Election 2020

5 Things to Know About Night 4 of the Republican National Convention: Trump's Powerful Speech

Screenshot via C-SPAN

The Republican National Convention (RNC) was absolutely incredible, especially after the Democrats’ Gaslighting America Telethon. Each night had inspiring moments, but Thursday closed out the convention with Ann Dorn (widow of David Dorn), Alice Marie Johnson, and Stacia Brightmon, a formerly homeless mother who found her way to a career thanks to an apprenticeship program championed by President Donald Trump. Trump himself closed out the night with a mammoth speech on the gorgeous White House South Lawn.

The Republicans blew the Democrats out of the water. After the Democratic National Convention, Trump — not Democratic nominee Joe Biden — got a poll boost. The president’s numbers are only likely to rise even higher after this powerful convention. After all, since Democrats didn’t delve into their policies at their convention, Republicans got the chance to define Joe Biden as a candidate.

Here are 5 things to know about the final night.

1. Alice Marie Johnson

In 2018, Trump commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time, nonviolent drug offender, after Kim Kardashian-West advocated for Johnson at the White House. The woman who has a new chance at life thanks to the president gave a moving speech at the RNC.

“I was once told that the only way I would ever be reunited with my family would be as a corpse. But by the grace of God and the compassion of President Donald John Trump, I stand before you tonight…and I assure you, I’m not a ghost! I am alive, I am well, and most importantly, I am free,” she began.

Johnson never suggested that she was innocent, but she insisted, “none of us want to be defined forever based on our worst decision.”

“While in prison, I became a playwright, a mentor, a certified hospice volunteer, an ordained minister, and received the Special Olympics Event Coordinator of the Year award for my work with disabled women,” she said, “because the only thing worse than unjustly imprisoning my body is trying to imprison my mind.” Johnson said her “Christian faith … kept hope alive.”

“When President Trump heard about me — about the injustice of my story — he saw me as a person. He had compassion. And he acted,” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe it. I always remembered that God knew my name, even in my darkest hour. But I never thought a president would!”

“When I was released on June 6, 2018, I ran across that road and hugged my grandchildren for the first time. I’ll never forget that feeling!  And then I remembered the promise I had made to the men and women I left behind — that I would never stop fighting for them. And I haven’t. I’m using my voice to tell their stories. And I pray that my face reminds you of those forgotten faces,” Johnson said.

She praised the First Step Act as “REAL justice reform” that “brought joy, hope, and freedom to thousands of well-deserving people.”

“I hollered Hallelujah! My faith in justice and mercy was rewarded,” Johnson said.

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2. A bereaved widow speaks against the BLM riots

Ann Dorn, the widow of retired Police Chief David Dorn, delivered tearful remarks about the death of her husband in the George Floyd riots in St. Louis.

“The alarm that went off the morning of June 2nd was for real. It was a violent night in St. Louis. Four police officers were shot. Others were hit with rocks and fireworks. At least 55 businesses were damaged, looted, or set on fire,” the bereaved wife recalled.

“After I had gone to bed, Dave received a call from Lee’s alarm company. The front door of the pawnshop had been breached. This time, he didn’t wake me up to tell me. He probably knew I would have tried to stop him or insisted on going with him,” Ann Dorn said.

“As I slept, looters were ransacking the shop. They shot and killed Dave in cold blood and livestreamed the execution and his last moments on this earth. Dave’s grandson was watching the video on Facebook in real-time, not realizing he was watching his own grandfather dying on the sidewalk,” she recalled.

Ann Dorn introduced America to her late husband, making the audience feel the deep pain of his loss. David Dorn was “Father of five, brother to twelve, grandfather of ten, friend to thousands. He was the most kind, dedicated, loving life partner I could ever hope for. He had a big smile and a heart to match. He was blessed with the gift of gab, and that gift enabled him to touch souls and inspire people, especially young people. Oh, how he loved kids. And they loved him back.”

“Dave was all about service. He served 38 years in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and six years as chief of police at the Moline Acres Police Department. After 44 years, he retired from law enforcement, but he never retired from helping a friend in need. Since he befriended every person he met, he was a very busy man,” she recalled.

Yet David Dorn and at least 21 others lost their lives in the George Floyd riots, ostensibly inspired by a movement focused on the claim that black lives matter. Ann Dorn condemned the violent riots.

