Trump lashes Biden, defies pandemic on White House stage

WASHINGTON (CBS News) — President Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination for president on Thursday, closing out the final night of the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House, where hundreds of people were seated closely together with few wearing face masks in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed more than 180,000 American lives.

Using the White House as a backdrop for a political event like no president has before, Mr. Trump said he was “brimming with confidence in the bright future we will build for America over the next four years,” while warning that Joe Biden would enact a liberal Democratic agenda if elected.

“This election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life, or whether we allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it,” the president said.

Earlier speakers, as well as the president, focused heavily on unrest that has broken out in American cities in recent months, painting a dark picture of criminals running rampant in the streets while sidestepping the underlying racial injustices that sparked mass protests in the first place.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, said that voting for Biden and other Democrats “creates the risk that you will bring this lawlessness to your city, to your town, to your suburb.” Patrick Lynch, the head of the New York’s largest police union, said “Democratic politicians have surrendered our streets and institutions.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Democrats want to “dismantle our institutions, defund our police and destroy our economy.”

“There is violence and danger in the streets of many Democrat-run cities throughout America,” Mr. Trump himself said later. “This problem could easily be fixed if they wanted to.”

Mr. Trump’s acceptance address came as protests continued to roil Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot several times in the back by a police officer, and a White teenager allegedly shot two people dead at a protest days later.

Rows and rows of chairs spaced just inches apart were set up on the South Lawn of the White House, where attendees waited in the heat for the president’s remarks. Reporters counted roughly 1,900 seats arranged on the South Lawn, with just 50 to 100 seats left vacant during the night’s programming.

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