this, has offered federal help to restore order in our communities. In a time when police departments are short on resources and manpower, we need that help.”
Mr. Dorn’s daughters told The St. Louis American this week that they were upset by Ms. Dorn’s decision to speak at the convention, and that their father had not supported Mr. Trump.
“We know his wife is a Trump supporter, but he was not,” his daughter Debra White told the paper. “He frequently said they were not able to talk about politics, because they were at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I know he would not want his legacy to be for his death to be used to further Trump’s law-and-order agenda.”
Ben Carson, the only Black person in President Trump’s cabinet, was the first speaker on Thursday to offer his consolation to the family of Jacob Blake, the Kenosha, Wis., man left paralyzed after being shot by a police officer in front of his children —striking a rare conciliatory note during a four-day convention devoted to sharp law-and-order rhetoric.
“Before I begin, I’d like to say that our hearts go out to the Blake family and the other families who have been impacted by the tragic events in Kenosha,” said Mr. Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, while also criticizing the unrest that followed.
“As Jacob’s mother has urged the country, lets use our hearts, our love, and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other,” he said. “History reminds us that necessary change comes through hope and love, not senseless and destructive violence.”
Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon whose 2016 presidential campaign flopped after a promising start, has played a paradoxical role in the administration.
Strikingly, Mr. Carson — one of the most famous physicians in the country — barely touched on the medical issue that has confounded Mr. Trump, the coronavirus pandemic.
After a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, he quietly pressed the president to moderate his tone on issue of race while publicly defending Mr. Trump when he equated white nationalists with counterprotesters.
Yet as HUD secretary he has pursued policies that are at the vanguard of the president’s efforts at driving a wedge between Black homeowners and white suburbanites, pressing for a rollback of an Obama-era inclusionary housing plan that Mr. Trump has falsely claimed is a Democratic attempt to “destroy the suburbs.”
The soft-spoken secretary has also pursued a hard-edge conservative agenda at an agency responsible for overseeing public and subsidized housing in low-income neighborhoods throughout the country. He has thrown his support behind immense budget cuts proposed by Mr. Trump’s budget office, scrapped protections for homeless transgender people, and sidelined the department’s once powerful fair housing division that under President Barack Obama brought desegregation cases.
After issuing his call for restraint, Mr. Carson launched into a speech that touched on his self-help conservative philosophy, praised Mr. Trump’s anti-abortion stance and, like so many other Black speakers at a convention for a party overwhelmingly run by whites, vouched for Mr. Trump’s virtue on matters of race.
“President Trump does not dabble in identity politics,” said Mr. Carson, referring to a president who began his presidential campaign for years ago by suggesting that Mexicans were rapists. “Many on the other side love to incite division by claiming that President Trump is a racist. They could not be more wrong.”
Sean Reyes, Utah’s attorney general and a longtime backer of President Trump, highlighted what he said was Mr. Trump’s record of cracking down on human trafficking and stemming the nation’s opioid crisis, saying on Thursday that he had kept his campaign promises to do both.
Mr. Reyes, who has been formally tagged as one of the Republican Party’s “rising stars,” argued that Mr. Trump was “a fierce warrior against human trafficking” and had taken “aggressive action to break the chains of drug addiction.” During his time as Utah’s top law enforcement agent, Mr. Reyes has placed the issues of human trafficking and drug use at the front of his agenda, helmingstatewide task forces focused on both.
Citing time he spent discussing these topics with Mr. Trump, Mr. Reyes asserted that Mr. Trump and his administration had “done more to combat human trafficking than any administration in modern history.”
“That’s a promise kept,” he said. Similarly, he listed a number of actions that he said Mr. Trump had taken to combat the opioid epidemic that he said would save lives.
During his more than three years in office, Mr. Trump has sought to fulfill a campaign promise by declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency and unveiling a plan to combat the epidemic that involved getting “tougher on drug dealers.” He has also promised to provide more funding for treatment and stronger scrutiny of pharmaceutical companies.
