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9:20 AM / Saturday May 8, 2021

27 Aug 2020

GOP Convention takeaways: Pence pounces while crises swirl

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August 27, 2020 Category: Sun Report Posted by:

By JONATHAN LEMIRE and STEVE PEOPLES

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans proceeded with the third night of their national convention, but many Americans — particularly those in the path of Hurricane Laura — were focused on more immediate concerns.

Takeaways:

PENCE TAKES ON ATTACK ROLE

The attack role often assigned to vice presidential candidates is an ill-fitting suit for the typically genial Vice President Mike Pence, but on Wednesday he took it on, with relish.

He also laid bare the case that he and President Donald Trump will press in the fall campaign, with an emphasis on backing law enforcement, while saying little about Black Americans killed or maimed by police shootings. “We’re not going to defund the police,” Pence said.

“Joe Biden said America is systemically racist,” Pence said, criticizing the Democratic challenger as soft on crime. “The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

In a speech from Fort McHenry in Maryland, the site of the 1812 battle that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner,” he added: “Law and order are on the ballot. … The choice in this election is whether America remains America.”

With Trump trailing in the polls, Pence has endured months of rumors that he could be replaced on the ticket. But the president has singled him out for praise repeatedly in recent weeks, and his place, decidedly second to Trump, seems safe.

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The president joined Pence onstage after his speech.

CRISES DRAIN CONVENTION ATTENTION

A political convention is the most scripted, tightly controllable of events, especially when it is mostly virtual and much of it is prerecorded.

That is, until events beyond the control of convention planners make the political ritual seem almost inconsequential.

As Republicans gathered, a massive hurricane was taking aim at the Gulf Coast, wildfires continued to scorch California and the National Guard was being deployed to a city in the battleground state of Wisconsin after a white police officer shot a Black man. And all the while a deadly pandemic continued to claim the lives of nearly 1,000 Americans a day.

In true Trump style, though, campaign officials said the show must go on, so far anyway.

Officials said the president had been regularly briefed and may visit the Gulf by early next week. But the hurricane threatened to shine a spotlight on Trump’s poor handling of other disasters, including Hurricane Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico — and, even more dramatically, the pandemic itself.

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