WASHINGTON — Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise made a case for Donald Trump as a law and order president who will bolster law enforcement, in remarks Monday at the opening night of the Republican National Convention.
Scalise, the House minority whip and second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, was one of the prime-time speakers in a portion of the evening that made appeals for gun ownership and law enforcement and attempted to paint the Democratic Party as supporting radical left-wing protestors.
“This is an election between a party that wants to burn down the foundations of our country to the ground and a party that wants to rebuild and protect our great nation,” Scalise said.
“This is personal to me,” said Scalise, the victim of a 2017 shooting that targeted members of the Republican congressional baseball team.
Two officers assigned to Scalise’s security detail and local Alexandria, Virginia, police responded when the shooter fired on an early-morning baseball practice.
“President Trump stands with those brave men and women. Joe Biden has embraced the left’s insane mission to defund them,” Scalise said.
His remarks came amidst a series of speakers who touted Trump as a candidate who would support police and crack down on protests. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, made an impassioned speech that called for “law and order” and said “rioters must not be allowed to destroy our cities.” The evening also heard from the St. Louis couple who waved guns at protesters outside their home.
Republicans painted a picture of Democratic nominee Joe Biden as someone who supports defunding the police, but Biden himself has said he has no such goal.
In an interview Sunday with ABC’s “20/20,” Biden said he wants to increase funding for local police forces and bring more psychologists and social workers on board.
The Black Lives Matter movement has called to defund the police —-an issue that has gained some traction since the death of George Floyd in May. Those advocates want to shift some money from police departments and invest more in community organizations. But Biden, a moderate Democrat, has said he would not go that far.
Scalise—like most of the other speakers for the televised evening portion of the convention — made his remarks from a stage in the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The mostly empty auditorium provided a stately neoclassical background of stone and columns, decked out in American flags.
The Republican Party scaled back its convention proceedings in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, making much of the event virtual.
A relatively small group of about 300 delegates gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, to conduct convention business. On Monday they formally re-nominated Trump and Mike Pence as the party’s candidates for president and vice president.
Trump appeared midday in Charlotte for surprise remarks to the convention delegates. His nearly hour-long speech ping-ponged between praising what he saw as his administration’s accomplishments and lambasting Democrats. His wide-ranging comments included accusations of potential voter fraud, enthusiasm for space exploration and downplaying the effects of the coronavirus.