Many leading experts on the opioid crisis have criticized the federal government’s response as too slow and inadequately funded. But they have acknowledged that the situation has improved somewhat under Mr. Trump, while continuing to air concerns that his tough talk on the epidemic often lacks details.
Earlier this year, Mr. Trump held what he called a summit on human trafficking at the White House and issued an executive order aimed at combating it. But some activists have been unsatisfied, arguing that the administration has been dismissive of claims by women and children who have been trafficked over the southern border; some said they did not attend the meeting because they were concerned it would amount to a promotional event for Mr. Trump rather than a listening session.
The son of a Spanish-Filipino father and a Japanese-Hawaiian mother, Mr. Reyes highlighted his background in his remarks on Thursday. He opened and closed his speech by discussing his admiration for his father, who he said had recently died of cancer.
“When he passed, he had by his bedside: his scriptures, family photos and a pen President Trump gave me to give him,” Mr. Reyes said of his father. “Dad loved that pen. It represented freedom to him, the freedom that only exists when someone is willing to fight for it. To my father, President Trump is that ultimate warrior fighting for our freedom.”
Mr. Reyes is one of several high-profile people of color in the party whom officials have tapped to speak throughout the four-day convention. Most — including Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador — have used at least part of their speaking time to try to assuage voters’ concerns about Mr. Trump’s racist statements and the Republican Party’s view on race writ large.
Mr. Reyes took office in 2013 to finish out the term of John Swallow, who resigned during a corruption investigation. He won re-election handily and won his Republican primary earlier this year. He will face Greg Skordas, a high-profile lawyer, in November.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate majority leader, said returning President Trump to the White House for a second term was “incredibly consequential for Middle America” in brief remarks on the fourth night of the Republican convention.
Calling the Senate “the firewall” against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, Mr. McConnell warned that voters must elect Republicans to protect against a damaging agenda that he described with hyperbole and exaggeration.
Democrats, he said, want to “decide how we should live our lives. They want to tell you, when you can go to work, when your kids can go to school. They want to tax your job out of existence, and then send you a government check for unemployment. They want to tell you what kind of car you can drive, what sources of information are credible, and even how many hamburgers you can eat.”
He also warned that Democrats were pushing for statehood for Washington, D.C., saying that they want to “codify” their liberal agenda “by making the swamp itself, Washington, D.C., America’s 51st state, with two more liberal senators.”
He urged voters to support “my friend, President Donald Trump.”
Two men could hardly have more different personalities. Yet in the last four years, Mr. McConnell and President Trump have become essential to each other.
Mr. McConnell has led Republicans in the Senate since the beginning of 2007, much of that time locked in combat with a White House run by former President Barack Obama. Mr. Trump’s election changed the equation.
For Mr. McConnell, a six-term Kentucky senator, the president makes possible the pursuit of an agenda that is at the core of what he believes in: a strong military, lower taxes, conservative judges and a robust defense of anti-abortion and pro-gun positions.
It is barely a secret on Capitol Hill that Mr. McConnell, stoic by nature, is disdainful of the president’s undisciplined manner, his fiery outbursts and his xenophobic messaging. But the majority leader has rarely challenged the president publicly or privately.
Instead, Mr. McConnell is one of the president’s most ardent defenders and led the effort to secure Mr. Trump’s acquittal after Speaker Nancy Pelosi successfully impeached the president for high crimes and misdemeanors just before Christmas last year.
Mr. McConnell’s ability to shape the Senate impeachment trial led to a nearly unanimous verdict among Republicans in favor of the president’s acquittal; only Senator Mitt Romney of Utah voted for one of the articles of impeachment.
But perhaps the most important role Mr. McConnell has played in the last four years has been to successfully secure the confirmation of more than 200 federal judges, including two Supreme Court justices and more than 50 judges on the appeals courts.
That legacy is likely to outlast Mr. Trump, whether he wins another four years in the White House or not.
