WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The people closest to President Donald Trump — his family — starred on the second night of the Republican National Convention as the GOP works to reintroduce the president to American voters in the midst of the campaign and pandemic.
Mrs. Trump delivered Tuesday evening’s keynote address before a small audience at the White House, while the president’s daughter Tiffany and son Eric were featured, too. As on the night before, Trump himself was expected to play “a significant role” in the prime-time programming, a campaign spokesman said.
With Election Day just 10 weeks off and early voting beginning much sooner, Trump is under increasing pressure to reshape the contours of the campaign. Trump’s political future may depend on his ability to convince voters that America is on the right track, even as the coronavirus death toll exceeds 177,000 and pandemic-related job losses reach into the millions.
Tuesday’s program was designed around the theme of “Land of Opportunity.”
Beyond the president’s family, the speakers included the mother of a police officer killed by an immigrant in the country illegally, a former Planned Parenthood official who became an anti-abortion activist, and a Kentucky high school student whose interaction last year with a Native American man became a flashpoint in the nation’s culture wars.
The student, Nicholas Sandmann, talked about the media, as Trump often does, in prepared remarks sure to please the president’s loyalists.
“In November, I believe this country must unite around a president who calls the media out and refuses to allow them to create a narrative instead of reporting the facts,” he said.
The program also offered a look inside the Republicans’ urgent need to expand his coalition.
There were barrier breakers like Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the first African American to hold statewide office in Kentucky, and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, first Latina to hold that office in her state.
And the convention lineup featured a Democrat for the second night: Robert Vlaisavljevich, the mayor of Eveleth, Minnesota, praised Trump’s support for his state’s mining industry in particular.
“President Trump is fighting for all of us. He delivered the best economy in our history and he will do it again,” Vlaisavljevich said in remarks.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the nation during an official overseas trip in Israel.
Pompeo’s taped appearance broke with decades of tradition of secretaries of state avoiding the appearance of involving themselves in domestic politics. That his video was filmed in Jerusalem, where he was on an official foreign trip, has raised additional questions of propriety.
There were more than a dozen speakers planned for the evening’s prime-time program, most of them appearing in prerecorded video or inside a largely empty Washington auditorium. But there is one intended star.
“Tonight is the first lady’s night,” said campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.
Out of the public view for much of the year, Mrs. Trump stepped into the spotlight to argue for a second term for her husband — while trying to avoid the missteps that marred her introduction to the nation four years ago.
At her 2016 convention speech, she included passages similar to what former first lady Michelle Obama had said in her first convention speech. A speechwriter for the Trump Organization later took the blame.
Mrs. Trump has not always been in lockstep with the president.
She rushed to the border to visit migrant children separated by their parents as part of a Trump administration policy, and she led a campaign against cyber bullying even as the president regularly uses social media to attack his critics.
Only the second foreign-born first lady in U.S. history, Mrs. Trump, 50, is a native of Slovenia, a former communist country in eastern Europe. She gave up studying architecture to pursue a career as a fashion model, arrived in New York in 1996 and met Donald Trump two years later.
She became his third wife in 2005 and gave birth to their now 14-year-old son, Barron, in 2006 — the year she became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
The first lady was to speak from the renovated Rose Garden, despite questions about using the White House for a political convention. She was expected to address an in-person group of around 50 people, including her husband.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.