U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for reelection, in a speech from the White House South Lawn on Thursday night.
“My fellow Americans, tonight, with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I proudly accept this nomination for President of the United States,” Trump said in remarks closing the 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC).
Protesters gathered outside the White House with the intention of disrupting Trump’s outdoor speech delivered before a crowd of more than 1,000 people. The Secret Service had beefed up security around the presidential residence.
Trump, 74, was a businessman and television celebrity before entering politics. He won the 2016 U.S. presidential election as a Republican by defeating then Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
This year, he will face off with former U.S. Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Biden leads Trump by 7.1 percentage points nationally. However, Trump has repeatedly dismissed polls showing him falling behind as “fake.”
On Thursday night, Trump made the case why he should be reelected, touted what he believes are accomplishments of his first term, defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and sought to draw contrast between himself and Biden.
“This is the most important election in the history of our country,” Trump said. “There has never been such a difference between two parties, or two individuals, in ideology, philosophy, or vision than there is right now.”
The remarks came amid rekindled anger over police brutality and racism in the wake of the Aug. 23 police shooting of 29-year-old African American Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which has triggered consecutive days of protests there that have erupted into chaos and violence at times.
Trump didn’t mention the shooting in his acceptance speech but went on stressing a “law and order” message, a major theme of his reelection bid, in order to appeal to his voters, while painting a doom-and-gloom picture of what the country would look like with a Biden White House.
“No one will be safe in Biden’s America,” he claimed. “There is violence and danger in the streets of many Democrat-run cities throughout America … We must always have law and order.”
Biden, in an interview with MSNBC earlier on Thursday, accused Trump of “rooting for more violence, not less.”
“He views this as a political benefit to him,” Biden said when asked about demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “And he’s clear about that. And what’s he doing, he’s pouring more gasoline on the fire.”
On Thursday afternoon, Biden’s running mate, U.S. Senator from California Kamala Harris, hit Trump on his response to the coronavirus pandemic after the country passed the grim milestone of 180,000 coronavirus deaths and nearly 5.9 million cases — more than anywhere else in the world.
“It’s relentless. You can’t stop it with a tweet. You can’t create a distraction and hope it’ll go away. It doesn’t go away. By its nature, a pandemic is unforgiving,” she said. “If you get it wrong at the beginning, the consequences are catastrophic. It’s very hard to catch up … President Trump got it wrong in the beginning.”
The finale of the 2020 RNC, under the theme “Land of Greatness,” also featured speeches from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and the president’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump.