Donald Trump has been officially nominated as the Republican Party’s candidate in November’s presidential election, as the Republican National Convention kicked-off in North Carolina on Monday.
Speaking to delegates at the Charlotte convention centre, the US president said the country would go in a “horrible” direction if the Democrats retook the White House in November.
Arriving to chants of “four more years”, he said. “If you really want to drive them crazy, say 12 more years.”
He launched an immediate broadside against the Democrats, accusing the previous White House administration of spying on his 2016 election campaign. “We caught them doing really bad things,” he said of former president Barack Obama and his vice-president – and opponent in November – Joe Biden. “Let’s see what happens. They’re trying it again,” he said.
Mr Trump hailed his track record in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak and the economy. “Our economy is coming up rapidly, our farmers are doing well,” he said. “Think of your life just prior to the plague coming – it was the best it had ever been.”
Noting that Mr Biden had not travelled to Wisconsin, which hosted last week’s Democratic convention, he said that it was important that he visited North Carolina for the Republican event. “We did this out of respect for your state,” he said. He also hit out at postal or mail-in voting as the “greatest scam in the history of politics”. “They’re going to mail out 80 million ballots. Who’s mailing them? Mostly Democratic states and Democratic governors. Supposing they don’t mail them to Republican neighbourhoods?” he said.
“They will take your guns away . . . Our country will never be a socialist country,” he declared to cheers of “USA, USA!”
‘Drain that swamp’
Vice-president Mike Pence also addressed delegates. “Today is about four more years. This week we will take our case to the American people,” he said. “Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have been overtaken by the radical left. Their agenda is higher taxes, socialised medicine, open borders, abortion on demand and cutting funding to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.”
“Four more years means more judges, four more years means more support for our troops and our cops. And it’s going to take at least four more years to drain that swamp.”
On the opening day of the four-day convention, delegates from around the US participated in the traditional “roll call”, where representatives of each state nominated their choice for president.
Announcing his state’s nomination, the chair of the Montana Republican Party, Don Kaltschmidt, said his delegation was renaming the state “Trump-tana”.
Noting that Montana has “at least five guns in every home”, he said: “We love the second amendment and we love you President Trump.
“Montana affectionately and enthusiastically gives its 27 votes to President Donald J Trump. God Bless America!”
Following Monday’s opening ceremonies in Charlotte, most of the remainder of the convention will take place virtually.
Among the speakers due to address the convention on Monday night were former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Halley, and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York. The high-profile cleric previously spoke at the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2012, but has been a vocal supporter of Mr Trump, delivering a prayer at his inauguration ceremony in January 2017.
His appearance at the Republican National Convention comes despite the fact that Mr Trump’s rival Joe Biden will be the first Catholic US president since John F Kennedy if elected in November.
Kellyanne Conway, the long-time Trump adviser who announced on Sunday that she would be resigning from her role at the end of the month, is also due to address the convention on Wednesday.
Her husband, George Conway, also announced at the weekend he was stepping back from the anti-Trump group, the Lincoln Project, for family reasons. It followed a series of social media posts from their 15-year-old daughter Claudia who said she wanted to be “emancipated” from her parents and said she had been “physically and verbally abused”.
The Conways have publicly disagreed on Mr Trump, with Ms Conway remaining one of the president’s most loyal supporters while her husband, a respected conservative lawyer, has been highly critical of him.
In a statement, Ms Conway described her experience in the White House as “heady” and “humbling”. Referring to her husband, she said: “We disagree about plenty but we are united on what matters most: the kids,” adding: “for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.”