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RNC 2020: Melania Trump makes plea for racial harmony

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Media captionMelania Trump: “Look at things from all perspectives”

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.

“Stop the violence and looting,” she also said as protests continued over a police shooting in Wisconsin.

Mrs Trump urged Americans to stop making assumptions based on race and reflected candidly on US history.

President Donald Trump currently trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden in opinion polls for November’s election.

Mr Trump will address the convention’s final night on Thursday.

What did Melania Trump say?

The normally limelight-shunning US first lady delivered Tuesday evening’s keynote address before a small audience, including her husband, in the Rose Garden of the White House.

“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.”

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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.”

Tuesday’s convention schedule began with a prayer for Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old black man shot multiple times in the back by police in Wisconsin on Sunday.

Mr Trump tweeted a call for the Midwestern state’s governor to bring in the National Guard as unrest continued following the shooting.

The president has often been accused by opponents of stoking racial tension, though black speakers at the opening night of the Republican convention emphatically denied he was racist.

In her speech, Mrs Trump also expressed compassion for Americans worried about the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 178,000 Americans.

“I know many people are anxious,” she said. “Some feel helpless. I want you to know you’re not alone.”

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Media caption‘Trump’s actions speak louder than stickers or slogans’

She praised her husband as a someone who “makes no secrets about how he feels about things”.

“Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president. Whether you like it or not you always know what he’s thinking.”

Her decision to speak from the seat of presidential power has angered Democrats, who said the venue was an inappropriate use of government resources for political purposes.

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Red meat for the base

If the first night of the Republican National Convention was about addressing the president’s perceived weaknesses among American voters – on the coronavirus pandemic, racial issues and overall empathy – Tuesday focused on motivating his base, from anti-abortion activists to Christian conservatives.

Meanwhile, the president flexed his executive powers from the White House in two extraordinary norm-stretching bits of political theatre – issuing a pardon and taking part in a naturalisation ceremony.

First Lady Melania Trump wrapped up the evening from the newly renovated Rose Garden. She was one of the few to directly express sympathy for those who have suffered from Covid-19. It was a stark contrast with White House economist Larry Kudlow, who talked about the pandemic in the past tense earlier in the night.

Unless something changes in the coming months, coronavirus will be at the top of voters’ minds when they cast their ballots.

And while red meat for the base is useful, public perception of the president’s handling of the virus – and its economic fallout – will factor heavily in deciding his political fate.

Who else spoke on Tuesday?

The second night – which was designed around the theme of “Land of Opportunity” – also heard from the president’s children, Eric and Tiffany Trump.

Eric railed against “radical Democrats” – a recurring message of the convention so far.

“They want to disrespect our National Anthem by taking a knee,” he said, “while our armed forces lay down their lives every day to protect our freedom.”


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Media caption‘I would crawl through broken glass to vote for Trump in this election’

He accused Mr Biden of planning to defund law enforcement, though the Democratic nominee has unveiled no such proposal.

Tiffany, Mr Trump’s daughter with his second wife Marla Maples, accused the media and tech companies of keeping Americans “mentally enslaved”.


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Media captionFormer Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake is backing Democrat Joe Biden

In a controversial appearance, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a pre-recorded speech from Jerusalem, praising the president’s “America First vision”.

Mr Trump has sought to portray himself as the most pro-Israeli president ever.

Normally, the nation’s top diplomat does not attend political conventions, with some making a deliberate point of being out of the country and unavailable during their political parties’ presidential nominating events, the Associated Press reports.

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Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem

“It is unprecedented and highly unethical for a sitting secretary of state to address a political convention while on official foreign travel,” said Halie Soifer, the head of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.

The state department stressed that no taxpayer money was used to produce Mr Pompeo’s video, which was made during an official tour of the Middle East.

Where was President Trump?

Though he is not scheduled to deliver his keynote address to the convention until its final night, Mr Trump played a major role in Tuesday’s schedule, just as he did on the opening day.

The conference featured emotional footage of the president earlier on Tuesday pardoning a Nevada bank robber, Jon Ponder, a black man who founded a charity that helps convicts reintegrate into society.

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Former bank robber Jon Ponder, left, was pardoned in a video shown to the convention

In another surprise moment of the night, Mr Trump appeared live from the White House to preside over a naturalisation ceremony for immigrants.

Critics said the segment was hypocritical, as Mr Trump has taken steps during his presidency to restrict legal immigration, as well as crack down on illegal immigration.

Mr Biden’s campaign accused the president of using the newly coined American citizens as “props”.

“Immigrants and Latinos are not props, and these empty gestures won’t make us forget Donald Trump’s failures,” the Democrat’s Latino media director, Jennifer Molina, told AP news agency.


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Media captionJoe Biden: Will it be third time lucky in 2020?

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