Republicans used the third night of their convention on Wednesday to amplify warnings of violence and lawlessness under Democratic leadership, trying to capitalize on the worsening unrest in Wisconsin to reclaim moderate voters who might be reluctant to hand President Trump a second term.
The party also made appeals to social conservatives with attacks on abortion and accusations that the Democrats and their nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., were “Catholics in name only.” And they intensified their effort to lift Mr. Trump’s standing among women with testimonials vouching for him as empathetic and as a champion of women in the workplace — from women who work for him, a number of female lawmakers and his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.
Speaking hours after Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin called in the National Guard to restore order to Kenosha, Wis., where a police officer shot a Black man this week, numerous Republicans led by Vice President Mike Pence assailed Mr. Biden for what they claimed was his tolerance of the vandalism that had grown out of racial justice protests, asserting that the country would not be safe with him as president.
“Last week, Joe Biden didn’t say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country,” said Mr. Pence, standing before an array of American flags at Fort McHenry in Baltimore and vowing: “We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”
Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, a strong supporter of the president, said that places like Seattle, Portland, Ore., and other cities run by Democrats were being “overrun by violent mobs.” She likened the violence to the lead-up of the Civil War and asserted that people “are left to fend for themselves.”
Ms. Noem invoked a young Abraham Lincoln, claiming he had been “alarmed by the disregard for the rule of law throughout the country.”
“He was concerned for the people that had seen their property destroyed, their families attacked and their lives threatened or even taken away,” she said, adding “Sound familiar?”
The intense focus on the rioting amounted to an acknowledgment by Republicans that they must reframe the election to make urban unrest the central theme and shift attention away from the deaths and illnesses of millions of people from the coronavirus.
For four years, Vice President Mike Pence has stood as an unfailingly loyal deputy to President Trump — even and especially when he gets overruled.
In public and private, Mr. Pence lauds Mr. Trump. And on Wednesday night, he used his convention speech to paint the president as a great builder of the American economy and defender of American law enforcement.
The vice president said that Mr. Trump was upholding the very nature of the country, and if Joseph R. Biden Jr. was elected president, the United States would lose its essential character and become unrecognizable — at least to a Trump-friendly social conservative like Mr. Pence.
“Last week, Joe Biden said democracy is on the ballot, but the truth is, our economic recovery is on the ballot, law and order are on the ballot. But so are things far more fundamental and foundational to our country,” Mr. Pence said. “It’s not so much whether America will be more conservative or more liberal, more Republican or more Democrat. The choice in this election is whether America remains America.”
“So with gratitude for the confidence President Donald Trump has placed in me, the support of our Republican Party, and the grace of God, I humbly accept your nomination to run and serve as vice president of the United States,” Mr. Pence said.
Speaking to a crowd at Fort McHenry in Baltimore that did not appear to be socially distanced or wearing masks, Mr. Pence described a president who acts differently in private than he does in public — a picture sharply at odds with nearly all of the reporting that depicts Mr. Trump in private as even more prone to pique and outbursts than he is before television cameras.
“I’ve seen him when the cameras are off,” Mr. Pence said. “Americans see President Trump in lots of different ways, but there’s no doubt how President Trump sees America. He sees America for what it is, a nation that has done more good in this world than any other, a nation that deserves far more gratitude than grievance.”
Mr. Pence made the night’s first significant reference to Hurricane Laura, a major storm bearing down on Texas and Louisiana, a notion that would have not raised eyebrows during any other political convention but seemed off-key during a week devoted to singing the praises of Mr. Trump.
“This is a serious storm, and we urge all of those in the affected areas to heed state and local authorities,” Mr. Pence said. “Stay safe, and know that we will be with you every step of the way to support, rescue, this pond, and recover in the days and weeks ahead.”
In a seeming reference to Mr. Trump’s defense of Confederate monuments and the Confederate flag, Mr. Pence, who is from Indiana, added: “If you want a president who falls silent when our heritage is demeaned or insulted, then he’s not your man.”
Mr. Pence was the only Republican convention speaker to mention Kenosha, Wis., where the Sunday police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, has inflamed racial tensions. He condemned people there who caused property damage — though he made no mention of the shooting that prompted the unrest.
“President Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peacefully protest,” said Mr. Pence, who in 2017 flew to Indianapolis for an N.F.L. game and then walked out after several players knelt during the national anthem. “But rioting and looting is not peaceful protest. Tearing down statues is not free speech, and those who do so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mr. Pence, like many speakers during the Republican convention, also sought to rewrite the recent history of how Mr. Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 180,000 Americans and counting.
“Before the first case of the coronavirus spread within the United States, the president took unprecedented action and suspended all travel from China, the second largest economy in the world,” Mr. Pence said.