Dan Scavino first met President Trump in 1992, when he was chosen to be his golf caddie.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Mr. Scavino has the distinction of being Mr. Trump’s longest-serving White House aide in a West Wing known for its fast-moving revolving door where tenures are sometimes measured in 11-day increments known as “Scaramuccis.” Mr. Scavino, in contrast to basically everyone else, has always been there.
“I have now been at President Trump’s side for almost 30 years,” he said in his remarks Thursday night. “He saw potential in me. A spark. The possibility that I could be more, do more, and achieve more than even I thought was possible.”
After working as the general manager of Trump National Golf Club, he moved from the Trump Organization to the 2016 campaign, where he served as Mr. Trump’s social media director.
In the White House, he has risen to be a deputy chief of staff for communications. Mr. Scavino is not a shaper of Trump administration policy, but he is a shaper of Trump tweets. (He is often the person who workshops tweets with Mr. Trump, and posts them to his Twitter feed.)
In an administration where senior officials are often caught off guard by announcements the president shares on Twitter, having some control on the account gives him a curiously powerful position in Trumpworld.
While he is often in the room, Mr. Scavino is rarely heard from. His appearance at the Republican National Convention on the final night marked a rare public foray for a behind-the-scenes staffer, and something of a reward for a staff member Mr. Trump is considers loyal and appreciates for not obviously trying to cash in on his association with the president.
His inclusion in the program built on what viewers have seen all week from White House staff members: personal testimonials vouching for a thoughtful boss whose empathy is genuine and simply not seen on the public stage. The pitch: take our word for it.
“If there is one thing I hope you will hear from me tonight, it is this — President Trump is a kind and decent man,” he said. “I wish you could be at his side with me to see his endless kindness to everyone he meets.”
Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who garnered national attention late last year after he voted against impeaching President Trump and then left the Democratic Party to become a Republican, said Thursday that the party he departed had “moved from liberal to radical” as he sought to paint his former caucus and its leaders in an uncharitable light.
Mr. Van Drew, a centrist freshman who has pledged his “undying support” for Mr. Trump and curried favor with him, praised the president once more, saying he had “made me feel more comfortable and welcome in the Oval Office than Nancy Pelosi ever made me feel in her caucus.”
“There are a lot of Democrats who support our President and are disgusted for what their old Party — what my old Party — has become,” he said. “Here’s my advice: be true to who you are now, not who the Democrats used to be.”
During his remarks, Mr. Van Drew, a former dentist and state legislator, recounted his days in the national political spotlight, framing his decision to deflect from the Democrats and oppose impeachment as an “easy call.”
He also attacked Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, echoing the Trump campaign’s prediction that once in office, the former vice president would move further to the left.
And although his vote and subsequent party change led to praise from Mr. Trump and may have helped him win the Republican primary, Mr. Van Drew now faces a tough general-election fight to continue representing the Second District, in South Jersey. His decision to switch parties enraged both Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey. And he now faces a stiff challenge in November from Amy Kennedy, an educator and mental health advocate who is the wife of former Representative Patrick J. Kennedy.
The district is Republican-leaning and was represented by a Republican for 24 years before Mr. Van Drew’s election in 2018. The Cook Political Report gives him a narrow edge in this year’s race, and by backing Mr. Trump in a nationally televised appearance, he is likely to shore up support among staunch conservatives even if, at the same time, he provides additional campaign fodder for Ms. Kennedy.
Mr. Trump won the congressional district by about five percentage points in 2016.
Ja’Ron Smith, one of the most powerful Black White House aides, on Thursday painted a very different picture of President Trump’s behavior than the one related by many Black leaders, and the families of people killed by law enforcement.
“I have seen his true conscience. I just wish everyone would see the deep empathy he shows the families whose loved ones were killed due to senseless violence,” said Mr. Smith, a former top aide to Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina.
Mr. Smith serves in a Trump White House that has few people of color in positions of real authority.
