Closing out a GOP convention that featured rampant law-breaking, fascistic hysteria, and cynical distortions of the current administration’s record, President Donald Trump delivered more of the same Thursday night as he formally accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination while protesters rallied near the White House blasting music and spotlighting Trump’s deadly failure to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sound of demonstrators’ air horns was occasionally and faintly audible during the president’s speech from the South Lawn of the White House, which Trump shamelessly used as a stage for his reelection bid. One ethics expert decried the White House campaign speech as an “abomination” that is perhaps “the most visible misuse of official position for private gain in America’s history.”
Trump’s hour-long address before an audience of 1,500 largely mask-less cabinet officials, Republican lawmakers, and other supporters of the president was jam-packed with fearmongering, “law and order” dog whistles, and lies about the administration’s efforts to fight the coronavirus, which Trump repeatedly called the “China virus.”
“When the China virus hit, we launched the largest national mobilization since World War II, invoking the Defense Production Act,” said the president, who in fact stubbornly resisted utilizing the Defense Production Act despite vocal pleas from experts and frontline workers.
Contrary to his depiction of the White House’s pandemic response as swift and coordinated, Trump dragged his feet and repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus as it spread rapidly across the United States in March.
As recently as last month, the president insisted that the virus will simply “disappear” on its own as new infections surged across the country, forcing states to reverse their reopenings and sparking another wave of mass lay-offs. In an interview that aired earlier this month, the president said, “It is what it is” in response to the nation’s Covid-19 death toll, which is the highest in the world.
On Thursday night, with the official coronavirus case count in the U.S. approaching six million, Trump claimed the nation will “have a safe and effective vaccine this year, and together we will crush the virus.”
As fireworks erupted at the close of Trump’s remarks, nearly two dozen demonstrators near the White House stood shoulder to shoulder to send an illuminated message: “Trump Failed, 180,000+ Died.”
As fireworks lit up the Washington Monument at the end of President Trump’s speech, protesters gathered around another light display criticizing his response to the pandemic.
“Trump Failed,” the illuminated signs read. “180,000 + Died.” #DCProtests pic.twitter.com/C8oDpQnxlH
This is our most crucial fundraising drive in years. Maybe ever. Please support our nonprofit journalism and help us reach our $80,000 Summer Campaign goal.
Please select a donation method:
— Fredrick Kunkle WaPo (@KunkleFredrick) August 28, 2020
As Trump spoke, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden—whose name the president mentioned more than 40 times in his address—condemned Trump’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic collapse, which has left tens of millions of Americans jobless, hungry, and at risk of eviction.
“Donald Trump calls himself a wartime president. But now, instead of leading the charge to defeat this virus, he’s waved the white flag,” Biden tweeted. “He abandoned the American people when we needed him most.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), smeared by the president as a “wild-eyed Marxist,” fact-checked the president’s speech in real time on Twitter Thursday night.
In response to Trump’s vow to “protect Medicare and Social Security,” Sanders noted that the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 “cuts Medicare by $845 billion” and highlighted Trump’s promise less than three weeks ago to “defund Social Security by permanently terminating the payroll tax.”
The president claimed he “will always and very strongly protect patients with preexisting conditions,” but the Vermont senator pointed out that Trump is “now in court actively trying to take health insurance away from 32 million Americans and eliminate protections for preexisting conditions during a global pandemic.”
Sanders went on to agree with Trump’s characterization of the November election as the “most important” in U.S. history.
“Yes,” Sanders tweeted, “this is the most important election in history. And you are the most dangerous president in the history of our country. That’s why you’re going to lose.”