Yet by April 40,000 people had traveled to the United States from China since Mr. Trump imposed his travel ban on Jan. 31, and more than 430,000 since the coronavirus was first disclosed in China a month earlier.
Mr. Pence also said Mr. Trump had “marshaled the full resources of our federal government from the outset,” adding, “He directed us to forge a seamless partnership with governors across America in both political parties.”
This would come as a surprise to Democratic governors in Illinois, New York and Washington State, among others, who found themselves on the receiving end of Mr. Trump’s attacks for publicly criticizing the federal government’s inability to produce personal protective equipment or sufficient testing to determine how far the virus had spread in their states.
The undiplomatic diplomat Richard A. Grenell, who briefly held a top intelligence post in the Trump administration, revived the baseless theory that President Barack Obama personally ordered federal law enforcement officials to spy on Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign.
“The Obama-Biden administration secretly launched a surveillance operation on the Trump campaign, and silenced the many brave intelligence officials who spoke up against it,” said Mr. Grenell, who served as United States ambassador to Germany from 2018 to 2020, and alienated many German officials by weighing in on the country’s internal politics.
Mr. Grenell launched a far-ranging attack on Democratic foreign policy initiatives, slamming the Iran nuclear deal and globalist goals he said Mr. Biden would pursue.
“Washington stopped being the capital of the United States, and started being the capital of the world,” he said of the Obama administration’s approach.
In his remarks at the Republican convention on Wednesday, Mr. Grenell, one of the few gay people to hold a high administration post under Mr. Trump, claimed to have “watched President Trump charm the chancellor of Germany, while insisting that Germany pay its NATO obligations.”
No one appears to have told that to the chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has privately expressed doubts about Mr. Trump’s leadership and publicly criticized his response to the coronavirus, albeit indirectly. “As we are experiencing firsthand, you cannot fight the pandemic with lies and disinformation,” Ms. Merkel said in June. “The limits of populism and denial of basic truths are being laid bare.”
This year, Mr. Grenell served briefly as acting director of national intelligence. In that capacity, he was the first openly gay cabinet-level official in United States history.
He claimed on Wednesday that this post gave him access to information about Democratic investigations into possible “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia four years ago that “made me sick to my stomach.”
Mr. Grenell, known for dunking on reporters and critics on Twitter, had no chance of being permanently confirmed for that position after Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said he was unqualified.
Since then, he has served as the Republican National Committee’s liaison on L.G.B.T. outreach, a tall order at a time when Mr. Trump has made a point of rolling back protections for transgender people enacted during the Obama administration.
Our team of reporters who cover the Pentagon, Congress, health care and more fact-checked tonight’s speeches. See the claims and how they stack up against the truth.
Clarence Henderson, who helped desegregate the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., in 1960, joined a chorus of Black Trump supporters making the case that Mr. Trump is not racist — even though as many as eight in 10 Black people think he is.
Mr. Henderson did not directly refer to the chaotic protests in Portland, Ore., and Kenosha, Wis. But he contrasted his actions 60 years ago — joining his friends at the counter on the second day of the protests — with the current demonstrations.
“Our actions inspired similar protests throughout the South against racial injustice. And in the end, segregation was abolished and our country moved a step closer to true equality for all,” he said. “That’s what actual peaceful protest can accomplish.”
The Greensboro demonstrations, while not the first sit-ins, were a watershed moment in the civil rights movement — especially after the media broadcast images of an unruly white mob dumping food and drinks on the polite, neatly dressed and nonviolent protesters.
Lara Trump, President Trump’s daughter-in-law and a senior adviser to his re-election campaign, offered a glowing portrait of the family she had married into on Wednesday night, painting the Trumps as “warm” and “caring.”
Speaking at the Republican National Convention, Ms. Trump, who is married to Eric Trump, conceded that she had “certainly never thought that I’d end up with the last name Trump.” But as soon as she met her husband and joined his family, she said, “Any preconceived notion I had of this family disappeared immediately.”
“I wasn’t born a Trump. I’m from the South,” she said. “I was raised a Carolina girl. I went to public schools and worked my way through a state university.”
“What I learned about our president is different than what you might have heard,” she added. “I learned that he’s is a good man. That he loves his family. That he didn’t need this job.”
With her remarks, Lara Trump joined the growing list of Trump family members and close associates who have been tapped to praise the president based on their relationship with him. They have sought to soften the president’s image, suggesting that he treats the people he cares about exceedingly well.
Ms. Trump also tried to use her firsthand experience to try to improve her father-in-law’s standing with women, remarking that she had seen women thrive in the Trump Organization, which granted them big responsibilities.
“I know the promise of America because I’ve lived it, not just as a member of the Trump family, but as a woman who knows what it’s like to work in blue-collar jobs, to serve customers for tips and to aspire to rise,” she said.
