Republican convention: Donald Trump’s family and allies attack Joe Biden

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley says ‘radical left would be a disaster’ for US economy

President Donald Trump's family members and allies launched a fervent defence of the president on the first night of the Republication National Convention, as they warned that a vote for Joe Biden would be a vote for socialism.

"Joe Biden and the radical left would be a disaster for our economy," declared former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, as she also lambasted Mr Biden and President Barack Obama's foreign policy credentials.

Mr Biden, she said, is "good for Iran and Isis, great for communist China, and he's a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologise, abstain, and abandon our values."

Describing her time as ambassador to the UN, she said that the United Nations is a "place where dictators, murderers, and thieves denounce America, and then put their hands out and demand that we pay their bills."

Ms Haley – who is widely expected to mount a presidential run in 2024 – said that Mr Biden was under the control of Democrats like House speaker Nancy Pelosi and senator Bernie Sanders, who "want to tell Americans how to live, and what to think. They want a government takeover of healthcare. They want to ban fracking and kill millions of jobs. They want massive tax hikes on working families."

Among the others who spoke on the opening night of the four-day convention was Donald Trump jnr, the president's eldest son.

Describing the arrival of coronavirus to the United States – "courtesy of the Chinese communist party" – he said his father had "quickly took action and shut down travel from China. Joe Biden and his Democrat allies called my father a racist and xenophobe for doing it. They put political correctness ahead of the safety and security of the American people."

Mr Trump jnr’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality, also addressed the convention.

Senator Tim Scott – the only black Republican in the Senate – delivered the closing speech of the first night, criticising Mr Biden's support for the 1994 crime Bill that is perceived to have disproportionately criminalised young black men.

Like the Democratic National Convention, the Republican convention is mostly a virtual affair, though the official "roll call" where delegates from across the country nominate their party candidate took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, earlier on Monday.

The bulk of Monday night’s events comprised of live speeches from contributors in the Mellon Centre in Washington DC as well as pre-recorded videos, including one that extolled Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

During the evening Mr Trump hosted small groups of Americans in the White House, including former hostages who were released during the president's first term.

Other contributors included Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland School shooting in Florida. He described in emotional terms how his child had been shot by a classmate that day, but he praised Mr Trump's response to the shooting.

“Gun control didn’t fail my daughter, people did,” he said.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the Missouri couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home in June, also delivered a pre-recorded message from St Louis. "What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you watching from quiet neighbourhoods across the country," said Ms McCloskey. "Your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats' America."

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, opened Monday night's proceedings with a prayer. Speaking against the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty in New York, Archbishop Dolan prayed for immigrants and refugees as well as "the innocent life of the baby in the womb".

The high-profile cleric previously spoke at the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2012, but has been a vocal supporter of Mr Trump, delivering a prayer at his inauguration ceremony in January 2017.

His appearance at the convention comes despite the fact that Mr Trump's rival Joe Biden will be the first Catholic US president since John F Kennedy if elected in November.

Fr Jim Martin, a Jesuit priest supportive of the LGBTQ community, spoke at last week's Democratic convention.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent

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