Melania Trump makes plea for racial harmony at Republican convention

26 August 2020, 06:20

First Lady Melania Trump addressed the Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden at the White House
First Lady Melania Trump addressed the Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden at the White House. Picture: Getty
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

US First Lady Melania Trump has made a plea for racial unity in a live speech from the White House to the Republican party convention.

Just one day after her husband was nominated as the Republican candidate for President in the upcoming election Mrs Trump urged Americans to stop making assumptions based on race and reflected critically on US history.

"Stop the violence and looting," she also said as protests continue over a police shooting in Wisconsin.

"Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country," she said.

"It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history. I encourage you to focus on the future while still learning from the past."

She added: "I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals.

"I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice, and never make assumptions based on the colour of a person's skin."

She also offered her sympathies to those affected by coronavirus and sought to portray her husband as an uncompromising leader on the second night of the scaled-down Republican National Convention.

Speaking from the Rose Garden at the White House the First Lady reassured Americans that they are not alone during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I want you to know you're not alone," she said, adding: "My husband's administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective treatment or vaccine available to everyone."

Mr Trump was speaking to an audience that included the president, vice president and his wife, and her parents.

"Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic," she added in remarks that were softer in tone than many who spoke before her.

Showing a more forgiving side with millions of voters watching, the president pardoned a reformed felon and oversaw a naturalisation ceremony for several immigrants in the midst of the program.

Mr Trump showed a video of himself signing a pardon for Jon Ponder, a man from Nevada who has founded an organisation that helps prisoners reintegrate into society.

"We live in a nation of second chances," Mr Ponder said, standing alongside Trump.

Before signing the pardon, Mr Trump said: "Jon's life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption."

Others to speak on the night included Mr Trump's children Eric and Tiffany, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the convention from an official overseas trip in Israel.

Mr Pompeo said: "President Trump has put his America First vision into action. It may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it's worked."

The 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.

With Election Day just 10 weeks off and early voting beginning much sooner, Mr Trump is under increasing pressure to reshape the contours of the campaign.

But as he struggles to contain the pandemic and the related economic devastation, Republicans have yet to identify a consistent political message arguing for his re-election.