“Violence and destruction are not legitimate forms of protest. They do not safeguard black lives. They destroy them,” the widow declared. “President Trump understands this and has offered federal help to restore order in our communities. In a time when police departments are short on resources and manpower, we need that help. We should accept that help. We must heal before we can effect change, but we cannot heal amid devastation and chaos.”

“President Trump knows we need more Davids in our communities, not fewer,” Ann Dorn added. “We need to come together in peace and remember that every life is precious.”

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3. Ben Carson channels Abraham Lincoln

Retired neurosurgeon and director of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson began his remarks by expressing sympathy with the family of Jacob Blake, the man whose shooting at the hands of police in Kenosha, Wisc., inspired looting and violent riots. He channeled Abraham Lincoln in addressing the riots.

“Abraham Lincoln once said to an America divided, that ‘your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.’ These words of warning are relevant today,” Carson said.

“Right now, we need real. We need courage. We can’t cower in the corner and hope that no one calls us a name, believing that will keep us safe. That is not courage, and that will not lead us to a good and just place,” he warned. “We must remember all those who sacrificed everything in order to give us freedom, and we must be willing to do the same for those who come after us.”

“President Trump does not dabble in identity politics. He wants everyone to succeed and believes in the adage, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ Many on the other side love to incite division by claiming that President Trump is a racist. They could not be more wrong,” Carson argued.

He noted that Jesse Jackson gave Donald Trump an award for the economic opportunities he created for black people. “In Palm Beach, Florida, Donald Trump led the crusade to allow blacks and Jews into private clubs and resorts. One of the first things he did as president was bring the Office of Historically Black Colleges and Universities into the White House so that it could get proper attention and financial support. Before the pandemic, African American unemployment was at an all-time low.”

Carson also praised Trump for his efforts on criminal justice reform, his support for school choice, and his opposition to abortion.

“When my mother forced me to read books about doctors, entrepreneurs, inventors and scientists, I began to recognize that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you in life is you. My mother always told me ‘Ben, you can do anything, but I will never allow you to become a victim.’ It was then that I stopped listening to the people who were trying to convince me that I was a victim and that others were responsible for my victimhood,” he recalled.

“What is racist is the fact that African Americans have the highest abortion rate. President Trump is the most pro-life President in our country’s history. He will continue to fight for those who cannot yet speak.”

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4. Millennials for Trump

After House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the RNC started with a speech from Ja’Ron Smith, a young black man who serves as deputy assistant to the president, and a powerful video about millennial former socialists turning to support President Trump.

“Growing up, I’d never really known a Republican—I believed all the stereotypes. It took meeting Republicans who shared my values to show me I was wrong,” Smith recalled. “Donald Trump knows that in the work of revitalizing communities, America’s strength is America’s people. And I can tell you—he really cares. But, more importantly, he takes action.”

“Name an issue important to black communities—and it’s been a priority for him: prison reform, re-building broken families, bringing jobs back to America—jobs in Cleveland, jobs in Detroit, jobs in Milwaukee. Jobs for the future and jobs right here, right now,” Smith insisted. “President Trump knows that means investing in human capital—in real people—not more broken government programs. That’s why he has prioritized historically black colleges and universities with two billion dollars in permanent funding.”

“And, in the wake of the murder of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and LeGend Taliferro—a moment of national racial consciousness—I have seen his true conscience. I just wish every American could see the deep empathy he showed to families whose loved ones were killed in senseless violence,” Smith added. “And President Trump has made it clear that if you want to have a safe community, you must have a police department and that department must have the highest standards.”

Ja’Ron Smith, a Cleveland native, said he’d never forget the people of his native city. “They’re tough, smart, and tell it like it is. And they’re ready for real action. That’s President Trump. For a New Yorker, he’s got a lot of Cleveland heart. And I am proud to say that he’s my president.”

The RNC also played a powerful video featuring millennial former socialists turning to support Trump.

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5. And the main event: Donald Trump

Ivanka Trump introduced her father, the president of the United States, with eloquence and grace. While Joe Biden only spoke for 25 minutes at the Democratic National Convention, President Donald Trump spoke for over an hour. The president did not stray away from policy issues. He championed school choice and excoriated the Democrats for their radical abortion policies. Yet his most powerful rhetoric — and great mocking jabs — targeted Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

“Despite all of our greatness as a nation, everything we have achieved is now endangered. This is the most important election in the history of our country. At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas,” the president warned. “This election will decide whether we SAVE the American Dream, or whether we allow a socialist agenda to DEMOLISH our cherished destiny.”

