(CN) — An abnormal and crisis-clouded Republican Convention came to an end on Thursday night as orators double-downed on “law and order” as President Donald Trump accepted the party’s re-nomination on the lawn of the White House.
The final night of the convention, titled “Land of Greatness,” was intended to highlight “America’s long history of greatness, how President Trump is restoring that greatness, and how he will keep fighting for it in a second term.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson were among the GOP stars to applaud Trump on Thursday for moves that include his handling of race issues.
“One of the first things he did as president was bring the Office of Historically Black Colleges and Universities into the White House so that it could get proper attention and financial support. Before the pandemic, African American unemployment was at an all-time low,” Carson said.
He added that President Trump does not “dabble in identity politics,” Rather, Carson said, “He wants everyone to succeed and believes in the adage, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’”
“Many on the other side love to incite division by claiming that President Trump is a racist. They could not be more wrong,” he added.
Trump has been criticized for his portrayal of equality protesters as “anarchists.” Recent polling finds that Americans believe the president is doing little to improve race relations. A Fox News poll released in August found more people trusted Democratic candidate Joe Biden over Trump on handling race relations, 53% to 34%.
“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,” Trump said in his acceptance speech. “And this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life or whether we allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.”
“The problem we have right now is that we are in Donald Trump’s America,” Biden said in a Thursday interview on MSNBC. “He views this as a political benefit to him, he is rooting for more violence, not less. He is pouring gasoline on the fire.”
Alongside Pat Lynch, the head of New York City’s Police Benevolent Association, the prominent speakers slammed Biden for an alleged disdain of law enforcement.
“Like cops across this country, we are staring down the barrel of a public safety disaster. More than one thousand people have been shot and three hundred killed in New York City so far this year,” Lynch said.
According to Lynch, Democrats in power are shunning law enforcement and passing laws that he says are making it hard for officers to do their jobs.
His comments come two days after a 17-year-old white Illinois resident allegedly shot and killed two Black Lives Matter protesters during a demonstration over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Donald Trump has failed at the most basic and important job of a president of the United States: He failed to protect the American people, plain and simple,” Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris said in a counter-programming speech.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell on Thursday warned viewers that Democrats did not want to “improve life in America,” adding that they “want to tell you what kind of car you can drive. What information you can consume. Even how many hamburgers you can eat.”
In July, sparked by Black Lives Matter protests against the killing of George Floyd and against systemic police brutality, Biden referred to Trump as America’s first racist president.
The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump joined the RNC on Thursday to dub Biden “another empty vessel who will do whatever the media and the fringe of his party demands.”
President Trump accepted his party’s nomination from the White House lawn on Thursday, prompting criticism from those who say the move violates the Hatch Act.
“This is not normal; this is not okay. Yes, the pandemic means that conventions have to scramble to do things a little differently this year, but you do not hold political rallies at the White House,” Steven Greene, a political science professor at NC State University, told Courthouse News over email Thursday night.
Apparently sticking to the script during his acceptance speech, Trump repeated his claim that he has done more than any other president to address issues of systemic racism that have sparked nationwide protests.
The president attacked Biden at several points in his speech, claiming that the former vice president would “destroy” the country.
“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.”
He also lauded his administration’s response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“In recent months, our nation and the entire planet has been struck by a new and powerful invisible enemy. Like those brave Americans before us, we are meeting this challenge,” he said. “We are delivering life saving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner.”
Trump derided Biden for his comment on being willing to shut down the country if necessary to combat the pandemic.
“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,” Trump said. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather it is a surrender to the virus.”
The president has been contradicted by White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci on the timeline of a potential vaccine, saying 2021 would be the earliest the U.S. could see one.
Trump told convention viewers his efforts to fight the virus derived from “the science, the facts and the data,” despite most claims from the scientific community pointing to the contrary.
Dan Scavino, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications said to viewers “If there is one thing I hope you will hear from me tonight, it is this — President Trump is a kind and decent man. I wish you could be at his side with me to see his endless kindness to everyone he meets.”
“The Republicans achieved their goal with the convention,” Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, told Courthouse News. “They consistently touted President Trump’s accomplishments, particularly those they thought would appeal to African American and female voters, and simultaneously gave plenty of forceful appeals to their party base, made sure we saw the American flag, denounced China and drew clear contrasts with Joe Biden.”
Closing out the convention, Trump mentioned Hurricane Laura, which tore across the Gulf Coast earlier on Thursday, killing six people.
Telling the convention that he will visit the impacted area this weekend, Trump said his thoughts are with the “wonderful people who have just come through the wrath of Hurricane Laura.”
“We are so used to President Trump breaking all kinds of norms that it can be a little too easy to let each new one pass. But, regardless of the content of his speech (which, honestly, is pretty much a greatest hits collection– the Socialist Democrats will ruin everything and criminals and illegal immigrants will overrun the streets), the most important take-away is that it is not okay to use the White House as a blatant political prop,” Greene told Courthouse News in an email interview on Thursday.
“Sadly, though, like so much breaking of norms which keep our democracy this will likely fall by the wayside with little fanfare,” Greene added.