President Donald Trump and his political allies mounted a fierce and deeply misleading defense of his political record on the first night of the Republican convention on Monday, while unleashing a barrage of attacks on Joe Biden and the Democratic Party that were unrelenting in their bleakness.
Hours after Republican delegates formally nominated Trump for a second term, the president and his party made plain that they intended to engage in sweeping revisionism about Trump’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, his record on race relations and much else. And they laid out a dystopian picture of what the United States would look like under a Biden administration, warning of a “vengeful mob” that would lay waste to suburban communities and turn quiet neighborhoods into war zones.
At times, the speakers and prerecorded videos appeared to be describing an alternate reality: one in which the nation was not nearing 180,000 dead from the coronavirus; in which Trump had not consistently ignored serious warnings about the disease; in which the president had not spent much of his term appealing openly to xenophobia and racial animus; and in which someone other than Trump had presided over an economy that began crumbling in the spring.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, delivered a vehement address that framed the election as a choice between “church, work and school” against “rioting, looting and vandalism.”
Hours earlier, Trump appeared before delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina, after they conducted a roll-call vote to formally nominate him for a second term. The president promoted the economy while blistering Biden, former President Barack Obama and North Carolina’s governor, a Democrat who he claimed had sabotaged the Republican convention for political purposes.
Trump’s stew of false claims, hyperbole and invective earlier in the day dismayed some Republicans, who were hoping he and the party would use this week to stick to more scripted attacks on Biden as a tool of the left. But most Republicans recognized heading into the week that the convention would be Trump’s show and that there was little chance of redirecting his energies.