Politics

Trump takes campaign to New Hampshire after convention speech at White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fresh from accepting the Republican nomination with a sweeping attack on Democratic rival Joe Biden, President Donald Trump travels to New Hampshire on Friday to bring his re-election argument to a state he hopes to flip to his column in November.

His Republican Party’s slimmed-down, four-day convention ended on Thursday night with a fireworks display over Washington’s National Mall and a searing speech by Trump criticizing Biden and outlining an agenda for four more years in office.

“At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas,” Trump told a crowd on the White House South Lawn.

“This election will decide whether we save the American dream, or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny,” Trump said.

Biden fired back on Twitter: “When Donald Trump says tonight you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America, look around and ask yourself: How safe do you feel in Donald Trump’s America?”

The president has emphasized “law and order” as a key campaign theme amid protests over racial injustice around the country, while also suggesting falsely that his policies have been more helpful to Black Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln.

On Friday he issued a full pardon to Alice Johnson, a Black woman who received a life sentence for a first-time drug offense and whose cause was taken up by the celebrity Kim Kardashian West. Johnson addressed the Republican convention on Thursday night about Trump’s earlier commutation of her sentence.

Trump will revisit those themes in New Hampshire, which he lost narrowly to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. He is trailing Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president, in opinion polls in the state and nationwide ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

The president, who has criticized Biden for campaigning mostly from his Delaware home because of the coronavirus pandemic, intends to travel extensively in the coming months to boost momentum for his re-election bid.

Trump, to his chagrin, has not been holding his signature large rallies for most of the virus outbreak. A June rally at an indoor arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma, fizzled thanks to a crowd that was well below capacity. The area experienced an uptick in coronavirus cases weeks after the event.

Trump had vowed to return to New Hampshire after he canceled a rally planned there in July over concerns about a tropical storm off the East Coast.

His speech on Friday, scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT), will be held in a hangar in Manchester, and participants will be required to wear masks, the campaign said.

BIDEN CAMPAIGN TRAVEL

Biden expects his in-person campaign travel to pick up after Labor Day on Sept. 7, telling lawyers at an online fundraising event on Thursday he was considering traveling to battleground states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Arizona.

“We’re going to get out and meet people where it matters, not at irresponsible rallies or staged for TV to boost egos, but real people’s communities, in real local businesses, in their lives,” Biden said. “I’m going to keep everyone safe.”

Trump and his allies spent their convention arguing that he would restore “law and order” to the country following protests over racial injustice and would revive an economy that has been ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak.

Some 21.6 million Americans watched Trump’s keynote speech at the convention on Thursday night, according to preliminary ratings data on Friday that suggested a lower TV audience for Trump than Biden. Trump, a former reality television star, cares deeply about ratings.

Democrats this week continued blasting the president for his handling of the pandemic.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris said during a speech on Thursday in Washington that the reality of the struggles America was facing during the pandemic were “completely absent” from the Republican convention. She vowed that a Biden-Harris administration would establish a national plan to tackle the health and economic crises, something Democrats say Trump has failed to do.

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