WASHINGTON — Republicans kicked off the second night of their nominating convention Tuesday with a lineup of speakers that will focus on the economy, trade and culture debates to make the case for President Donald Trump’s re-election.
The convention, a combination of in-person and pre-taped addresses, will feature Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, first lady Melania Trump and other members of the president’s family.
Critics of Trump have continued to voice concern about whether the president is blurring the line between political and official business, a delicate balance that all presidents must navigate.
Shortly before the RNC began, the White House shared a video of Donald Trump signing a full pardon to Jon Ponder, the CEO of Hope for Prisoners, a post-prison re-entry program.
“Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” Donald Trump said in the video. Ponder, who is expected to speak at the convention in support of Trump, started his nonprofit after being convicted three times.
The White House also shared a video of Donald Trump participating in a naturalization ceremony with five new citizens.
Mary Ann Mendoza, an “angel mom,” was abruptly canceled from the speaking lineup minutes before the event started after she tweeted about a Jewish plot to enslave the world.
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Pompeo will talk about foreign policy, arguing Trump has “led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world” and “keep us safe and our freedoms intact,” according to the Trump campaign.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky will also focus on Trump’s foreign policy according to an excerpt shared by the campaign, and will say the president was committed to “end war rather than start one.”
Trump entered his convention trailing his Democratic opponent Joe Biden in the polls, as he continues to face heavy criticism for his administration’s handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Republican National Convention is a critical opportunity for the president to turn around public sentiment.
“President Trump is fighting for all of us. He delivered the best economy in our history and he will do it again,” Bob Vlaisavljevich, a Democrat and mayor of Eveleth, Minnesota, will say, according to excerpts of his speech released by the campaign. “He has made good on all of his campaign promises, and then some. He has fought to give us a fair chance to compete.”
The Tuesday programming will come with a barrage of criticism from Democrats over the location of the speeches. The coronavirus pandemic scuttled Republican plans to hold their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Melania Trump will speak from the White House Rose Garden, a departure from decades of custom that saw presidents work to keep purely political events from the grounds of the executive mansion.
Pompeo will speak while on a diplomatic trip to Israel, bucking political norms that have seen previous secretaries of state skip conventions. There are no recent examples of a secretary of state delivering a speech at a nominating convention.
The Trump family will feature prominently on Tuesday.
Eric and Tiffany Trump, two of the president’s children, will speak Tuesday evening, following their brother, Don Jr., who spoke Monday.
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The campaign said Tiffany Trump will speak to how her father has challenged the political establishment in his first term and Eric Trump will address how the president has fought for forgotten workers.
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and others are also expected to speak. The Republicans have said viewers can expect to hear from the president each night of the convention.