Local Republicans react to national convention, OK with Trump’s speech from White House

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 30, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — Local Republicans say the Republican National Convention and its speakers were effective at highlighting President Donald Trump’s accomplishments.

While Democrats opted for an all-virtual convention, the Republican National Convention, held partially in Charlotte, only allowed a little more than 300 of the more than 2,500 delegates total to attend the first three nights of the convention. The convention included a mix of pre-recorded and live speeches. In an unprecedented move, Trump gave his speech on the south lawn of the White House to a crowd of people.

Republicans and Trump supporters praised the president at the convention for his economic accomplishments, which they cited as the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act, renegotiated trade deals with Canada, South Korea and Mexico as well as record-low unemployment before the pandemic.

Rowan County Republican Chair Don Vick said, while it was unfortunate more people and more events couldn’t be held in Charlotte to showcase the state of North Carolina, it was a smart move.

“I think we had a better seat in our living room,” he said.

Vick said he was most inspired by the Trump family’s speeches because they showed love for the president and made it clear they felt the administration is making decisions that move the nation in the right direction.

“We’re not done yet,” Vick said, adding that four more years is needed now more than ever before.

Speakers who don’t hold political office and spoke at the convention included Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who garnered national attention in June for open carrying guns in front of their St. Louis house with Black Lives Matter protesters nearby; Nick Sandmann, a former student of Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky who later sued media organizations for their coverage of his face-to-face encounter with a Native American at the Lincoln Memorial; humanitarian aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was killed by the Islamic State group in 2015; and Alice Johnson, who was serving life in prison for drug charges until Trump commuted her sentence.

Vick added that he enjoyed watching the naturalization ceremony Tuesday night in which five immigrants received U.S. citizenship. Vick said he knows it was a photo opp, but it still shows the president cares about immigration issues.

Ada Fisher, however, said both GOP and Democratic conventions were boring. Fisher said she felt both conventions presented a lot of the “same old,” and that the nation needs to be talking about how things can be done differently. Fisher has served as a N.C. Republican national committeewoman for 12 years, but this year’s convention was her last. She’s ready to step aside and bring new people in.

“I’ve been a Republican for 52 years, and I’ve heard the same song and dance,” she said.

Fisher said she was impressed by the speech from Sen. Tim Scott, the first Black Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from South Carolina. Scott praised the president, but also spoke about his own upbringing — “from cotton to Congress,” as he termed it. Additionally, he spoke to previous comments Biden made suggesting Black voters are a monolith.

Rep. Julia Howard, R-77, said she appreciated the diverse lineup of speakers and that the speeches from First Lady Melania Trump and Laura Trump were “phenomenal.”

Unlike the Democratic Party, Republicans opted to base the party platform on what was released in 2016 rather than establishing a new one. Some of the platform calls for stricter immigration policies, an “America First” trade policy and coal as a clean energy source.

Vick said a platform change wasn’t needed because COVID-19 prevented the majority of delegates from gathering together to establish one. Fisher also said a new platform wasn’t needed because the president has not yet accomplished the all the goals set in 2016.

Fisher said she wanted to support Sen. Kamala Harris for being the first Black woman on a presidential ticket during the Democratic National Convention, but her record as attorney general in California “has done more damage to Black people.”

And Fisher said she liked some things Democrats touted, the party wasn’t effective at mobilizing its voter base. She expressed concern for the White House being used as the backdrop for Trump’s nomination acceptance speech Thursday night, but added “he’s the president.”

Critics have suggested Trump’s speech delivered from the White House is in violation of the 1939 Hatch Act for those who helped organize it. Notably, the act limits certain political activities by federal employees. No modern president, meanwhile, has delivered a nomination acceptance speech from the White House.

Vick said the president’s decision to deliver his speech from the White House showed he wanted to be with “the people,” adding that “he did it from his house.”

Howard also said Trump had the right to deliver the speech from the White House.

Convention speakers touted Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which has now infected more than 5 million Americans and killed more than 179,000 people. Fisher and Howard both said Trump, along with many leaders across the nation, are doing the best they can.

Fisher predicts Trump will win re-election, but is interested to see which party will better mobilize their voter base.

“If he doesn’t win, Lord help us,” she said.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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