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The second night of the RNC saw speeches from high profile Republican’s such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who spoke about the dangers of the Democrats. But Mrs Trump capped off the evening with a more compassionate address, and praised her husband president Donald Trump’s commitment to tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Trump was in the audience as his wife took to the stage.
In her headline speech, Mrs Trump started by paying tribute to US frontline workers efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic, which no other speaker has addressed
She added: “I want to acknowledge that since March our lives have changed drastically — the invisible enemy, COVID-19 swept throughout our country.”
“Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic.”
Mrs Trump also refused to use her speech to “attack the other side”, and pleaded with American voters for “civility”.
Her speech drew criticism from Democrat pundits, with Tom Nichols, senior adviser for the anti-Trump Republican group Project Lincoln, savaging the first lady’s address.
He said: “This is a Seinfeld speech. It’s about nothing.
“It’s certainly not about Donald Trump, other than Melania saying that she’s ‘always admired’ Donald’s commitment to his country – shya, I’m sure – and then a segue into ‘which is why I launched Be Best.’”
Mehdi Hasa, Al Jazera presenter, added: “Melania just said Trump welcomes differences of opinion. I’m dead.”
But others defended Mrs Trump’s RNC appearance, with some praising the first lady for addressing the pandemic directly.
David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, hit back at Mr Nichols and said: “Stop scoffing. Melania’s speech is at least relatively decent and humane.”
Media outlets that have been strongly critical of the Trump administration have also praised the speech.
Rachel Maddow of MSNBC said: “That’s the first time in two days we have had even a straightforward expression of sympathy.”
Fierce Republican Trump critic Mike Murphy added that the First Lady’s address was “the only high-ground presidential speech you will ever hear at this convention”.
Mrs Trump has come under fire before for using a near-identical speech at the 2016 RNC to her predecessor, Michelle Obama.
But Meredith McIver, a Trump campaign speechwriter, defended the First Lady and said she simply read “passages from Mrs Obama’s speech as examples” of inspiration for her own address.
Ms McIver added: “I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.
“I did not check Mrs Obama’s speeches.
“This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs Obama.”
More controversy came from the RNC after Republicans were accused of breaking the Hatch Act at the convention.
The act bans government employees from participating in politics while they’re at work, with the exception of the president and Vice President.
Mr Pompeo, and other Republican officials, are believed to have breached the act, as well as Mr Trump using a naturalisation ceremony for US migrants in the RNC.
US government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said in a statement: “We’ve never seen this many repeated Hatch Act violations by senior officials of an administration in so short a time.”
The White House has denied any breach of the law throughout the convention.
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