President Trump formally accepted the GOP nomination for reelection on Thursday evening in front of a sea of guests on the White House South Lawn to close out the 2020 Republican National Convention.
“We are one national family and we will always protect, love and care for each other,” Trump, 74, said to thunderous applause from the crowd of supporters after emerging from the White House with first lady Melania Trump to the sounds of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”
Trump alternated between slamming Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and offering what he said was a positive vision for the country to wild cheers of “four more years!” from 1,500 supporters in white lawn chairs.
The speech concluded with a fireworks display at the Washington Monument that put the capital city’s annual Fourth of July display to shame — including stars and flashes that spelled out “Trump” and “2020” in the sky.
Trump spoke as anti-police brutality activists demonstrated loudly outside the White House fence, blaring fog horns and chanting — continuing months of unrest linked to the May killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota.
“Joe Biden is weak,” Trump told the audience. “Just imagine if the so-called peaceful demonstrators in the streets were in charge of every lever of power in the US government. Just think of that.”
In a lengthy, 70-minute speech, Trump contrasted what he said was Biden’s downcast vision with his own vows to continue to tax cuts, land a woman on the moon, lower prescription drug costs, “keep America out of endless and costly foreign wars” and ensure the US takes its “business out of China.”
Trump said he also would be a better manager of the coronavirus pandemic, vowing that the US “will produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner.”
He called COVID-19, which killed about 180,000 Americans since March, the “China virus,” and optimistically said the US is “quickly returning to full employment, soaring incomes, and record prosperity.”
He highlighted Biden’s criticism of his February travel ban on China, and said Biden would impose a ruinous national shutdown. “The cost of the Biden shutdown would be measured in increased drug overdoses, depression, alcohol addiction, suicides, heart attacks, economic devastation and more — Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump said.
The address began on an emotional note as he thanked first lady Melania Trump and his family, saying, “I love you more than words can express,” and paid tribute to his late brother, Robert Trump, who passed away this month.
Trump settled on the site for the speech last month after he was forced to cancel a raucous, in-person convention in Jacksonville amid the pandemic, and in an Oval Office interview told The Post he believed a White House address would make the country “feel good.”
The president’s GOP crowning on Thursday completes his takeover of a party which just four years ago considered him an interloper. Against all odds, the Manhattan property developer and former Democrat triumphed in 2016 over a field of insider candidates.
“The Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, goes forward united, determined and ready to welcome millions of Democrats, independents and anyone who believes in the greatness of America,” Trump told the crowd.
“Four years ago I ran for president because I could not watch this betrayal of our country any longer,” Trump said. “I could not sit by as career politicians let other countries take advantage of us on trade borders, foreign policy and national defense.”
Trump said that he broke “the cardinal rule of Washington politics — I kept my promises.”
The president presented the election stakes as stark against the Democratic nominee.
“Joe Biden is not the savior of America’s soul – he is the destroyer of America’s jobs, and if given the chance, he will be the destroyer of American greatness,” Trump said. “He takes his marching orders from liberal hypocrites who drive their cities into the ground while fleeing far from the scene of the wreckage.”
Trump told his audience that “your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators, and criminals who threaten our citizens.”
“If Joe Biden doesn’t have the strength to stand up to wild-eyed Marxists like Bernie Sanders and his fellow radicals… then how is he ever going to stand up for you?” Trump said. “Our opponents say that redemption for you can only come from giving power to them. This is a tired anthem spoken by every repressive movement throughout history.”
“At the Democrat National Convention Joe Biden and his party repeatedly assailed America as a land of racial, economic, and social injustice. So tonight, I ask you a very simple question: How can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?” Trump said.
Trump continued an ambitious play for black votes that was a theme each night of the mostly virtual Republican convention. He said he had done more for African-Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln.
“I’ve done more in three years for the black community than Joe Biden has done in 47 years — and when I’m reelected, the best is yet to come!” he said, mentioning his signing of the criminal justice system-reforming First Step Act and incentives for investment in poor areas.
Biden would “demolish the suburbs, confiscate your guns, and appoint justices who will wipe away your Second Amendment,” he said.
Trump regaled the crowd with an account of the “ tenacious generals” and “larger-than-life figures “ that were his predecessors in the White House and listed various policy accomplishments. He described his reelection as a would-be tribute to America.
“We understand that America is not a land cloaked in darkness, America is the torch that enlightens the entire world,” he said.
“We are not a nation of timid spirits. We are a nation of fierce, proud and independent American patriots. We are a nation of pilgrims, pioneers, adventurers, explorers and trailblazers who refuse to be tied down, held back, or in any way reined in…. There is no one like us on Earth.”