NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt shares his analysis and opinions on the week in city politics.
The Trumpiest moment of yesterday’s Republican National Convention occurred long before Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivered his invocation last night.
Interrupting the roll call vote at the brick-and-mortar portion of the convention in Charlotte that spilled over into the afternoon, the president addressed the 336 delegates in a speech that felt like a 52-minute not-ready-for-primetime riff that was short on facts and long on grievances.
Focusing hard on the call for more voting by mail because of the coronavirus, Trump repeatedly cast doubt on the integrity of the voting process, with no proof.
“The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,’’ Trump said of the Democrats.
“They’re using COVID to steal the election,” he claimed. “They’re using COVID to defraud the American people, all of our people, of a fair and free election.”
At both the day and evening convention sessions, COVID was politicized by saying the Democrats had politicized it. Talk of a continued shutdown got an eyeroll despite the fact that we could have 200,000 coronavirus victims in the United States by Election Day. A view of the delegates during the break on the C-Span video feed showed that a lot of them weren’t keeping their social distance.
It was a far different kind of message from former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who’s a sort-of frenemy of the president’s after quitting her ambassadorship to the U.N. While Haley carried Trump’s water last night, she also talked about racism in a way that was rarely heard during the rest of the night.
“The American people know we can do better,’’ she said in positively un-Trumpian rhetoric. “And of course, we know that every single black life is valuable.”
Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott aren’t likely to lead a stampede of Black voters to Donald Trump, but they may be making undecided white voters feel that’s it OK to support the president. And those are the votes that are largely up for grabs at this point when it seems that virtually everyone else already has their minds made up.
The problem for Donald Trump is that he’d rather be the focus of everyone’s attention instead of Haley or Scott, even though seeing them every night would likely be far more beneficial to the president than playing it all Trump all the time.
At this convention, you don’t have to worry about paying attention to the man behind the curtain – because there is no curtain.