Vice President Mike Pence issued a stark warning about Joe Biden in his Republican convention speech tonight, saying the country ‘won’t be safe’ in Biden’s America.
It was one of many rhetorical bombs Pence lobbed as Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent at an outdoor speech at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, where crowd members seated in spaced folding chairs called out for ‘four more years!’
Pence hailed Trump in a prime time speech as someone who ‘does things his own way’ as he accepted the Republican nomination for president where he wove together stories of patriotism with scathing attacks on Biden and Democrats.
Pence alternately praised Trump for his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, and blasted the Democratic nominee for stressing a season of ‘darkness’ at his party’s convention last week.
‘Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to violence in America’s cities. The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,’ Pence warned, after calling for ‘law and order’ on the streets.
‘And under President Trump, we will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line and we’re not going to defund the police, not now not ever.’
Convention organizers constructed a colorful patriotic backdrop at the historic fort, amid unfolding events in Kenosha, Wisconsin that intruded, following a white police officer’s shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man.
Hours before Pence spoke, police arrested Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, and charged him with first degree intentional homicide in connection with a shooting that happened amid protests over the Blake incident, leaving two dead and one injured
Rittenhouse was a white Trump supporter who crossed from Illinois to Wisconsin with his long gun and seemed to co-ordinate with militias before the deadly shootings. He had been pictured in February at a Trump rally in Iowa.
But Pence made no reference to that, nor to the extraordinary boycott of the NBA playoffs in protest at the shooting of Blake.
It was started by the Milwaukee Bucks, then spread on Wednesday night with LeBron James tweeting ‘f*** this,’ reportedly calling for a full-scale boycott and Barack Obama congratulating the teams on speaking out. MLB, NLS and WNBA teams also called off games in solidarity.
Pence, who heads the president’s coronavirus task force amid the pandemic that has seen more than 5 million Americans cases of COVID-19, acknowledged those killed or harmed by the virus in his speech.
‘We’re finding our way forward again,’ Pence said. ‘In this country we mourn with those who mourn and we grieve with those who grieve,’ he continued, eschewing the president’s favored term: ‘China virus.’
Pence called it a ‘time of testing’ for the nation.
‘In the midst of this global pandemic, just as our nation had begun to recover, we’ve seen violence and chaos in the streets of our major cities,’ he said.
‘President Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest. But rioting and looting is not peaceful protest. Tearing down statues is not free speech,’ he said.
‘But rioting and looting is not peaceful protest,’ Pence said.
He claimed Biden would send the nation on a ‘path of socialism and decline.’
Republicans have raised the socialism threat for decades, while running up huge deficits while they are running the federal government.
In addition, most Republicans back programs like Medicare and Social Security which are examples of socialism.
Pence spoke to Trump’s strength and character, while acknowledging Trump’s unpredictability, after Democratic speakers called him unfit for office.
‘He does things in his own way, on his own terms. Not much gets passed him,’ Pence said. ‘And when he has an opinion, he’s liable to share it. He’s certainly kept things interesting. But more importantly President Donald Trump has kept his word to the American people.
He blasted Biden for the tone of the Democratic convention, which he characterized as bleak.
‘Joe Biden said that we were living though a season of darkness,’ Pence said.
‘But as President Trump, said where Joe Biden sees American darkness we see American greatness.’
WATCH: Mike Pence Addresses Republican Convention
The former two-term Indiana governor and six-term congressman also called Biden, who spent four decades in the Senate, a ‘career politician.’
In outdoor remarks in Baltimore – a city Trump called ‘a disgusting rat and rodent infested mess’ during a spat with the late Rep. Elijah Cummings last year – Pence spoke to a crowd that included Meal of Honor winners, Purple Heart recipients, and a Gold Star mother, as well as the family of a fallen police officer.
‘In these challenging times our country needs a president who believes in America,’ Pence said. ‘America needs four more years of president Donald Trump in the White House.’
Pence told the crowd as he accepted his nomination: ‘I humbly accept your nomination to run and serve as vice president of the United States.’
Backed by flags at the fort where Francis Scott Key penned the poem that became the National Anthem, Pence repeatedly talked up patriotism and national heritage, hours after shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
‘Let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha,’ Pence said. ‘Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.
During his law and order speech, Pence mentioned Department of Homeland Security agent Dave Patrick Underwood, who was killed amid protests in California.
‘He was shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, California,’ said Pence. ‘Dave’s heroism is emblematic of the heroes that serve in blue every day.’
What he did not mention was that Underwood was not killed by protesters. Authorities have charged a suspect affiliated with the boogaloo boys, the Washington Post reported, a fringe group whose adherents say they want to start a race war.
Speaking at a virtual convention that flashed repeated night-time images of monuments and statues in Washington D.C., Pence said those who topple them would be prosecuted to the ‘fullest extent.’
If you want a president who falls silent when our heritage is demeaned or insulted, he’s not your man,’ he said.
But he did stop short of mentioning Confederate monuments, which the president has repeatedly said have to be preserved.
He also blasted Biden for saying at the Democratic convention that no miracle is coming – part of the Democratic convention’s repeated attacks on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.
‘Last week Joe Biden said that no miracle is coming. Well what Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles,’ said Pence, who Trump picked in part due to his support among evangelical voters.
‘And I’m proud to report that we are on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year,’ he said.
He also painted a rosy economic picture, saying that the country had ‘gained back 9.3 million jobs,’ omitting the actual unemployment figure of more than 11 million, and the uptick in new jobless claims last week.
Pence also backed reopening schools saying his wife would be returning to the classroom.
In contrast Barron Trump’s school is not reopening.
‘Because of the strong foundation that President Trump poured in our first three years, we’ve already gained back 9.3 million jobs over the last three months,’ he said.
‘And we’re not just opening up America again—we’re re-opening America’s schools. I’m proud to report that my wife Karen, a lifelong school teacher, will be returning to her classroom next week.’
Pence presented the election as an all-or-nothing choice about the American future.
‘Last week, Joe Biden said democracy is on the ballot but the truth is, our economic recovery is on the ballot, law and order is on the ballot. But so are things far more fundamental and foundational to our country,’ Pence claimed.
‘It’s not so much whether America will be more conservative or more liberal, more Republican or more Democrat. The choice in this election is whether America remains America.
‘It’s whether we will leave to our children and our grandchildren a country grounded in our highest ideals of freedom, free markets, and the unalienable right to life and liberty — or whether we will leave to our children and grandchildren a country that is fundamentally transformed into something else.’
He described the Trump vision as ‘freedom and opportunity’ in an attempt to offer a positive vision after a dark version of ‘Biden’s America,’ a section of his speech which did not acknowledge that the violence he described happened during his and Trump’s administration.
When he concluded his remarks, Pence said: ‘And with President Donald Trump in the White House for four more years and with God’s help, we will make America great again again.’