Trump previews optimistic convention message of 'American greatness'


One day after Joe Biden wrapped up the first ever virtual Democratic National Convention, President Trump gave a preview of the themes his campaign will highlight at his party’s convention next week: that America is great, except for the parts of it governed by Democrats, which are “totally out of control.”

“Over the last week, the Democrats held the darkest and angriest and gloomiest convention in American history,” Trump said at a meeting of the Council for National Policy, an exclusive organization of leading Republican donors, in Arlington, Va. “They spent four straight days attacking America as racist and a horrible country that must be redeemed. Joe Biden grimly declared a season of American darkness, and yet look at what we’ve accomplished until the plague came in.”

All week, Democrats hammered Trump over his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed nearly 175,000 Americans, and for what they described as authoritarian impulses posing a threat to the future of democracy itself. Trump’s speech Friday suggested he will attempt to counter that message with a hopeful one about “American greatness.”

“Where Joe Biden sees American darkness, I see American greatness,” Trump said. “We’ve seen heroic doctors and nurses racing into action to save lives. We’ve seen first responders helping strangers in need. We’ve seen the passage of historic legislation to save 50 million American jobs. We’ve mobilized American industry like never before.”

Yet Trump also conceded in his remarks that his reelection was far from assured, asserting that he had been “sailing” to a second term before the coronavirus pandemic reset the presidential race.

“Now I have to prove myself again,” he said.

During Biden’s acceptance speech Thursday night, the former vice president assailed Trump’s response to the pandemic, which has infected far more people in the U.S. than any other country.

“The tragedy that we face today is that it didn’t have to be this bad. The president keeps waiting around, looking for a miracle. Well, I have news for him: Mr. President, no miracle is coming,” Biden said.

In what may have been a way to test themes for the Republican convention, which begins Monday, Trump said Republicans should “reject the anger and the hate of the Democrat Party,” adding, “No party can lead America that spends so much time tearing down America.”

Yet he also devoted much of his speech to criticism of things about America he doesn’t approve of.

President Trump smiles from a podium
President Trump speaks to the 2020 Council for National Policy in Arlington, Va., on Friday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“The biggest part of last night’s speech was what Joe Biden didn’t talk about,” Trump said. “He didn’t talk about law enforcement. He didn’t talk about bringing safety to Democrat-run cities that are totally out of control and they have no clue.”

With demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police ushering in a national debate about systemic racism in American society, Trump made clear that he saw no need for police reform.

“We have to give our great police back their dignity and their power,” he said.

And then he segued into a section of his remarks that was nothing if not gloomy.

“The future of our country, and indeed our civilization, is at stake on Nov. 3,” Trump warned his audience, adding, “If our opponents prevail, no one will be safe in our country and no one will be spared. No one will be spared.”

In an update to his famous 2016 campaign boast that only he could fix what ails the country, Trump raised the stakes, portraying himself as a lone guardian against “chaos.”

“I’m the only thing standing between the American Dream and total anarchy, madness and chaos, and that’s what it is, I’m representing you. I’m just here and, uh, I’m not sure it’s an enviable position, but that’s what it is.”


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Originally published