President Donald Trump will make a crucial pitch for a second term in the White House on Thursday with a keynote address at the Republican National Convention highlighting his record in office and charting a path for the next four years.
The former New York businessman’s speech on the White House South Lawn, a controversial location for a partisan event, will cap a four-day convention that has portrayed him as a leader who can restore order after months of protests over racial injustice and revive an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump is seeking to turn around a re-election campaign that has been overshadowed by the pandemic, which has killed more than 179,000 people in the United States and put millions of Americans out of work.
With just over two months before the Nov. 3 vote, Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden is leading in opinion polls partly because of public discontent with Trump’s handling of the health crisis.
While Trump’s approval rating among Republicans remains high, dissent against him from within his own party is mounting. In three open letters being published on Thursday and Friday, Biden won endorsements from more than 160 people who worked for former President George W. Bush or for past Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney, the New York Times and Politico reported.
Earlier this week, 27 former Republican lawmakers endorsed Biden while the Lincoln Project, one of the most prominent Republican-backed groups opposing Trump, said a former head of the Republican Party had joined it as a senior adviser.
Trump, a former reality television host, and his advisers have set up his speech with a producer’s eye. He will address the nation with the White House as his backdrop, irking critics who say holding a political event there is a potential violation of the law.
The Hatch Act, which limits the use of federal property for political purposes, excludes the president and vice president but not other federal employees, including White House staff.
Trump, who faced criticism earlier this year for not articulating a clear vision for a second term, will be sharing his policy plans on Thursday night and in upcoming speeches on the campaign trail, a campaign official said.
Fireworks are expected over Washington’s nearby monuments at the conclusion of Trump’s speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination. He will address a large crowd on the lawn despite warnings against such gatherings because of the pandemic, which has forced both political parties to scale back their conventions and turn events mostly virtual.
Trump’s campaign says precautions against the coronavirus will be taken. The president often boasts about his crowd sizes; his campaign has largely done away with his signature rallies due to the virus.