Politics

Here are the highlights from Night 1 of the Republican National Convention

Key Points
  • The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday night.
  • The convention began earlier in the day in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Republican Party formally renominated President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a second term.
  • The evening was filled with zealous, fiery endorsements of Trump that at times painted a near-apocalyptic portrait of what America would become under a Biden presidency.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) speaks to the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention in a live address from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, U.S., August 24, 2020.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday, featuring speeches from Donald Trump Jr. and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and wasting no time in drawing a stark contrast with the Democrats' convention last week.

The convention began earlier in the day in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Republican Party formally renominated President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a second term.

Where the Democratic National Convention was held virtually from across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of the opening speeches on Night 1 of the RNC took place on the same stage in the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington.

The evening was filled with zealous, fiery endorsements of Trump that at times painted a near-apocalyptic portrait of what America would become under a Joe Biden presidency. One speaker, who said she had been diagnosed with a terminal bone cancer, said she and millions of others would have died if not for the president's health-care policies and his response to the Covid-19 crisis. 

She did not mention that more than 176,000 people in the U.S. have died of Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than any other country. 

Interspersed between the speakers were a series of glossy videos, which by turns heaped praise on Trump for his first-term accomplishments and attacked Biden.

The event also featured remarks from politicians including Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Jim Jordan of Ohio, along with Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and an array of other nonpublic figures who touted Trump's record.

Here are the top moments:

Sen. Tim Scott: The election isn't just about Trump and Biden

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Sen. Tim Scott says Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want a 'cultural revolution'

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the upper chamber and the lawmaker who took the lead on the GOP's police reform efforts after the death of George Floyd, delivered a forward-looking speech that focused more on policy than the president.

"While this election is between Donald Trump and Joe Biden ... it is not solely about Donald Trump and Joe Biden," Scott said. "It's about the promise of America. It's about you and me. Our challenges and heartbreaks, hopes and dreams."

Scott, who delivered the final speech of the night, slammed Biden over his record on race and a series of gaffes he made on the campaign trail.

The attacks offered a rebuttal to the Democratic nominee, who in his acceptance speech last week decried "the stain of racism" and highlighted Trump's 2017 reaction to White supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a "wake-up call for us as a country."

Kimberly Guilfoyle sounds off on 'elites' who want to 'destroy this country'

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Trump campaign fundraiser Kimberly Guilfoyle: This election is a battle for the soul of America

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Trump campaign fundraiser and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., delivered one of the most exclamatory speeches of the night, lionizing Trump as a "fearless" leader and attacking "cosmopolitan elites" who "want to destroy this country."

"This election is a battle for the soul of America," Guilfoyle declared, borrowing one of Biden's most frequently used campaign lines.

Guilfoyle's bombastic delivery — her speech was easily the loudest of the night — quickly began trending on social media.

Guilfoyle, the ex-wife of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, also blamed Democrats for turning the Golden State "into a land of discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets and blackouts in homes."

Couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters warn of 'radical Democrats' America'

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St. Louis couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters speaks at RNC

Mark and Patty McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who made the news after they were videoed pointing guns at protesters outside their home, defended their viral moment as they decried "radical Democrats' America."

"At this moment in history, if you stand up for yourself and for the values our country was founded on, the mob — spurred on by their allies in the media — will try to destroy you," Mark McCloskey said.

The McCloskeys have been charged with one count each of unlawful use of a weapon for their reaction to the protesters.

Nikki Haley contrasts Trump and Biden on foreign policy, touts her own record

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Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley: Biden and the socialist left would be a disaster for our economy

Haley in her remarks offered a firm endorsement of Trump — albeit one that was less effusive than others with whom she shared the stage.

Haley contrasted Trump and Biden on foreign policy, claiming that the Democratic nominee is "a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologize, abstain, and abandon our values."

"Donald Trump takes a different approach. He's tough on China, and he took on ISIS and won. And he tells the world what it needs to hear," Trump's former ambassador to the U.N. said.

She also spent a significant chunk of her speech on the state of race relations in the U.S.

"In much of the Democratic Party, it's now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie," Haley said before recounting the racial discrimination faced by her parents, who came to the U.S. as immigrants from India.

Haley's appearance followed months of rumors that the former South Carolina governor might be under consideration to replace Pence on Trump's 2020 ticket. Those rumors evaporated after the GOP renominated Pence to be Trump's veep earlier Monday.

Democratic state rep. backs Trump

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Georgia Democrat Vernon Jones on why he's voting for Donald Trump

The DNC featured a number of registered Republicans who announced their support for Biden. At the Republican  convention, Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones of Georgia made his case for Trump.

"The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave the mental Plantation they've had us on for decades," Jones, who is Black, said in his prepared remarks.

Jones, 59, accused Democrats of "pandering" to Black voters and said that when he announced his support for Trump, "all hell broke loose."

"I was threatened, called an embarrassment, and asked to resign by my party. Unfortunately, that's consistent with the Democratic Party and how they view independent thinking Black men and women," Jones said.

Polls show Biden holds a wide lead over Trump among Black voters.