Vice President Mike Pence will make the case for a second term for himself and President Donald Trump Wednesday, capping a night at the Republican National Convention designed to emphasize the military, law enforcement and public displays of patriotism.
Pence is scheduled to speak from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the site of a battle in the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner.” Trump formally accepts his party’s nomination on Thursday. As he has on the previous two nights of the convention, the president is also expected to be part of the program on Wednesday.
The vice president’s appearance will involve combat veterans, according to people who asked not to be identified because it is intended as a surprise for viewers, with imagery intended at least in part as criticism of professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem.
Pence will speak in optimistic tones “honoring what makes America great” and outline the accomplishments of the Trump administration compared with “platitudes” from Biden, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said on a call with reporters on Wednesday.
Republicans have sought to capitalize on U.S. cultural divides and present themselves as defenders of freedom, while portraying Democrats and nominee Joe Biden as socialists bent on trampling American values. Democrats painted Trump at their convention last week as an incompetent and corrupt chief executive who threatens democracy.
Murtaugh said Pence, who leads the administration’s coronavirus task force, will also defend the administration’s handing of the pandemic “despite, he will note, a media obsessed with whatever the day-to-day distractions are in the swamp in Washington D.C.” — not acknowledging that Trump himself often causes such distractions.
Democrats have hammered Trump for reacting too slowly to the pandemic that has killed more than 179,000 Americans, saying it would disappear and failing to marshal a national response plan. Republicans largely avoided focusing on the virus during their convention until first lady Melania Trump spoke at length on Tuesday night with sympathy for victims, saying her husband “will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted.”
The theme of Wednesday night’s program is “land of heroes,” and among the scheduled speakers are Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw, a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL veteran, and retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to the vice president. Richard Grenell, former acting Director of National Intelligence and U.S. ambassador to Germany, also is scheduled to speak.