The Republican National Convention got underway on Monday, and a series of speakers warned voters that President Trump is the only bulwark protecting them from a raging mob.
Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, set the theme for the evening when he said “Trump is the bodyguard of western civilization.” Several speakers also made the case that Black voters should back Trump.
The first night featured speeches from Donald Trump, Jr., former ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott and several other speakers with memorable moments.
Here are the five key takeaways:
Appeal to Black voters
Though much of the evening was a warning against Black Lives Matter protests, many of the speakers also made an overt appeal for Black votes. Sen. Tim Scott, the lone Black Republican in Congress, closed out the evening. He argued that Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, had backed the 1994 crime bill “that put millions of Black Americans behind bars,” and that he sees Black voters as a “monolith.”
Retired NFL player Herschel Walker and Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones also vouched for Trump. Walker argued that Trump is not a racist. “Growing up in the deep South, I have seen racism up close,” Walker said. “I know what it is. And it isn’t Donald Trump.”
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Several other speakers also made the case to Black voters, including Trump Jr. and Haley.
“Of course we value and respect every Black life,” Haley said. “The Black cops who have been shot in the line of duty — they matter. The Black small business owners who’ve watched their lives’ work go up in flames — they matter. The Black kids who’ve been gunned down on the playground — their lives matter too.”
Mark and Patty McCloskey against the mob
The couple became famous when they brandished firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their St. Louis home, and they have since each been charged with unlawful use of a weapon. Seated side-by-side at their home, they warned viewers that Democrats want to “abolish the suburbs.”
“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country,” Patty McCloskey said. “No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”
Kimberly Guilfoyle’s battle cry
The former Fox News personality (and ex-wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom), delivered a high-decibel harangue against socialists and in support of Trump’s second term.
“Rioters must not be allowed to destroy our cities,” she said. “Human, sex, drug traffickers should not be allowed to cross our border.”
The speech got more amped up from there, warning that the Democrats “want to destroy this country” and “enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal, victim ideology.”
She began to shout — “You have the ability to choose your life and determine your destiny!”
“Don’t let the Democrats and their socialist comrades take you for granted,” she said. “Don’t let them step on you. Don’t let them destroy your families, your lives and your future!”
And then the pivot:
“President Trump is the leader who will rebuild the promise of America and ensure that every citizen can realize their American Dream! Ladies and gentlemen, leaders and fighters for freedom and liberty and the American Dream — the best is yet to come!”
The selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate gave the speakers ample opportunity to trash her home state.
Guilfoyle said that California represents the socialist future that Biden and Harris would bring to America.
“It is a place of immense wealth, immeasurable innovation and immaculate environment — and the Democrats turned it into a land of discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets and blackouts in homes!” Guilfoyle said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz also took a few shots at California and the movie business, saying that dystopian fantasies are coming true. “Blaming our best, and allowing society’s worst — that’s the story they write in Hollywood, that’s if the lights even stay on in California anymore.”
In his prepared remarks, Gaetz made another Hollywood reference, saying that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was urging her supporters to back Biden because “it’ll be like ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ — and they’ll be pulling the strings.” But the reference to the ’80s classic was cut out of the final speech.
Sen. Scott also attacked Democrats’ COVID-19 relief bill, saying the tax measures would “help Manhattan elites and Hollywood moguls get a tax break.”
Elaborate “It’s a Wonderful Life” metaphor
Natalie Harp, a member of the Trump campaign’s advisory board, built her speech around reimagining “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with Trump in the George Bailey role.
“Without you, we’d all be living in Pottersville, sold out to a crooked Mr. — or I should say a crooked Mrs. — Potter, with no hope of escape except death itself,” Harp said.
Harp returned to the theme at the end of her address, quoting Bailey’s father: “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”
“Mr. President,” she said, “that makes you the richest man in the world.”