By Arul Louis
New York, Aug 24 (IANS) The Republican National Convention renominated President Donald Trump for the office on Monday, setting the stage for the November showdown with Democratic Party candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has overwhelmed the Republican Party and rewritten the rules of political engagement and set the country on a new conservative and nationalistic path, takes on Biden with his liberal platform in one of the most divisive campaigns.
Trump’s vote tally of delegates crossed the 1,276-mark to seal the nomination, even as the roll call continued.
Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld ran against Trump in the primaries — the intra-party elections — to select the party candidate, but was crushed by the Trump juggernaut.
State representatives while announcing the votes listed what they said were Trump’s victories in confronting China, rebuilding the military, bringing back jobs to the US and confronting the trade inequalities, and criticised Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris as radical socialists.
The voting for Trump’s renomination was held at a scaled-back convention in Charlotte because of the Covid-19 pandemic without his presence. He is scheduled to speak later.
Unlike at the Democratic Party convention, where the nomination of Biden was done with digital fanfare at a night-time session, the Republicans nominated Trump at the opening session in the morning.
Some delegates declared their state’s votes in person and some virtually but the nomination process was more routine and lacked the colour and the local backgrounds that the Democrats presented.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was earlier renominated by voice vote, interrupted the roll call of votes when Trump’s votes were just short of a majority with a speech promising to “drain the swamp” of Washington.
He laid out what he said were his and Trump’s achievements and attacked Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris for representing the “radical left.”
He said that Biden was outsourcing leadership to Harris, who he said was from the far-left, even more liberal than Bernie Sanders, who is a self-styled socialist and ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination.
Pence, who is a former Governor of Indiana, was picked by Trump to be his running mate in the 2016 elections that they won against the odds.
After Pence’s election was announced, Convention Chair Ronna McDaniel blasted Democratic presidential nominee Biden and Harris with the usual party ammunition that their election would lead to higher taxes, open borders and a breakdown in law and order.
Tongue-in-cheek, she quoted Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the Democratic convention that everyone should “vote like our lives and our country depend on it”, and said that was why they had to turn out in support of Trump.
The Republican convention follows a more traditional format with day-long sessions, while holding the main events at night featuring star speakers. Trump, in a departure from tradition, is scheduled to speak on all the four nights of the convention.
The Democratic Party’s convention that was held last week entirely virtually was a digital virtuoso performance that the Republicans will have to match.
Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans are holding a hybrid convention with 336 delegates present physically at the convention site representing the 2,551 who were elected at the party primaries across the US, while others will be participating remotely.
The holding of the convention was marred by controversy after North Carolina’s Democrat Governor Roy Cooper turned down Trump’s demand to hold a full convention, with several thousands participating without full Covid-19 precautions.
Trump said the convention would be moved to Jacksonville, Florida, but had to abandon that plan and return to Charlotte and agree to the Covid-19 restrictions.
The convention began with a Catholic prayer that included an anti-abortion statement.
Abortion is a hot issue in US politics in which Democrats support abortion rights, while Republicans want to outlaw it.
Besides the economic, international and law order issues, speakers at the Republican convention also spoke of the party’s opposition to abortion.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)