Republican convention heads to White House as Melania Trump takes spotlight

By John Whitesides WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican National Convention moves to the White House on Tuesday night, where first lady Melania Trump is to make the case for re-electing President Donald Trump as his race against Democrat Joe Biden takes a harsher tone. Republicans painted a dire portrait of America if former Vice President Biden wins the Nov. 3 election at a convention sharply scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Trump campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle warning on Monday that Democrats want to 'destroy this country.' Democrats on Tuesday criticized the tone of the Republican convention, saying Trump was to blame for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 177,000 Americans - more than any other country in the world - and thrown millions out of work

Reuters August 26, 2020 01:11:19 IST
Republican convention heads to White House as Melania Trump takes spotlight

Republican convention heads to White House as Melania Trump takes spotlight

By John Whitesides

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican National Convention moves to the White House on Tuesday night, where first lady Melania Trump is to make the case for re-electing President Donald Trump as his race against Democrat Joe Biden takes a harsher tone.

Republicans painted a dire portrait of America if former Vice President Biden wins the Nov. 3 election at a convention sharply scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Trump campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle warning on Monday that Democrats want to "destroy this country."

Democrats on Tuesday criticized the tone of the Republican convention, saying Trump was to blame for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 177,000 Americans - more than any other country in the world - and thrown millions out of work.

"Last night was grim and spiteful and fear-inducing," Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer told reporters in a call.

Potentially playing into the dark picture Republicans have painted, parts of Kenosha, Wisconsin, were smoldering after another night of unrest sparked by the shooting of a Black man by police. The man, who remains in intensive care, was shot in the back.

With only 70 days until the presidential election, Democrats and Republicans are getting more aggressive in their messaging.

Former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, said Trump was trying to "put his knee on the neck of democracy" by undermining mail-in ballots and sowing doubts, without evidence, about the election's legitimacy.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in 2016, said that if Biden is trailing in vote tallies on the night of the election, he should not concede defeat that night because mail ballots are expected to take longer to count.

As many as half of U.S. voters are expected to cast their votes by mail this year, more than twice as many as in 2016, but not all state and local officials have the capacity to count mail ballots as quickly as those cast in person.

Melania Trump's planned Rose Garden appearance and a remote speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while on a diplomatic trip to Israel have drawn criticism from Democrats. They question whether the use of the White House - the Republican president will give his speech accepting his party's nomination on the South Lawn on Thursday - may lead to violations of the 1939 Hatch Act, which restricts federal employees from engaging in certain political activities.

Pompeo plans to speak from Jerusalem even though he warned diplomats in July that presidential appointees should not take part in partisan activity, according to an unclassified cable reviewed by Reuters and sent to all U.S. diplomatic and consular posts abroad.

Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said Pompeo's decision to give a political speech during an overseas mission is a "blatant use of office for overtly political purposes" that undermines the critical work being done by the State Department.

On Monday, a State Department official told the pool reporter traveling with Pompeo on behalf of the U.S. media that Pompeo would speak to the convention in his personal capacity.

PRESIDENT'S DEFENDERS

The Trump campaign has shrugged off complaints about the use of federal properties like the White House as a partisan stage, and said it would ensure all staff and participants will be in compliance with the Hatch Act. The president and vice president are excluded under the law, although there could be implications for staff depending on their level of involvement.

Biden, 77, leads Trump, 74, in opinion polls, and Democrats tried to make the case at their convention last week that the former vice president would bring the steady and calm leadership needed to deal with the pandemic and its economic fallout.

Also slated to speak on Tuesday are Trump's son, Eric, and daughter, Tiffany, as well as public officials such as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

A parade of Americans will speak in defense of Trump's policies, including anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, Maine lobsterman Jason Joyce and Mary Ann Mendoza, whose son was killed by an illegal immigrant in a head-on car collision.

(Reporting by John Whitesides; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Jason Lange; Editing by Scott Malone, Soyoung Kim, Howard Goller, Paul Simao and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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