He was the driving force behind the creation of “Opportunity Zones,” the nascent tax credit program aimed at increasing investment in low income areas, and he was one of the very few Trump aides who said they had reached out to Black leaders during the protests after the killing of George Floyd this year.
“As Republicans, it’s our mission to renew the American dream, restore our way of life and rebuild the greatest economy in the world,” Mr. Smith said on Thursday. “The socialist Democrats have a different agenda.”
Mr. Smith told the story of an epiphany — a broken leg — that kept him off his high school football field and impelled him to raise his 1.9 grade point average.
In an address that replayed many of the Republican convention’s biggest catchphrases, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, said the choice before voters “could not be clearer.”
“Forward in freedom or backward in socialism,” he said. “Forward in prosperity or backward in poverty. Forward in personal liberty or backward in more government control.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Kamala Harris would “dismantle our institutions, defund our police and destroy our economy,” he added, repeating one of the most frequent lies of the week. Mr. Biden does not support defunding the police; in fact, he has explicitly rejected calls to do so.
In a speech that was mostly built on generalities, Mr. McCarthy came closest to discussing specific policies when he said President Trump had “confronted China head on, tore up bad trade deals and made better ones, supported our men and women in uniform and took out the world’s top terrorists, achieved energy independence, defended the sanctity of life, restored law and order at the border.”
Since the Democratic wave of 2018 demoted him from majority leader to minority leader — a status that does not appear likely to change in November, with Democrats favored to retain control of the House — Mr. McCarthy has carved out a niche for himself in Mr. Trump’s party. Notably, he kept House Republicans unified against impeachment.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, one of President Trump’s most prominent evangelical supporters, opened the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention with a prayer for Mr. Trump and his family, asking God to “unite our hearts to be one nation.”
Mr. Graham — the elder son of the Rev. Billy Graham, who built an evangelical empire and was for decades a spiritual adviser to presidents of both political parties before his death in 2018 — is a fierce defender of Mr. Trump and his agenda.
“Our country is facing trouble,” Mr. Graham said in his prayer, referencing “tens of thousands in the path of a deadly storm.” The pandemic, he said, “has gripped millions of hearts with fear. We’re divided. We have witnessed injustice. Anger and despair have flowed into the streets. We need your help. We need to hear your voice at this crucial hour.”
The president and chief executive of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international relief organization, the younger Mr. Graham has been a key ally in Mr. Trump’s successful efforts to cement his support among evangelical voters, especially in key swing states.
In 2016, Mr. Graham criticized the “crude comments” revealed in a 2005 tape of Mr. Trump talking about grabbing women’s private parts. But he also condemned the “godless progressive agenda” of Hillary Clinton. And after Mr. Trump won the election, Mr. Graham became a vocal defender of the president.
In 2018, after Walmart briefly sold T-shirts that said “Impeach 45,” Mr. Graham responded by selling “Pray for 45” T-shirts. In June, after Mr. Trump came under fire for using a Bible as a prop in front of a Washington, D.C., church during protests about racial injustice, Mr. Graham again defended him vigorously.
Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, accused the president of using her church “as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.” Asked later whether he was offended by the president’s behavior, Mr. Graham wrote a lengthy defense of the president on his Facebook page.
“Offended? Not at all,” he wrote. “This made an important statement that what took place the night before in the burning, looting, and vandalism of the nation’s capital — including this historic house of worship — mattered, and that the lawlessness had to end.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. responded on Thursday to Vice President Mike Pence’s blunt warning at the Republican National Convention that “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America” by saying that “the problem we have right now is we are in Donald Trump’s America.”
“If you want to talk about safety, the biggest safety issue is people dying from Covid,” Mr. Biden said in an interview on MSNBC, during which he discussed the coronavirus pandemic, the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs and the unrest over policing that has gripped the nation.
“More people have died on this president’s watch than at just about any time in American history, on a daily basis,” Mr. Biden said. “And what’s he doing, what’s he doing about it? He continues to flaunt every single basic rule and basic tenet that Democrats and Republicans both have adhered to.”
