Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party's nomination while delivering a lengthy recap of his first term in office, as critics lined up to accuse him of abusing his presidential power again on Thursday night.
Speaking in front of the White House — in what detractors said was a violation of the Hatch Act that bars government officials from campaigning on federal property — Trump delivered a 70-minute speech assailing his rival, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and lauding his last three and a half years in office, in remarks that echoed the argument he has long made for himself.
Trump, 74, portrayed Biden as a threat to the future of the country as he again hyperbolically suggested his opponent was a leader of a "radical left" movement from which Biden has repeatedly distanced himself.
“This is the most important election in the history of our country,” the president told the crowd of about 1,500 supporters on the White House's South Lawn. “This election will decide whether we save the 'American Dream' or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.”
In what may be the president's last chance at speaking to a large crowd of supporters, as the novel coronavirus pandemic reportedly claimed its 180,635th American life on Thursday, Trump used the appearance to buttress an image of power and leadership.
Soon after he ended his address and turned to watch a five-minute firework display launching his campaign slogan over the Washington Monument, niece Mary Trump appeared on MSNBC to criticize what she said was her uncle's self-serving and careless use of power.
"He feels no shame," Mary said. "He has no humility and that's part of the reason we're in the mess we're in."
Trump's speech Thursday night featured a number of misleading claims, including that his administration quickly delivered medical supplies to hospitals around the country that repeatedly requested federal aid as the pandemic slammed pockets of the U.S. — a claim widely disputed by state and local officials.
Then the president relaxed onto his frequent attacks on Democratic state leaders, echoing but not expanding on hypotheses which other RNC speakers hammered home throughout the week: that "law and order" would be enforced around the country, if Trump was re-elected.
He has admonished ongoing protests against racial injustice that have spread to numerous cities throughout the country this summer, following the killing of George Floyd in police custody in late May.
Though he initially voiced support for Floyd, Trump labeled some protesters as "thugs," claiming Democratic governors he disdains were "allowing" violence to "take over" cities and refusing to acknowledge he was familiar with the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who died in late July after serving 17 terms in Congress.
“The problem we have right now is that we are in Donald Trump’s America,” Biden said afterward, according to the Associated Press. “He views this as a political benefit to him, he is rooting for more violence, not less. He is pouring gasoline on the fire.”
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Thursday's argument was the climax to the days-long use of the White House as the backdrop for the Republican pitch to voters in re-electing Trump — one of a handful of convention decisions that government watchdog groups labeled as an "egregious" violations of ethics.
“What we saw tonight was a disservice to the American people," former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told MSNBC afterwards. "It was a cheapening and a devaluing of the People’s House.”
At one point in his speech, Trump pointed directly at the White House while criticizing Biden.
He said: “We’re here and they’re not.”
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