US President Donald Trump vowed to continue the America First agenda after winning renomination at the Republican National Convention on Monday, setting the stage for the November showdown with Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump made a surprise appearance interrupting the roll call of votes after enough had been recorded for his renomination and defended his record in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and building the economy besides criticising Biden.
He said he would bring jobs back to the US and continue his tariff battle with other countries — both of which would impact India.
Trump, who has overwhelmed the Republican Party and rewritten the rules of political engagement and set the country on a new conservative and nationalistic path, takes on Biden with his liberal platform in one of the most divisive campaigns.
Trump won 2,550 votes of delegates elected in the primaries — the intra-party elections.
Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld ran against Trump in the primaries, but was crushed by the Trump juggernaut and received just one vote.
Trump accused the Democrats of “using Covid to steal the election” by introducing universal mail-in votes in some states that he said can be manipulated by the Democrats and asked his party members to watch out. Under this system, every voter in those states would get postal ballots even without requesting for them.
While the convention was in progress, a panel of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives was holding a hearing with Postmaster General Louis Dejoy, whom they accused of dismantling the postal system to disrupt the postal balloting.
Trump boasted about his economic record of low unemployment and high stock market prices that ground to a halt with the Covid-19 pandemic and said it is now getting back on track.
“We will never forget what China did to the US by spreading coronavirus and not alerting the world in time about it,” he said.
While the US was advancing in 2020, “China had the worst year in decades,” he said.
He warned that “China will own this country” if Biden wins because of his previous record and his son Hunter Biden’s ties with Chinese government-linked businesses netting him millions.
Trump is trailing Biden by 7.6 per cent in the aggregation of national polls by RealClearPolitics, but the post-convention bump in polls that has usually happened did not occur for the Democrats this time.
State representatives announcing the votes during the roll call listed what they said were Trump’s victories in confronting China, rebuilding the military, bringing back jobs to the US and confronting the trade inequalities and criticised Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris as radical socialists.
The vote for Trump’s renomination was held at a scaled-back convention in Charlotte because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlike at the Democratic Party convention, where the nomination of Biden was done with digital fanfare at a night-time session, the Republicans nominated Trump at the opening session in the morning.
Delegates at the convention declared their state’s votes in person but the nomination process was more routine and lacked the colour and the local backgrounds that the Democrats presented.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was earlier renominated by voice vote, also interrupted the roll call of votes when Trump’s votes were just short of a majority mark with a speech promising to “drain the swamp” of Washington.
He laid out what he said were his and Trump’s achievements and attacked Biden and Harris for representing the “radical left”.
He said that Biden was outsourcing leadership to Harris, who he said was from the far-left, even more liberal than Bernie Sanders, who is a self-styled socialist.
Pence, who is a former Governor of Indiana, was picked by Trump to be his running mate in the 2016 elections that they won against the odds.
The Republican convention follows a more traditional format with day-long sessions, holding the main events at night featuring star speakers. Trump, in a departure from tradition is scheduled to speak on all four days of the convention and not just on the last day, Thursday, to accept the nomination.
The Democratic Party’s convention that was held last week entirely virtually was a digital virtuoso performance that the Republicans will have to match to catch the eyes of the voters.
Unlike the Democrats, the Republican convention has a hybrid model with 336 delegates present physically at the convention site representing the 2,551 who were elected at the party primaries across the US, while others will be participating remotely.
The holding of the convention was marred by controversy after North Carolina’s Democrat Governor Roy Cooper turned down Trump’s demand to hold a full convention, with several thousands participating without full Covid-19 precautions.
Trump said the conventnion would be moved to Jacksonville, Florida, but had to abandon that plan and return to Charlotte and agree to the Covid-19 restrictions.
The convention began with a Catholic prayer that included an anti-abortion statement.
Abortion is a hot issue in US politics in which Democrats support abortion rights, while Republicans want to outlaw it.