“Joe Biden is not the savior of America’s soul – he is the destroyer of America’s jobs, and if given the chance, he will be the destroyer of American greatness,” Trump warned.

“Biden’s record is a shameful roll call of the most catastrophic betrayals and blunders in our lifetime. He has spent his entire career on the wrong side of history,” the president said. He noted Biden’s support for the NAFTA trade deal, his support for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his opposition to the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, and his cheering of the rise of China. “That’s why China supports Joe Biden and desperately wants him to win, I can tell you that.”

Trump championed his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and slammed Biden for opposing the travel ban on China. “If we had listened to Joe, hundreds of thousands more Americans would have died,” he warned.

“Instead of following the science, Joe Biden wants to inflict a painful shutdown on the entire country. His shutdown would inflict unthinkable and lasting harm on our nation’s children, families, and citizens of all backgrounds,” Trump said. “The cost of the Biden shutdown would be measured in increased drug overdoses, depression, alcohol addiction, suicides, heart attacks, economic devastation, and more. Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather it’s a surrender to the virus.”

The president noted that few Democrats spoke about their agenda at the DNC. “That’s not because they don’t have one. It’s because their agenda is the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee. Joe Biden may claim he is an ‘ally of the Light,’ but when it comes to his agenda, Biden wants to keep you completely in the dark,” Trump quipped.

5 Things to Know About Night 4 of the Republican National Convention: Trump’s Powerful Speech

The president slammed Biden for pledging to “abolish the production of American oil, coal, shale, and natural gas – laying waste to the economies of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. Millions of jobs will be lost, and energy prices will soar. These same policies led to crippling power outages in California just last week.”

Then he got in a great dig at the Democrat. “How can Joe Biden claim to be an ‘ally of the light’ when his own party can’t even keep the lights on?”

“Biden is a Trojan horse for socialism. If Joe Biden doesn’t have the strength to stand up to wild-eyed Marxists like Bernie Sanders and his fellow radicals, then how is he ever going to stand up for you?” Trump asked.

The president also warned that the defund-the-police policies Democrats advocate ” will make every city look like Democrat-run Portland, Oregon. No one will be safe in Biden’s America.”

“When there is police misconduct, the justice system must hold wrongdoers fully and completely accountable, and it will. But what we can never have in America – and must never allow – is mob rule,” Trump declared. “In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, and New York.”

He noted that “Joe Biden and his supporters remained completely silent about the rioters and criminals spreading mayhem in Democrat-run cities. In the face of left-wing anarchy and mayhem in Minneapolis, Chicago, and other cities, Joe Biden’s campaign did not condemn it – they donated to it. At least 13 members of Joe Biden’s campaign staff donated to a fund to bail out vandals, arsonists, looters, and rioters from jail.”

The president also mentioned his policies supporting the black community.

“To bring prosperity to our forgotten inner cities, we worked hard to pass historic criminal justice reform, prison reform, opportunity zones, the long-term funding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and, before the China Virus came in, produced the best unemployment numbers for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans ever recorded,” he said.

Then Trump made a truly astonishing hyperbolic claim: “I have done more for the African-American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president.” He followed that with a much more straightforward claim: “I have done more in three years for the black community than Joe Biden has done in 47 years—and when I’m reelected, the best is yet to come!”

As part of that greatness, Trump promised, “We will launch a new age of American ambition in space. America will land the first woman on the moon – and the United States will be the first nation to plant its flag on Mars.”

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Final tidbits:

What a convention! I know I’m biased, but there was so much more passion, strength, and depth of emotion at the RNC than there was at the DNC. The Democrats had their moments, but they didn’t have a naturalization ceremony. They didn’t have a panel of former prisoners. They didn’t have the widow of David Dorn. They didn’t have Alice Marie Johnson.

Night 4 had other powerful speeches, as well. Former Democrat Jeff Van Drew spoke about how the Democrats pushed him out of their party. Dan Scavino spoke about the kindness and decency of President Trump. Stacia Brightmon spoke about finding hope through an apprenticeship program.

Democrats have Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), half-Asian and half-black. The RNC had Attorney General Sean Reyes (R-Utah), a “proud descendant of warriors” from Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, and Spain.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) issued a powerful condemnation of Biden’s policies on China.

The RNC was stunning, but the magnificent Rose Garden and the powerful “Trump 2020” fireworks at the end truly gave it a wonderful send-off. “You’re a Grand Old Flag” played with the fireworks, celebrating the patriotism of the Republican Party. Fantastic!

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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