“No one on earth works harder for the American people,” she added later, speaking about the president. “He’s willing to fight for his beliefs, and for the people — and the country — that he loves.”
Burgess Owens, the Republican nominee in a Utah congressional district that Democrats flipped in 2018, took the stage at the Republican convention on Wednesday and recalled his great-great-grandfather, Silas Burgess, who escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad and ultimately became a landowner.
He also recalled his own experience: After playing in the N.F.L., he started a business that failed, and ended up working as a chimney sweep before achieving “a rewarding career in the corporate world.”
“Career politicians, elitists and even a former bartender want us to believe that’s impossible,” Mr. Owens said, referring to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by her former job. “They want us to believe that what I did, what my great-great-grandfather did, is impossible for ordinary Americans. As patriots, we know better.”
Mr. Owens, who is also a Fox News contributor and a former N.F.L. player, is running against Representative Ben McAdams in Utah’s Fourth Congressional District. Mr. McAdams narrowly upset a Republican incumbent, Mia Love, in 2018.
On Tuesday, Mr. Owens was accused of plagiarizing parts of his book “Why I Stand: From Freedom to the Killing Fields of Socialism,” which he denied. Also this week, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that a former Utah legislator was urging the Republican National Committee to revoke his speaking slot because he appeared earlier this year on a YouTube program associated with the false QAnon conspiracy theory.
Mr. Owens has said that he didn’t know about the link and that he does not support QAnon.
Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, the only endangered Senate Republican to speak at this week’s Republican National Convention, on Wednesday night highlighted President Trump’s help for farmers and claimed that a Biden administration would harm them.
“I can’t recall an administration more hostile to farmers than Obama-Biden, unless you count the Biden-Harris ticket,” Ms. Ernst said. “The Democratic Party of Joe Biden is pushing this so-called Green New Deal. If given power, they would essentially ban animal agriculture and eliminate gas-powered cars. It would destroy the agriculture industry, not just here in Iowa, but throughout the country.”
Mr. Biden has promised no such thing. He never endorsed the Green New Deal, much to the frustration of his party’s more progressive elements. He has endorsed reinstating higher fuel efficiency standards put in place by President Barack Obama and rescinded by Mr. Trump.
Ms. Ernst, who won in the 2014 Republican wave and faces a tight challenge this year, is betting her best chance to secure re-election is by tethering herself tightly to President Trump. On Wednesday she kept her remarks narrowly focused on Iowa, praising Mr. Trump for visiting the state after a storm damaged much of the state this month.
Like many speakers during the convention, Ms. Ernst laced her remarks with heavy criticism of the national news media — and praise for the president, who she said had bent media coverage to his will.
After the storm, Ms. Ernst said, “most of the national media looked the other way. To them, Iowa is still just flyover country.” She added, “When President Trump came to Cedar Rapids, the national media finally did, too.”
There is scarce public polling in Iowa, but a poll from The Des Moines Register in June showed Ms. Ernst’s Democratic opponent, Theresa Greenfield, ahead by three percentage points. This month, a Monmouth poll showed Ms. Ernst ahead by one point; each candidate’s polling lead was within the margin of error.
The race has already set fund-raising records for an Iowa Senate contest, and is expected to result in more money spent on TV advertising than ever before in the state.
Ms. Ernst’s convention appearance could only be better for her than her 2016 speech in Cleveland, which was largely overshadowed by the debut, directly before she took the stage, of the “lock her up” chant led by Michael T. Flynn, a Trump campaign adviser at the time. Mr. Flynn spoke for far longer than his allotted time, and Ms. Ernst was given less time to speak than she had planned for.
On Wednesday night, Ms. Ernst’s remarks, which were recorded from Des Moines, followed a prerecorded veterans’ round-table discussion.
In her 2014 campaign, Ms. Ernst pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, balance the federal budget and cut spending. “Let’s make ’em squeal,” she said in a viral ad, highlighting her history castrating hogs on her family’s farm.
But after Mr. Trump’s election in 2016 — Ms. Ernst had an interview with him when he was in search of a running mate — she backed away from her campaign promises to become one of the president’s stalwart defenders.
Her first 2020 TV ad echoes Mr. Trump’s tone on China.
“We rely on Communist China for far too much, from technology to medicine,” she said. “So I’m fighting to bring it home.”
For at least a decade, Representative Lee Zeldin of New York has been promoted as a Republican rising star.
Mr. Zeldin, 40, is a lawyer and Iraq war veteran from Long Island who first won election to the New York State Senate in 2010 by campaigning against a payroll tax that funded the New York subway and commuter railways.
