President Trump features family, top advisers on convention 2nd night – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON — The people closest to President Donald Trump — his family — were starring on the second night of the Republican National Convention as the GOP worked to reintroduce the president to American voters in the midst of the campaign and pandemic.

First lady Melania Trump was delivering Tuesday evening’s keynote address at the White House, while the president’s daughter Tiffany and son Eric were to be featured, too. Trump himself played a significant role throughout the night.

The convention’s planned humanizing focus on Trump’s family was overshadowed at the outset by a controversy that led to one conservative activist being pulled from the program minutes before it began.

The first-term president is laboring to improve his standing in a 2020 presidential race he is currently losing. Most polls report that Democratic rival Joe Biden has a significant advantage in terms of raw support; the former vice president also leads on character issues such as trustworthiness and likability.

On Tuesday night, Trump used the trappings of his office to elevate his message: pardoning a convicted felon, featuring his chief diplomat who was on assignment in Israel, and using the White House Rose Garden for his wife’s keynote address.

With Election Day just 10 weeks off and early voting beginning much sooner, Trump is under increasing pressure to reshape the contours of the campaign. But as he struggles to contain the pandemic and the related economic devastation, Republicans have yet to identify a consistent political message arguing for his reelection.

Trump’s political future may depend on his ability to convince voters that America is on the right track, even as the coronavirus death toll exceeds 177,000 and pandemic-related job losses reach into the millions.

In a show of compassion, before Tuesday’s program began Trump pardoned bank robber Jon Ponder, a Black man who has founded an organization that helps prisoners reintegrate into society.

“We live in a nation of second chances,” Ponder said, standing alongside Trump.

“John’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” Trump said before he signed Ponder’s pardon.

Convention organizers had promised an uplifting and hopeful message the night before as the convention began, but that was undermined by dark and ominous warnings from the president and his allies about the country’s future if he should lose in November.

Tuesday’s two-and-a-half-hour program featured an array of elected officials in addition to Trump’s chief diplomat and economic adviser, but in line with Democrats a week earlier the lineup included several everyday Americans.

There was a Maine lobsterman, a Wisconsin farmer, a Native American leader. Social conservatives were represented by an anti-abortion activist and Billy Graham’s granddaughter.

Trump’s party also featured a Kentucky high school student whose interaction last year with Native Americans became a flashpoint in the nation’s culture wars.

Mary Ann Mendoza, an Arizona woman whose son, a police officer, was killed in 2014 in a car accident involving an immigrant in the country illegally, was pulled from the program minutes before the event began. She had directed her Twitter followers to a series of anti-Semitic, conspiratorial messages.

While much of the night was expected to focus on delivering red meat to Trump’s largely white base, the program also offered a look inside the Republicans’ urgent need to expand his coalition.

There were barrier breakers like Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the first African American to hold statewide office in Kentucky, and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, first Latina to hold that office in her state.

And the convention lineup featured a Democrat for the second night: Robert Vlaisavljevich, the mayor of Eveleth, Minnesota, praised Trump’s support for his state’s mining industry in particular.