Donald Trump’s coronation as the Republican presidential nominee continues on Wednesday evening with a convention address by his faithful lieutenant, Vice-President Mike Pence, and several Republican rising stars, as unrest in Wisconsin following the police shooting of Jacob Blake threatens to overshadow the choreographed proceedings.
Pence is due to speak from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where the raising of the American flag during the war of 1812 inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would later become The Star-Spangled Banner.
His speech is expected to emphasize his belief that standing during the national anthem is a sign of respect, a rejection of those who choose to kneel in protest against racism and police brutality.
The vice-president will speak just hours after a curfew was instituted in Kenosha, where protests sparked by Blake’s shooting are entering their fourth night. A white 17-year-old was arrested after two protesters were shot dead on Tuesday night.
The NBA postponed three playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor on Wednesday evening, prompting teams and players across the league to join the boycott in a dramatic stand against racial injustice.
Trump and his political allies have used the occasion of this week’s Republican national convention to reinforce the image of Trump as a “law and order” president, who will protect Americans from rising crime and violent demonstrators that threaten to disrupt their way of life. Those appeals have often clashed with reality, as most Americans say they disagree with his handling of the Black Lives Matter protests and trust his Democratic presidential opponent, Joe Biden, on race relations.
Yet the Trump campaign is seizing on the consecutive nights of looting and violence that has unfolded alongside peaceful protests against police brutality in Kenosha, where Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot by police in a confrontation that was captured on camera.
How voters there respond to the unrest could determine whether the president is re-elected: Wisconsin is one of the most fiercely contested battleground states this election and in 2016 Trump was the first Republican to carry Kenosha county in decades.
During his remarks, Pence is expected to hammer the message of “law and order”, intended to appeal to suburban voters who have turned away from the party since Trump’s election.
Earlier on Wednesday, Biden said he had spoken to the Blake family and promised that “justice must and will be done” while also condemning “needless violence”.
‘Unite and heal’: Democratic nominee Joe Biden speaks about Jacob Blake shooting – video
Also appearing on Wednesday: Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, as well as Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s closest and longest-serving advisers who announced this week that she will depart from her role at the end of the month.
Absent from an updated speaking list provided by organizers was Jack Brewer, a former football player and a member of Black Voices for Trump, after NPR reported that he had been charged with insider trading by the US Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month.
And Trump’s campaign announced that the Goya CEO, Robert Unanue, would no longer speak at the convention, citing a logistical problem. Unanue’s praise of the president sparked backlash and a public boycott of the company by prominent Latino activists.
The action provoked a counter-protest by Trump supporters, including the president’s daughter Ivanka, who experts said violated federal ethics laws when she posted a photo of herself posing with a can of Goya beans.
The changes follow a series of scheduling missteps earlier this week that have raised questions about how seriously organizers are vetting speakers.
On Tuesday, organizers abruptly canceled an appearance by “Angel Mom” Mary Ann Mendoza, after she directed her Twitter followers to investigate an antisemitic conspiracy theory hours before her segment was due to air.
Still, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee turned anti-abortion activist, was permitted to speak after The 19th unearthed recent tweets in which she embraced household voting, a practice allowing only the typically male “head of the household” to cast a vote in elections, thus potentially barring women from voting.
Originally published: 2020-08-26 19:15:27