Since he was elected to Congress in the 2014 Republican wave, Mr. Zeldin has become a staunch supporter of President Trump, who carried Mr. Zeldin’s eastern Long Island congressional district by 12 percentage points after Barack Obama had won it in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Mr. Zeldin’s defense of Mr. Trump during the initial House impeachment proceedings was so thorough that no Republican spoke more than he did, according to a review of early deposition transcripts last year by NBC News.
On Wednesday night he used his four-minute Republican convention speaking slot to praise Mr. Trump — and his son-in-law Jared Kushner — for providing his district in Suffolk County and New York City with personal protective equipment for medical workers caring for coronavirus patients.
“Jared Kushner and I were on the phone late” one Saturday night, Mr. Zeldin said. “The very next day, President Trump announced he was sending us 200,000 N95 masks. He actually delivered more than 400,000.”
Mr. Zeldin’s praise for the Trump administration neglects to mention what was a nationwide shortage in medical-grade masks and other protective equipment for doctors and nurses. The Trump administration’s response was a scattershot effort that led to various governors’ begging the White House for help and offering public praise of Mr. Trump, some of which has been used in footage that has been aired during this week’s Republican National Convention.
Mr. Zeldin also stated that New York’s hospitals were able to handle all of the patients suffering from the pandemic — a claim that does not comport with how the pandemic played out in New York this spring.
Mr. Zeldin, one of just two Jewish Republicans in Congress, won re-election relatively easily in 2016 and 2018, but faces a significant challenge this year from Nancy Goroff, a chemistry professor at Stony Brook University. The Cook Political Report rates the contest as “Lean Republican,” and the House Democrats’ campaign arm on Wednesday added Ms. Goroff to its “Red to Blue” list of most competitive races.
The Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng on Wednesday praised President Trump’s handling of relations with China and said he had “shown the courage” to stand up to China’s Communist Party.
In China, “expressing beliefs or ideas not approved by the C.C.P. — religion, democracy, human rights — can lead to prison,” Mr. Chen said at the Republican convention. “The nation lives under mass surveillance and censorship.”
He added: “The U.S. must use its values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law to gather a coalition of other democracies to stop C.C.P.’s aggression. President Trump has led on this, and we need the other countries to join him in this fight.”
Mr. Chen, who was persecuted and confined to his home by the Chinese government, escaped to the United States in 2012 with the help of officials at the American Embassy in Beijing. Under a deal with the Chinese government, negotiated under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he received a fellowship to attend law school in New York.
Madison Cawthorn, a 25-year-old House candidate in North Carolina vying to fill the seat vacated by Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, offered himself as the future of the Republican Party on Wednesday night at its convention.
In remarks that — highly unusual at this convention — focused on himself instead of President Trump, Mr. Cawthorn placed himself in the company of twentysomething founding fathers: George Washington, who received a military commission at 21; Abraham Lincoln, who ran for office at 22; and James Madison, who Mr. Cawthorn said signed the Declaration of Independence at 25.
(Mr. Madison, who was 25 in 1776, did not sign the Declaration of Independence.)
“In times of peril, young people have stepped up and saved this country abroad and at home,” Mr. Cawthorn said. “We held the line, scaled the cliffs, crossed oceans, liberated camps and cracked codes.”
As his remarks ended, Mr. Cawthorn, who is paralyzed from the waist down, dramatically lifted himself up onto a walker as he recited the phrase “to the republic, for which I stand.”
It was a moment seemingly intended to go viral, fitting with how Mr. Cawthorn rocketed to national prominence in June, when he upset a Trump-endorsed candidate to win his primary.
He was just 24 years old, a self-described real estate investor who uses a wheelchair after being paralyzed from a car crash. The crash, he said at the time, “derailed” plans to attend the Naval Academy.
But as it turned out, Mr. Cawthorn — who has since turned 25, the legal age to serve in the House — has little real estate portfolio to speak of, had his application to the Naval Academy rejected before his car accident, and once drew scrutiny for a post on social media about Adolf Hitler.
This month, Jezebel unearthed several pictures on Mr. Cawthorn’s Instagram page from a 2017 trip he had taken to Germany. There, he visited Hitler’s vacation home.
“The vacation house of the Führer,” he wrote. “Seeing the Eagles Nest has been on my bucket list for awhile, it did not disappoint.”
He added: “Strange to hear so many laughs and share such a good time with my brother where only 79 years ago a supreme evil shared laughs and good times with his compatriots.”
Mr. Cawthorn later wrote on Facebook that he had visited the historical site to celebrate the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany. In a subsequent video, he said political attacks suggesting he had affinity for the Nazi regime were “an attack on disabled people.”
During his speech on Wednesday, Mr. Cawthorn made no mention or allusion to his social media posts. Instead he made a call, during a convention otherwise devoted to trashing liberals as America-haters, for both sides of the political spectrum to get along.
