The third night of the Republican National Convention focused on a theme of “heroes,” and continued to highlight everyday Americans. It ended with Vice President Mike Pence’s speech in the dramatic setting of Fort McHenry, where the “Star-Spangled Banner” flew and inspired the country’s national anthem. Here are a few takeaways from the third night of the Republican National Convention.
1. A Return to Realism In Foreign Policy
At the Democratic convention, Joe Biden and his co-partisans said very little about foreign policy. They mentioned China, the country’s greatest geopolitical foe, only once. Proponents and participants in various failed foreign policy interventions in recent decades did come out to endorse him, and the media presented that as a plus rather than a negative.
At the Republican convention, multiple speakers articulated a Republican foreign policy based on the national interest. Keith Kellogg, the vice president’s national security advisor, gave a wonderful speech. Subtly mocking fired National Security Advisor John Bolton, Kellogg said:
Over the past three and a half years, I have witnessed every major foreign policy and national security decision by the president. I have been in the room where it happened. I saw only one agenda and one guiding question when tough calls had to be made…is this decision right for America?…
Ask yourself, has this president kept his promises…to keep us out of needless conflicts and to pursue ending wars without end? Has he defended your interests in renegotiating trade deals that previously hurt Americans and our national security? Has he fulfilled his Commander in Chief role by decisively going after our Nation’s enemies?
You and I know, the answer is yes. The choice is clear.
Later, former Ambassador to Germany and former Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grennell gave an impressive speech. Of Trump, he said, “He called America’s endless wars what they were: A disaster. The media was shocked because Donald Trump was running as a Republican. And yet he said out loud what we all knew. That American foreign policy was failing to make Americans safer.”
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In four years, Donald Trump didn’t start any new wars. He brought troops home. He rebuilt the military, and signed peace deals that make Americans safer.
The Washington elites want you to think this kind of foreign policy is immoral. And so they call it ‘nationalist.’
That tells you all you need to know. The DC crowd thinks when they call Donald Trump a nationalist, they’re insulting him. As if the American president isn’t supposed to base foreign policy on America’s national interests!
The interventionism of recent decades was actually an aberration from Republican foreign policy. In addition to being ineffective, expensive, deadly, and leading to tremendously bad foreign policy outcomes, it was also electorally harmful.
Americans want a strong military but one that is extremely cautious about getting involved in war. And when war is called for, Americans want a clear strategy, particular outcomes that are being sought, and an exit strategy that is far shorter than, for example, our 19 years in Afghanistan.
2. Substantive Outreach to Black Voters
Hours after the evening’s events concluded, the Associated Press posted a story about the convention that was so at odds with reality that it seemed to have been written before the convention began. The article by Russ Bynum was headlined “At RNC, GOP echoes racial code of Nixon’s 1968 campaign,” and claimed the Republicans were “manipulating racial divisions to unite white voters.”
In the real world, each night of the Republican Convention has had speaker after speaker make an overt appeal for black voters to join the Republican Party and support President Donald Trump. In years past, Republican conventions have featured a few black people talking about how and why they were voting Republican.
At this convention, white and black speakers have focused on policy achievements that appeal to black voters, such as job gains for black men and women, increased funding for historically black colleges and universities, and criminal justice reform. Black friends of Trump have talked about their friendship with him. And black civil rights leaders have talked about the Republican Party’s history of sustained policy achievements for black people.
For years, the media and other Democratic activists have done what the Associated Press did last night — throw out a claim that the GOP is racist and wait for Republicans to cower in defeat. Concern about the inroads Trump was making with black voters alarmed Democratic leaders, who began race-baiting the election even earlier than usual, hyping racial grievance events in cities across the country.
What’s different about this year’s Republican National Convention and the current Republican Party is that unlike all the previous years, everyone seems eager and ready to fight the slurs from the media and other Democrats.
Last night, former NFL player Jack Brewer said, “I know what racism looks like, I’ve seen it firsthand. In America, it has no resemblance to President Trump and I’m fed up with the way he’s portrayed in the media, who refuse to acknowledge what he’s actually done for the black community.”
He asked, “Are you going to allow the media to lie to you by falsely claiming that he said there are very fine white supremacists in Charlottesville? He didn’t say that, it’s a lie.” Biden has made that lie a centerpiece of his campaign.
Vice President Mike Pence, who gave the keynote address, was smart enough to highlight the unchecked riots and violence raging in Democratic cities across the country, made far easier by the Democrats ignoring the topic at their convention last week and even suggesting support for the violent protests.
“We will have law and order on the streets of America for every American of every race and creed and color!” Pence said, receiving a standing ovation. “The American people know we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with African American neighbors to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns.”
These quotes show that the Associated Press was lying in their hit piece. They also show what a remarkably crappy job Republicans have done with black voter outreach prior to now.
Chuck Todd of MSNBC said recently, “Both campaigns tell me that there is a chance that Donald Trump could overperform with African American men. It’s a concern of the Biden campaign and it’s a focus of the Trump campaign.”