Biden responds to VP Pence’s RNC claim that “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America”:
“The problem we have right now is that we’re in Donald Trump’s America.” pic.twitter.com/hD2SSUd7z7
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 27, 2020
Addressing the unrest in Kenosha, Wis., after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, which Republicans have seized on to try to present themselves as the party of law and order, Mr. Biden condemned violence “in any form” but also said that he supported the right to protest peacefully.
And he said that he was troubled by reports that Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who was arrested in connection with shootings that left two people dead on Tuesday night, may have had “a connection to a militia in Illinois.”
“This is not who we are,” Mr. Biden said. “This is not who America is. They want to bring about some order in safety and security for people, we have to start dealing with the real problems underlying all these issues. And the president never speaks to that.”
WASHINGTON — Senator Kamala Harris said on Thursday that the Republican National Convention was operating in an alternate reality that ignored the coronavirus pandemic and unrest over the repeated police shooting of Black people.
“Unlike the Democratic convention, which was very cleareyed about the challenges we are facing and how we can tackle them, the Republican convention is designed for one purpose: to soothe Donald Trump’s ego, to make him feel good,” said Ms. Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president. “He is the president of the United States and it’s not supposed to be about him. It’s supposed to be about the health and safety and the well-being of the American people. And on that measure, Donald Trump has failed.”
The remarks, delivered to about two dozen journalists in an auditorium at George Washington University, appeared to be an attempt to focus public attention on Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, an issue avoided by most of this week’s speakers at the Republican National Convention. Very few convention speakers have addressed the nearly 180,000 Americans who have died from the virus, with discussion of the pandemic instead focusing on how China, where it originated, failed to contain the virus.
Ms. Harris, whom aides said would “prosecute the case” against Mr. Trump, said the president has “failed at the most basic and important job” of the presidency. She accused him of being too cozy with the Chinese government, citing his January statement praising the country for its transparency in dealing with the virus.
The senator couched her attack on Mr. Trump in the most personal of terms, suggesting he had choked under pressure. (The president has often ridiculed others for weakness under pressure, which he perceives as a fatal character flaw.)
“Right at the moment we needed him to be tough on the Chinese government, he caved,” Ms. Harris said. “Instead of rising to meet the most difficult moment of his presidency, Donald Trump froze. He was scared.”
Ms. Harris addressed for the first time before television cameras the Sunday police shooting of Jacob Blake, the Black man shot seven times in the back by the police in Kenosha, Wis.
“It’s sickening to watch, it’s all too familiar and it must end,” Ms. Harris said. She added that peaceful protesters should not be confused with “those looting and committing acts of violence.” An Illinois teenager was charged Wednesday with two counts of homicide after the fatal shootings of two people.
“We will not let these vigilantes and extremists derail the path to justice,” she said.
The Biden campaign will spend more than $2 million to air a two-minute ad on national networks and Fox News during coverage of the Republican National Convention tonight.
The ad spreads the campaign’s message of resilience and hope for recovery while also getting in a few not-so-subtle digs at President Trump, who is formally accepting his party’s renomination at the convention finale.
“When Joe Biden is president, America is just going to have to keep up,” the ad says, after the narrator tweaks those who “take it slow” as a shot of Mr. Trump gingerly ambling down a ramp in West Point plays. “We won’t have to wait to deal with Covid-19: He already has a plan.”
Both campaigns have been aggressively seeking to bracket the other’s conventions with paid messaging. Last week, during the Democratic convention, the Trump campaign ran an enormous digital ad operation, monopolizing the top strip of YouTube for a 96-hour stretch and taking over the home pages of The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post for 24 hours at a time. That digital buy, which cost more than $10 million, reached tens of millions of voters.
Buying lengthy ad slots has been a campaign tactic for years. Some candidates have even bought full 30-minute slots to run a campaign-produced documentary on broadcast television.
But an ad buy of this scale during the final day of a political convention is rare, even in the post-Citizens United, post-public financing world of modern political campaigns.