“We are committed to building a new town square,” he said. “To liberals, I say let’s have a conversation. Be a true liberal, listen to other ideas and let the best ones prevail. And to conservatives, let’s define what we support and win the argument in areas like health care and on the environment.”
Mr. Cawthorn is almost certain to win his general election and go to Washington next year. Mr. Trump carried Mr. Cawthorn’s western North Carolina district by 17 percentage points in 2016. Mr. Cawthorn’s campaign did not make him available to be interviewed.
Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the youngest Republican woman elected to Congress, called President Trump “the only candidate who will stand up for hardworking families and protect the American dream for future generations.”
Echoing many other convention speakers this week, Ms. Stefanik framed the election as “a choice between the far-left democratic socialist agenda versus protecting and preserving the American dream.” (The Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., from the party’s center-left wing, does not advocate socialism and won the primary over candidates from the left.)
“President Trump is working to safely reopen our Main Street economy,” she said. “He understands that the engine of our country is fueled by the ingenuity and determination of American workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Joe Biden wants to keep them locked up in the basement and crush them with $4 trillion in new taxes.”
Ms. Stefanik, who was the youngest member of Congress from either party when she was elected in 2014, developed a moderate, bipartisan reputation in her first few years in office, and sometimes clashed with leadership over the party’s future. She called for a post-mortem analysis after the 2018 midterms and has criticized Republican leaders for not devoting more resources to electing women; she started her own political action committee to support Republican women running for Congress.
But during President Trump’s impeachment hearings, Ms. Stefanik took a much sharper tone, at one point accusing the Democratic committee leader, Representative Adam B. Schiff, of trying to silence her and her colleagues “simply because we are Republicans.” Mr. Trump tweeted his approval.
Since then, Ms. Stefanik’s Twitter feed has become more reminiscent of Mr. Trump’s, complete with a nickname for her Democratic opponent, Tedra Cobb: “Taxin’ Tedra.”
That tone also characterized her convention speech, in which she said Mr. Trump had “fought tirelessly to deliver results for all Americans, despite the Democrats’ baseless and illegal impeachment sham and the media’s endless obsession with it.”
“I was proud to lead the effort standing up for the Constitution, President Trump and, most importantly, the American people,” she said. “This attack was not just on the president. It was an attack on you, your voice and your vote.”
Ms. Stefanik said that Americans had not been swayed, and that “our support for President Trump is stronger than ever before,” though Mr. Trump’s approval rating in the RealClearPolitics average is lower now than it was the day the Senate acquitted him in February.
The head of a national organization that advocates on behalf of law enforcement hailed President Trump as a staunch defender of the police on Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention amid national upheaval over the police killing of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis.
The speaker, Michael “Mick” McHale, leads the National Association of Police Organizations, a coalition of police unions and associations from across the country. He praised Mr. Trump for his “support of aggressive federal prosecution of those who attack our police officers” and baselessly claimed that Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, had allowed his campaign to be taken over by people who are “anti-law enforcement.”
“I’m proud that the overwhelming majority of American police officers are the best of the best and put their lives on the line without hesitation,” said Mr. McHale, who met with Mr. Trump at the White House last month and whose organization has endorsed him. “Good officers need to know that their elected leaders and the department brass have their backs.”
Mr. McHale’s implicit condemnation of those who have criticized the police and their use of force comes at a time of unrest in Kenosha, after a video showed a police officer shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back. Two people were killed and a third was seriously injured in the protests that followed, and a white teenager who was not affiliated with the protesters was arrested and charged with murder.
Mr. McHale’s dark language reflected the foreboding tone speakers have used throughout the Republican convention, as they have sought to paint a picture of the United States under Democratic leadership as a dystopian country plagued by violence.
Citing what he described as “chaos” in cities like Portland, Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York in recent months, where protesters have taken to the streets to condemn police violence and the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, Mr. McHale echoed the Trump campaign in asserting that when elected leaders “make the conscious decision not to support law enforcement,” shootings, “murders, looting and rioting occur unabated.”
Mr. Trump has repeatedly stressed the need for “law and order” and has embraced the notion of himself as a defender of law enforcement at a time when some progressives — fed up with the killing of Black people by the authorities — have called for defunding the police or in some way lessening their broad roles and responsibilities in communities.
This month, a union representing tens of thousands of New York City police officers endorsed Mr. Trump and became what his campaign said at the time was the sixth police association to do so.
But Mr. Trump has also frequently attacked the country’s top law enforcement officers and sharply criticized institutions like the Justice Department and F.B.I. His relentless critiques of the F.B.I. in relation to its agents’ role in the special counsel inquiry that led to his impeachment has caused both Democrats and Republicans to worry that the president has undermined public confidence in law enforcement.
Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s homestretch campaign manager in 2016, made the case that Mr. Trump, contrary to his image, was a proponent of women’s empowerment.
“A woman in a leadership role can still seem novel,” Ms. Conway said on Wednesday, which was also Women’s Equality Day.
“Not so for President Trump. For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men. President Trump helped me shatter a barrier in the world of politics by empowering me to manage his campaign to its successful conclusion.”
Some women who worked for Mr. Trump’s development company have painted a different picture, claiming that while Mr. Trump hired and promoted women to positions of authority, he sometimes ridiculed them over their physical appearance.
Ms. Conway announced last week that she was stepping down from her post as presidential counselor to spend more time with her family after a long series of social media posts from her teenage daughter criticizing her work for Mr. Trump.
Ms. Conway’s husband, George — a conservative lawyer who has emerged as one of the president’s most pointed and prolific Twitter hecklers — announced that he was leaving his position with the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, at the same time Ms. Conway revealed her White House departure.
Ms. Conway, a longtime Republican pollster, lasted longer in Mr. Trump’s inner circle than almost anyone outside of his family, in part because she was able to pull off an unlikely balancing act — engaging with the news media as she tried to undermine its standing over negative coverage of the president.
But she is likely to be remembered for coining one of the most memorable one-liners of Mr. Trump’s presidency. When pressed about the administration’s inflated claims about the size of the inauguration crowd in 2017, she described those numbers as “alternative facts.”
Karen Pence, who reportedly expressed reservations about her husband’s acceptance of Mr. Trump’s running-mate offer, on Wednesday made one of the least overtly political speeches yet at the Republican convention, focusing on her work with veterans and military spouses.
“I have had the honor of meeting many heroes across this great country,” said Ms. Pence, an artist and educator who has supported art therapy programs geared at helping veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Many of our veteran heroes struggle as they transition back into civilian life,” Ms. Pence said. “Sometimes the stress is too difficult to manage alone.”
Ms. Pence said she had been motivated by family members who have served in the military.
“The Pences are a military family,” she said. “Our son, Michael, serves in the United States Marines, and our son-in-law, Henry, serves in the U.S. Navy.”
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, described how President Trump offered words of support after she underwent a preventive mastectomy two years ago.
“During one of my most difficult times, I expected to have the support of my family, but I had more support than I knew,” Ms. McEnany said. “As I came out of anesthesia, one of the first calls I received was from Ivanka Trump. As I recovered, my phone rang again. It was President Trump, calling to check on me. I was blown away.”
Ms. McEnany’s testimony added another voice to the chorus of speakers at the Republican National Convention who have sought to paint Mr. Trump in a softer and more compassionate light. Ms. McEnany was a late addition to the schedule, people involved in the planning said.
Ms. McEnany became the latest woman on Mr. Trump’s staff who has defended him by pointing to her personal experience with him. Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, and Kellyanne Conway, the outgoing White House counselor, have often defended the president’s behavior by noting that he doesn’t treat them, personally, differently from men on his staff.
On Tuesday, Melania Trump, the first lady, became one of the only R.N.C. speakers to acknowledge the lives lost to the coronavirus, as she tried to cast a softer light on her husband’s presidency, which has often been filled with anger and derision.
In her own speech, Ms. McEnany told voters of the trials of raising a small child and of living with a health condition. (She had previously written about undergoing a preventive double mastectomy to lower her risk of breast cancer after testing positive for the BRCA2 mutation.)
She said Mr. Trump “stands by Americans with pre-existing conditions,” despite the fact that Mr. Trump supports undoing the Affordable Care Act’s protections for those with such conditions.
Her remarks were part of a broader project to make Mr. Trump more palatable to women. Tuesday’s program, for instance, included a prerecorded video which praised Mr. Trump’s record of promoting women to key positions in the White House.
Ms. McEnany, who was the national press secretary for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign before being named his fourth White House press secretary earlier this year, also told viewers about her 9-month-old daughter, framing her fight for Mr. Trump as a fight for to protect her daughter’s future.
“I choose to work for this president for her,” she said. “When I look into my baby’s eyes, I see a new life, a miracle for which I have a solemn responsibility to protect. That means protecting America’s future — a future President Trump will fight for.”
Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas, a retired Navy SEAL who was elected to Congress in 2018, drew on his experience fighting in Afghanistan to paint America as a “country of heroes” and shared sacrifice in a speech on Wednesday night at the Republican convention.
Mr. Crenshaw, who was deployed five times before being medically retired in 2016, spoke of a friend on the battlefield who had helped ensure his survival, but was killed just weeks later. And as he emphasized a theme of Wednesday’s programming, he sought to highlight everyday Americans as heroes, while also leveling a series of implicit critiques at those who have challenged the status quo and fought for racial justice.
