First lady, son, daughter of Trump vouch for president on Day 2 of Republican Convention
WASHINGTON — First lady Melania Trump portrayed her husband as an authentic, uncompromising leader in a Rose Garden address Tuesday night as President Donald Trump turned to family, farmers and the trappings of the presidency to boost his reelection chances on the second night of the scaleddown Republican National Convention.
Mrs. Trump’s remarks, like much of the night’s prime-time program, offered a polished portrait of Trump’s presidency — at odds at times with the crises, division and unforgiving actions of his tenure in the White House.
Showing a more forgiving side with millions of voters watching, the president pardoned a reformed felon and oversaw a naturalization ceremony for several immigrants in the midst of the program, though he frequently states his vigorous opposition to more immigration, legal as well as illegal.
“In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your families,” said Mrs. Trump, an immigrant herself. “He will not give up.”
Mrs. Trump and two of his five children led a diverse collection of supporters, including a convicted bank robber, calling for Trump’s reelection on a night that featured a distinctly more positive tone than the night before.
In one of the few emotional moments of the night, Trump showed a video of himself signing a pardon for Jon Ponder, a man from Nevada who has founded an organization that helps prisoners reintegrate into society.
“We live in a nation of second chances,” Ponder said, standing alongside Trump.
“Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” Trump said before he signed the pardon.
Tuesday’s 2½-hour lineup also featured a Maine lobsterman, a Wisconsin farmer and a Native American leader. Social conservatives were represented by an anti-abortion activist and Billy Graham’s granddaughter.
The convention also featured a Kentucky high school student whose interaction last year with Native Americans at the Lincoln Memorial became a flashpoint in the nation’s culture wars. Nicholas Sandmann, who wore a Make America Great Again hat in the incident and put one on for his convention speech, said in remarks shown Tuesday that the “full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode” against him without knowing all the facts.
There was little mention of the pandemic throughout the night, although it remains a dominant issue for voters this fall.
Tuesday night, there were fierce attacks on Democrat Joe Biden throughout, although the lineup generally maintained a more positive tone — in part due to some last-minute changes.
Mary Ann Mendoza, an Arizona woman whose son, a police officer, was killed in 2014 in a car accident involving an immigrant in the country illegally, was pulled from the program minutes before the event began. She had directed her Twitter followers to a series of anti-Semitic, conspiratorial messages.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the convention and nation during an official overseas trip in Israel.
“President Trump has put his America First vision into action,” Pompeo said. “It may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it’s worked.”
The president’s son Eric and daughter Tiffany each addressed the convention. “My father rebuilt the mighty American military,” said Eric Trump, while Tiffany Trump attributed a litany of characteristics to her father’s supporters, saying “We believe in freedom of religion for all faiths.”
Mrs. Trump, 50, a native of Slovenia, was the intended star of the night.
The first lady, whose 2016 convention speech included passages similar to what former first lady Michelle Obama had said in her first convention speech, prompting a Trump Organization speechwriter to apologize, spoke Tuesday from the renovated Rose Garden, despite questions about using the White House for a political convention. She addressed an in-person group of around 50 people, including her husband.
“Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking. And that is because he’s an authentic person who loves this country and its people and wants to continue to make it better,” Mrs. Trump said. “He wants nothing more than for this country to prosper and he doesn’t waste time playing politics.”
First lady Melania Trump arrives to speak Tuesday in the Rose Garden on the second night of the Republican National Convention.
Nicholas Sandmann, a teen in a video controversy last year, puts on a Make America Great Again hat at the end of his remarks.