What You Need to Know From Night 1 of the RNC

Donald Trump Jr., Nikki Haley among speakers on first night
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2020 7:31 PM CDT
Updated Aug 25, 2020 6:27 AM CDT
It's the Republicans' Turn Now
President Trump speaks during the first day of the Republican National Convention Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte, NC.   (Travis Dove/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

The Republican National Convention got underway Monday, a four-night affair that will culminate with President Trump's acceptance speech Thursday night. Trump, though, is breaking with tradition and is expected to speak on all four nights. In fact, he made surprise remarks early during Monday's proceedings after being formally nominated. (An AP fact check concludes that he "made a dizzying array of misleading claims about voting fraud" as well as health care.) At the end of the night, the AP declared Trump "omnipresent"; in addition to appearing during the night's events, he of course also tweeted about them. Other big speakers included Donald Trump Jr.; Nikki Haley; Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black GOP senator; and Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple from St. Louis who were initially charged after waving guns at Black Lives Matters protesters, per the Washington Post. Highlights:

  • Dire warnings: Per Politico, a major theme of the night was the warning of "chaos" if Joe Biden wins in November. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, who kicked things off, called Trump the "bodyguard of Western civilization" who was "elected to protect our families from the vengeful mob that seeks to destroy our way of life, our neighborhoods, schools, churches and values." A Cuban-American businessman compared Biden to Fidel Castro. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said, "We must fight to save America now or we may lose her forever," saying a Biden presidency would be a "horror film" involving citizens' firearms being taken away, prisons being emptied, and the MS-13 gang running rampant.

  • Emphatic speeches from Trump Jr. and his girlfriend: Trump's eldest son called Biden the "Loch Ness monster of the swamp"; Fox News has more on his address here. His girlfriend, and Trump's campaign finance chair, Kimberly Guilfoyle, also gave a passionate speech; both of them kept with the theme of dark warnings should Biden win. KTLA says they painted California, in particular, as a "dangerous, dystopian wasteland." Many news outlets have made note of the particularly passionate delivery Guilfoyle used; the Hill says she delivered her speech at a "near-constant shout."
  • Black Americans speak up for Trump: Former NFL player Herschel Walker, who has known Trump for nearly four decades, said, "Growing up in the Deep South, I’ve seen racism up close, I know what it is, and it isn’t Donald Trump." As for Scott, he gave the last big speech of the night, per CNN. He mentioned George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and cited Biden's history as a senator to claim he would not defend minority communities. "Joe Biden said if a Black man didn't vote for him, he wasn't truly Black. Joe Biden said Black people are a monolithic community. Joe Biden said poor kids can be just as smart as white kids. And while his words are one thing, his actions take it to a whole new level." Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones said, per the AP, that he is a "lifelong Democrat" who is for Trump. "The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave the mental plantation they’ve had us on for decades," he said.
  • Strong words from Haley: Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, said, per Politico: "My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. We faced discrimination and hardship, but my parents never gave into grievance and hate. It’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country."
  • Health care workers speak up for Trump: A nurse and a surgeon both touted Trump's coronavirus response. "Let me be clear, as a health care professional, I can tell you without hesitation Donald Trump's quick action and leadership saved thousands of lives during COVID-19," nurse Amy Johnson Ford said. Trump was also seen during the night thanking frontline workers including healthcare professionals, truck drivers, and small-business owners.
  • Parent of Parkland victim blames the left: Andrew Pollack, whose teen daughter was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, said, "Gun control laws didn't fail my daughter, people did. Far-left Democrats in our school district made this shooting possible." He said of Trump, "I truly believe the safety of our kids depends on whether this man is re-elected."
  • St. Louis couple speaks out: Among Mark McCloskey's comments: "Not a single person in the out-of-control mob that you saw at our house was charged with a crime. But you know who was? We were. They actually charged us with felonies for daring to defend our home."
  • Biden's camp responds: "If you tuned into the Republican convention tonight looking for some indication from President Trump that he has a strategy to contain the coronavirus, you’re still waiting," said Biden's deputy campaign manager, per Fox News. "What you heard tonight was a parade of dark and divisive fear-mongering designed to distract from the fact that Donald Trump does not have an affirmative case to make to the American people about why he should be re-elected."
(More Republican National Convention stories.)

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