“It’s the parent who will relearn algebra because there’s no way they’re letting their kid fall behind while schools are closed,” he said. “And it’s the cop that gets spit on one day and will save a child’s life the next.”
“Heroism is self-sacrifice, not moralizing and lecturing over others when they disagree,” he added. “Heroism is grace, not perpetual outrage. Heroism is rebuilding our communities, not destroying them. Heroism is renewing faith in the symbols that unite us, not tearing them down.”
Mr. Crenshaw, who represents an area surrounding Houston, won his 2018 race by more than seven percentage points in a Republican-leaning but potentially competitive state in the November general election. His Democratic opponent this year is Sima Ladjevardian, an Iranian-American lawyer and political activist who was previously an adviser to Beto O’Rourke.
Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee gave a dark convention speech, claiming that Democrats wanted to “cancel” law enforcement and service members.
“Leftists try to turn them into villains, they want to cancel them, but I’m here to tell you these heroes can’t be canceled,” said Ms. Blackburn, a firebrand conservative and one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal defenders. “As hard as Democrats try, they can’t cancel our heroes. They can’t contest their bravery, and they can’t dismiss the powerful sense of service that lives deep in their souls. So they try to defund them — our military, our police, even ICE — to take away their tools to keep us safe.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, does not support defunding the police or ICE. Nor does he support “defunding” the military, though he expressed openness during the primary to reducing the defense budget somewhat.
Delving deeply into the culture-war rhetoric that has dominated much of the Republican Party during the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Blackburn criticized lockdown restrictions that, in some places, closed churches while allowing liquor stores and abortion clinics to stay open. (Churches, and other indoor spaces where large groups of people gather for extended periods of time, have been linked to much more coronavirus transmission than stores or clinics.)
In a fear-mongering message, she also suggested that Democrats wanted to control Americans.
“If the Democrats had their way, they would keep you locked in your house until you become dependent on the government for everything,” she said. “That sounds a lot like Communist China to me.”
Ms. Blackburn, who was elected to the Senate in 2018 after more than 15 years in the House, was known for much of her career for her opposition to abortion, though she turned to a broader pro-Trump message both in her most recent campaign and in her speech on Tuesday. She led a House committee that investigated allegations in 2015 and 2016 that Planned Parenthood had sold fetal tissue for profit; neither the congressional investigation nor multiple state-level inquiries substantiated those allegations.
Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota is one of Mr. Trump’s favorite admirers — so popular, in fact, that rumors have swirled from time to time that she might be called upon to replace Wednesday night’s keynote speaker, Mike Pence, on the 2020 ticket.
Ms. Noem echoed Mr. Trump’s hard-edge language against demonstrators protesting police violence in her speech, hours after a pro-Trump teenager from Illinois was arrested in connection with the killing of two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., after the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake.
“From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs,” she said. “The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder. People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t — good, hard-working Americans — are left to fend for themselves.”
Ms. Noem, the first female governor of her state, has been a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump’s law-and-order campaign, and ushered through a law lifting a requirement for licenses for concealed firearms as one of her first actions after being elected in 2018.
When the president went so far as to suggest, according to the Argus Leader, that he aspired to see his own chiseled visage on Mount Rushmore someday, Ms. Noem (who has no say over such matters) seemed open to the suggestion.
She even ordered up a four-foot-tall model of the statue with a fifth face on it (his). The president returned the favor with an appearance at the national monument earlier this year, a boon to one of his most unapologetic defenders.
The arrest of a 17-year-old Illinois native in connection with the killing of two people protesting a police shooting in Kenosha, Wis., threatens to overshadow the third night of a Republican convention that has portrayed President Trump as a bulwark against chaos and unrest.
By late Wednesday, a storm of discordant news descended on the Republican convention bubble in Washington as a strengthening Hurricane Laura menaced Louisiana and Texas.
The shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by the police in Kenosha, a city of 100,000 people between Chicago and Milwaukee, has created a powerful and growing cascade of reaction that could influence the content — and certainly the context — of speeches scheduled to be delivered by Vice President Mike Pence and others.
Planners would not say if they were making any changes to address the developments.
The NBA scrapped its playoff schedule after Milwaukee Bucks players announced a boycott in protest of the shooting of Mr. Blake as Democrats condemned the inclusion on Monday night’s program of a Missouri couple who had brandished weapons at protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.
President Trump sought to seize the initiative early Wednesday, announcing that he would deploy the National Guard and other law enforcement to Kenosha, Wis., to quell the unrest that has erupted since the police there shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, on Sunday.
“I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
But the focus quickly shifted back to the tenor of his campaign, when it became apparent that the suspected gunman, Kyle Rittenhouse, was a white pro-police activist, and not one of the protesters demonstrating against the police.
