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On Night 1 of RNC, speakers paint ominous picture of American life under Biden

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this piece misidentified Charlie Kirk.

On Night 1 of the Republican National Convention, speakers made their pitches for why President Trump should win a second term. Supporters praised Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed at least 178,000 people in the U.S., but much of the night’s content took an ominous, threatening tone when describing what a Joe Biden presidency would look like. Amna Nawaz reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Republican National Convention rolls into night two, with first lady Melania Trump topping the list of speakers. That follows an opening night assault on President Trump's Democratic opponent.

    Correspondent Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    No public appearances from the president today, after a number of appearances last night, as Republicans kicked off their national convention with a virtual affair.

    Supporters of President Trump made their pitch for his reelection in a series of pretaped speeches…

  • Charlie Kirk:

    Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    … and pre-produced segments. While he wasn't on stage, President Trump was front and center.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We have six incredible people.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Hosting a conversation with six former hostages freed under his administration.

  • Man:

    You took unprecedented steps to secure my release.

  • President Donald Trump:

    These are my friends.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And chatting with essential workers on the front lines in the pandemic.

  • President Donald Trump:

    These are great, great people, doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    While the program featured a parade of praise for Mr. Trump's response to COVID-19…

  • Woman:

    And we have President Trump to thank.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    … there was no mention of the more than 178,000 Americans who have died so far.

  • Narrator:

    A man who works tirelessly for you.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And though organizers pledged an optimistic evening, many speakers spoke in ominous tones, painting an apocalyptic portrait of American life under a Joe Biden presidency.

  • Donald Trump Jr.:

    Joe Biden and the radical left are also now coming for our freedom of speech.

  • Patricia McCloskey:

    No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats' America.

  • Kimberly Guilfoyle:

    They want to steal, your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think and believe, so that they can control how you live.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    As is tradition, the program featured more personal testimonials, like this from Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio:

  • Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio:

    What I also appreciate about the president is something most Americans never get to see, how much he truly cares about people.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting.

  • Andrew Pollack:

    I got to see who President Trump really is. He's a good man and a great listener. And he cuts through the B.S.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And former NFL running back Herschel Walker, who defended Mr. Trump as his longtime friend.

  • Herschel Walker:

    Growing up in the Deep South, I have seen racism up close. I know what it is. And it isn't Donald Trump.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    A carefully curated slate of diverse speakers made direct appeals to voters of color, underrepresented in Republican ranks.

  • Woman:

    We aren't the stereotypical conservative.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Some directly attacking Democrats.

  • Woman:

    The Democrats still assume that black people will vote for them, no matter how much they let us down and take us for granted.

  • Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Ga.:

    The Democratic Party does not want black people to leave the mental plantation. We have been forced to be there for decades and generations.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The evening's end, featuring two party leaders from South Carolina, brought with it a softer tone.

    Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley invoked her Indian heritage, citing her success as evidence of American opportunity.

  • Nikki Haley:

    America is not a racist country. This is personal for me. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Senator Tim Scott drew on his grandfather's story to tell another of America's racial progress.

  • Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.:

    He suffered the indignity of being forced out of school as a third-grader to pick cotton, and he never learned to read or write. Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime. And that's why I believe the next American century can be better than the last.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Tonight's program, under the theme "Land of Opportunity," will feature more Republican officials, everyday testimonials, and more from President Trump himself, who will be watching first lady Melania Trump deliver her remarks from the White House Rose Garden tonight.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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