United States First Lady Melania Trump hugs and kisses her husband, President Donald Trump, after addressing the Republican National Convention, August 25, 2020 (Reuters)
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WASHINGTON – First lady Melania Trump urged voters to re-elect her husband during an impassioned speech to the Republican National Convention (RNC) on Tuesday that offered sympathy for victims of the coronavirus pandemic and a plea for racial understanding.
On the second day of the convention with 70 days to go until the November 3 election, the speech’s warm tone was out of step with a Republican gathering that featured harsh rhetoric about Democratic challenger Joe Biden and sometimes apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of Democratic governance.
“I don’t want to use this precious time attacking the other side because, as we saw last week, that kind of talk only serves to divide the country further,” Melania Trump told a crowd seated in the White House’s Rose Garden, including her husband, President Donald Trump, in the front row.
In a speech aimed at disaffected suburban women voters who have abandoned Donald Trump, the first lady acknowledged the pain of the coronavirus pandemic in a way few other speakers at the Republican convention have.
“Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic,” she said. “My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one.”
Melania Trump also reflected on the racial unrest that has swept the country in the months since the death in May of George Floyd under the knee of a white policeman in Minnesota.
“I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice, and never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin,” she said.
The speech by Melania Trump, whose 2016 address was marred by plagiarism of lines from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech, capped a day when Republicans sought to reshape the narrative around the economy by largely ignoring millions of jobs lost to the coronavirus pandemic, which has cost more than 177 000 Americans their lives.
It was a case of emphasising a strength for Trump, who still scores well in opinion polls on his handling of the economy even as approval of his handling of the pandemic and other issues has plunged.
A former reality television star, Trump, 74, used videos of a naturalization ceremony and signing a pardon to suggest that he is not anti-immigrant or a hardliner on crime - even as the convention has emphasized his law-and-order approach. (Reuters)