3. Strong Pro-Life Speakers
Two nights ago featured a heavy-hitter lineup of pro-life speakers, but last night did, too. Sister Deidre Byrne, a surgeon, Army colonel, and now sister in the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary spoke about “the largest marginalized group in the world” — “the unborn.”
As followers of Christ, we are called to stand up for life and against the politically correct or fashionable today. We must fight against a legislative agenda that supports and even celebrates destroying life in the womb. In fact, the laws we create define how we see our humanity. And we must ask ourselves, what are we saying when we go into a womb and snuff out an insignificant, powerless, voiceless life…
Which brings me to why I’m here tonight. Donald Trump is the most pro-life President that this nation has ever had, defending life at all stages. His belief in the sanctity of life transcends politics. President Trump will stand up against Biden/Harris who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide.
Tera Lee Myers, who works on school choice issues, spoke of her son with Down syndrome and how doctors tried to get her to kill him in the womb. She told a story of how President Trump invited her son Samuel to the White House.
And retired Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz gave an affectionate speech about Trump. He said that one of the reasons he trusts Trump is because of his commitment to the pro-life cause.
4. Chen Guangcheng
One of the most riveting speeches was given by pro-life hero and Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who was persecuted for speaking out against China’s “one-child policy,” a policy Biden has publicly countenanced. Reading his speech in Braille, Guangcheng described some of the horrors of the Communist Chinese system:
The CCP is focused on power and control, and acts without regard to the law or to human rights. Countless activists have disappeared or are under house arrest. Just consider the sad plight of the Uyghurs in concentration camps.
Outside its borders, the CCP ignores international treaties and norms, whether it is violating the rights of Hong Kong, cheating on trade deals, threatening Taiwan, or exploiting the World Health Organization.
The coronavirus pandemic, originating in China—and covered up by the CCP—has caused mass death and social upheaval around the world.
In the same way, the virus of the CCP is threatening the people of the world. The policy of appeasement of former administrations—including Obama and Biden—has allowed the CCP to infiltrate and corrode different aspects of the global community.
The Chinese Communist Party goes through the dance of diplomacy . . . but it seeks to make the rest of the world bow to its authoritarian vision. The CCP is waiting patiently for the US and other democracies to bend to its will under fear of economic retribution.
It was a far cry from the Democratic Convention, which did not mention China but once. Guangcheng ended by endorsing Trump.
5. Media Spiraling
The media gushed over the Democratic National Convention, even though it was dark and depressing. By contrast, many in the media have lashed out against the Republican Convention, sometimes ridiculously so.
NBC News veteran Andrea Mitchell was upset that Pence fist-bumped a disabled war veteran after his speech. “Social distancing,” she tweeted.
Rachel Maddow of MSNBC broke away from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s speech because Maddow felt it was “very wrong” to say that cities have been hit hard by crime and looting. She brought on Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to dispute the claim. Earlier this week, Seattle rioters tried to seal police officers inside a building using quick-dry cement, in order to kill them.
Some reporters were mad that Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York spoke from his own district in, well, New York. He spoke from Westhampton on Long Island, which reporters confused with nicer parts of the area.
Early in the evening, Madison Cawthorn, the Republican candidate for North Carolina’s 11th District, spoke from his wheelchair. Severely injured in a car crash when he was 20, Cawthorn is partially paralyzed. At the end of his speech, he lifted himself out of his wheelchair to deliver his final lines, “Be a radical for our republic. For which I stand. One nation. Under God. With liberty and justice for all.”
Yamiche Alcindor, an activist journalist employed by PBS and MSNBC, was outraged.
6. Stagecraft And Enthusiasm
Conventions in recent years have become much more focused on TV presentations than substantive locations of discussion and debate. This year made that even more pronounced as the coronavirus restrictions killed the lively debate about platforms. But the stagecraft is important and this year it’s been excellent. The setting of Pence’s speech was beautiful. And the evenings have had nice themes that get revisited throughout.
Cawthorn stood up at the end of his speech. Guangcheng repeatedly talked about how difficult it is to “stand up to tyranny.” And when Pence concluded his speech, Trace Adkins came out to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When he did so, a group of disabled war veterans got up, some with great difficulty, and stood with respect for the country they serve and its symbols.
Democrats pushed a simple theme of “darkness vs. light,” at one point having Biden kind of walk from the dark into the light. Unfortunately, his last moments at his convention were shrouded under a dark mask on a dark stage outside.
Last night, Ari Fleischer commented on how new it was to see large groups of people praising Donald Trump. He said that conventions that repeat platitudes don’t move voters but ones that give people something new to reflect on do.
Because of the media being so hysterically anti-Trump and suppressing the news, this convention is the first time in about four years that non-leftist Americans have seen other Americans reflecting their positive views about Trump and the administration. It’s emboldening for Republican and Independent voters as they prepare for the fall campaign that will surely include many surprises.