Late Wednesday, Buzzfeed reported that Mr. Rittenhouse appeared to be in the front row of a Trump campaign rally in January, standing not far from the president.
The shooting took place as a crowd was gathering near a gas station, where protesters encountered a group of men who were carrying guns and saying they wanted to protect the area from looting.
Mr. Blake, 29, was shot several times in the back by a police officer as he tried to get into the driver-side door of an S.U.V. His three children were in the back seat. Mr. Blake was paralyzed from the waist down, his father said.
Within hours of the shooting, graphic video of it taken by a neighbor raced across social media, and Kenosha erupted into protest, looting and fires downtown. Officers used tear gas to try to disperse protesters.
Protests continued on Monday and Tuesday, and on Tuesday night, a face-off at a gas station between protesters and armed men who promised to protect the property turned into the violent confrontation that led to Mr. Rittenhouse’s arrest. In addition to the two people shot dead, a third was left seriously injured.
In one of the most striking moments of the second night of the Republican convention on Tuesday — both for its content and for its blatant disregard of the separation between the White House and the campaign trail — President Trump held a naturalization ceremony for five immigrants.
It was an obvious effort by Mr. Trump’s campaign to cast him as pro-immigrant after three and a half years of anti-immigrant policies. But at least two of the five new citizens were not told it was being broadcast at the convention.
The decision by Mr. Trump’s campaign to feature the naturalization ceremony angered some senior officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Some asylum officers confronted senior agency officials during a virtual town hall on Wednesday about whether Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, had violated rules prohibiting political activity by presiding over the ceremony.
“It’s one of the things that shouldn’t be politicized, and you can hardly get more political than your partisan political convention,” said Barbara Strack, a former chief of the refugee affairs division at Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Bush and Obama administrations.
The Trump campaign has halted its broadcast television advertising campaign, pulling down all broadcast ads on Tuesday with no new ads scheduled to start until Sept. 8, a two-week dark period with less than 70 days to go until the election.
It is the second time over the past 30 days that the Trump campaign has gone completely dark on broadcast television, having paused advertising in late July following the shift in leadership as Bill Stepien took over as campaign manager from Brad Parscale. They are maintaining a presence on national cable.
The pause comes as the Biden campaign has been amping up its television advertising presence. In the period that the Trump campaign is slated to be dark, the Biden campaign has roughly $20 million booked in battleground states. In the immediate aftermath of the convention, the Biden campaign will have the airwaves to itself.
In a statement, the Trump campaign said the recent campaigning by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, combined with the coverage of the convention, was enough media to carry them. The campaign also said, “we will be back up on broadcast TV well before September 8th.”
“Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have been visibly visiting battleground states, meeting actual voters and dominating local news coverage,” said Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for the Trump campaign. “It also makes little sense to blow donor money on ads during convention weeks, when all of the national media is focused on the candidates anyway. Our continuing massive digital presence, with special emphasis on the convention weeks, should not be discounted.”
The post-convention break follows a similar pause during Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, when he stopped all television advertising for nearly a month after the conclusion of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. But that convention ended in mid July, and he was not the well-funded incumbent he is now. Even so, the 2016 Trump campaign was advertising by late August.
The campaign has kept up a notable digital advertising presence, spending nearly $4 million on Facebook alone over the past week. There is no publicly available method of tracking future reservations for digital advertising.
Federal officials on Wednesday reported no evidence of coordinated fraud in the implementation of state vote-by-mail efforts, dealing a blow to President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that voting by mail will spur a wave of rigged balloting.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the F.B.I., and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said their investigators had not found any cases of widespread attempts to use the Postal Service to illegally influence the election, during a background briefing with reporters in Washington.
Such efforts would be difficult to execute given the sprawling and decentralized system of voting even if someone tried, they said.
“We have yet to see any activity to prevent voting or to change votes, and we continue to think it would be extraordinarily difficult for foreign adversaries to change vote tallies,” the deputy attorney general under Mr. Barr, Jeffrey A. Rosen, said in separate remarks for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Their assessment is in line with those of state officials who have argued that vastly increasing the use of mail-in voting is the only way to ensure that people concerned about contracting coronavirus by voting in person are not disenfranchised.
Mr. Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr have cast doubt on the security of mail ballots, despite assurances from elections officials in both parties that mail-in voting poses only minimal risks.
In July, and again this month, Mr. Trump has raised the possibility, without evidence, that foreign adversaries would forge mail-in ballots and rig the election. Mr. Trump said the widespread use of mail-in and other absentee balloting is “going to be the greatest election disaster in history.”
“You guys like to talk about Russia and China and other places, they’ll be able to forge ballots, they’ll forge up, they’ll do whatever they have to do,” Mr. Trump said in July.