WASHINGTON: The Republican Party has formally nominated United States President Donald Trump for a second term in the White House on the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Charlotte, North Carolina.
There were just 336 delegates gathered in a convention centre to nominate Trump as the party’s candidate to take on Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Earlier in the day, the delegates nominated Vice President Mike Pence.
Minutes after the votes passed the threshold and officially declared Trump as the candidate, the president made a surprise appearance, walking on stage to chants of “four more years, four more years”.
Trump accused Democrats are trying to steal the election through increased mail-in voting and other means. The president hailed November’s vote as the “most important election in our history” while touting the country’s economic strength before the coronavirus pandemic.
He also derided Biden and prominent Democrats for not visiting Milwaukee, Wisconsin during their convention there last week. During his wide-ranging speech, Trump added he felt responsibility to visit North Carolina, accusing the state’s Democratic governor of politically imposing coronavirus restrictions on the convention.
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The president’s early appearance set the tone for a convention that will seek to rebut the Democratic National Convention, held almost completely digitally last week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The party also unanimously voted to forgo developing a new 2020 Republican platform during the gathering. A party resolution instead proclaimed: “Resolved: That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda”.
The next four days will have prominent appearances by Trump family members. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to address the convention with a video message taped in Jerusalem, defying decades of precedent that the chief diplomat stays out of domestic politics in an election year.
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The week will culminate in the president’s acceptance of the party’s nomination on Thursday on the South Lawn of the White House.
Pence, who spoke shortly before Trump during the roll call, summed up what are expected to be the overarching themes of the next four days. “I heard the other day that democracy is on the ballot,” Pence said, referring to Democratic messaging that Trump’s presidency presents an existential threat to the country.
“I think we all know the economy is on the ballot,” he added. “Law and order is on the ballot. Our most cherished ideals of freedom and free markets are on the ballot. We’re gonna make America great again, again,” Pence said.