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Trump Proposes Populist Agenda at RNC  07/19 06:18

   Donald Trump, somber and bandaged, accepted the GOP presidential nomination 
on Thursday at the Republican National Convention in a speech that described in 
detail the assassination attempt that could have ended his life just five days 
earlier before laying out a sweeping populist agenda, particularly on 

   MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Donald Trump, somber and bandaged, accepted the GOP 
presidential nomination on Thursday at the Republican National Convention in a 
speech that described in detail the assassination attempt that could have ended 
his life just five days earlier before laying out a sweeping populist agenda, 
particularly on immigration.

   The 78-year-old former president, known best for his bombast and aggressive 
rhetoric, began his acceptance speech with a softer and deeply personal message 
that drew directly from his brush with death. Moment by moment, the crowd 
listening in silence, Trump described standing onstage in Butler, Pennsylvania, 
with his head turned to look at a chart on display when he felt something hit 
his ear. He raised his hand to his head and saw immediately that it was covered 
in blood.

   "If I had not moved my head at that very last instant, the assassin's bullet 
would have perfectly hit its mark," Trump said. "And I would not be here 
tonight. We would not be together."

   Trump's address, the longest convention speech in modern history at just 
under 93 minutes, marked the climax and conclusion of a massive four-day 
Republican pep rally that drew thousands of conservative activists and elected 
officials to swing-state Wisconsin as voters weigh an election that currently 
features two deeply unpopular candidates. Sensing political opportunity in the 
wake of his near-death experience, the often bombastic Republican leader 
embraced a new tone he hopes will help generate even more momentum in an 
election that appears to be shifting in his favor.

   "The discord and division in our society must be healed. We must heal it 
quickly. As Americans, we are bound together by a single fate and a shared 
destiny. We rise together. Or we fall apart," Trump said, wearing a large white 
bandage on his right ear, as he has all week, to cover a wound he sustained in 
the Saturday shooting. "I am running to be president for all of America, not 
half of America, because there is no victory in winning for half of America."

   While he spoke in a gentler tone than at his usual rallies, Trump also 
outlined an agenda led by what he promises would be the largest deportation 
operation in U.S. history. He repeatedly accused people crossing the 
U.S.-Mexico border illegally of staging an "invasion." Additionally, he teased 
new tariffs on trade and an "America first" foreign policy.

   Trump also falsely suggested Democrats had cheated during the 2020 election 
he lost -- despite a raft of federal and state investigations proving there was 
no systemic fraud -- and suggested "we must not criminalize dissent or demonize 
political disagreement," even as he has long called for prosecutions of his 

   He did not mention abortion rights, an issue that has bedeviled Republicans 
ever since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federally guaranteed right to 
abortion two years ago. Trump nominated three of the six justices who 
overturned Roe v. Wade. Trump at his rallies often takes credit for Roe being 
overturned and argues states should have the right to institute their own 
abortion laws.

   Nor did he mention the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in 
which Trump supporters tried to stop the certification of his loss to Democrat 
Joe Biden. Trump has long referred to the people jailed for the riot as 

   Indeed, Trump barely mentioned Biden, often referring only to the "current 

   "It was Donald Trump who destroyed our economy, ripped away rights, and 
failed middle class families," said Jen O'Malley Dillon, the Biden campaign 
chair, in a statement after the speech. "Now he pursues the presidency with an 
even more extreme vision for where he wants to take this country."

   The RNC ends at an uncertain moment in the race

   With less than four months to go in the contest, major changes in the race 
are possible, if not likely.

   Trump's appearance came as Biden, the 81-year-old Democratic incumbent, 
clings to his party's presumptive nomination in the face of unrelenting 
pressure from key congressional allies, donors and even former President Barack 
Obama, who fear he may be unable to win reelection after his disastrous debate.

   Long pressed by allies to campaign more vigorously, Biden is instead in 
isolation at his beach home in Delaware after having been diagnosed with 

   Hours before the balloons were scheduled to rain down on Trump and his 
family inside the convention hall, Biden deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks 
appeared nearby in Milwaukee and insisted over and over that Biden would not 
step aside.

   "I do not want to be rude, but I don't know how many more times I can answer 
that," Fulks told reporters. "There are no plans being made to replace Biden on 
the ballot."

   Strength on the program

   Thursday's RNC program seemed designed to project strength and masculinity 
in an implicit rebuke of Biden.

   Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White called Trump "a real 
American bad ass." Kid Rock performed a song with the chorus, "Fight, fight!," 
echoing the word Trump mouthed on stage in Pennsylvania as Secret Service 
agents surrounded him. And wrestling icon Hulk Hogan described the former 
president as "an American hero."

   Hogan drew a raucous response when, standing on the main stage, he ripped 
off his shirt to reveal a red "Make America Great Again" shirt.

   "As an entertainer, I try to stay out of politics," Hogan said as he briefly 
broke character. "I can no longer stay silent."

   Like many speakers during the convention, former Fox News host Tucker 
Carlson suggested that recent events were divinely inspired and that he 
wondered "if something bigger is going on."

   "I think it changed him," Carlson said of the shooting, praising Trump for 
not lashing out in anger afterward.

   "He did his best to bring the country together," Carlson added. "This is the 
most responsible, unifying behavior from a leader I've ever seen."

   Former first lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump, the president's elder 
daughter and former senior adviser, joined Trump in the convention hall ahead 
of his speech, making their first appearances there. Neither woman spoke.

   At nearly 93 minutes, the former president's speech eclipsed the 74 minutes 
for which he spoke eight years ago, according to the American Presidency 
Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

   Republicans leave their convention united

   The convention has showcased a Republican Party reshaped by Trump since he 
shocked the GOP establishment and won over the party's grassroots on his way to 
the party's 2016 nomination. Rivals Trump has vanquished -- including Sens. Ted 
Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley 
and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis -- put aside their past criticisms and gave him 
their unqualified support.

   Even his vice presidential pick, Ohio Sen. JD Vance, Trump's choice to carry 
his movement into the next generation, was once a fierce critic who suggested 
in a private message since made public that Trump could be "America's Hitler."

   Security was a major focus in Milwaukee in the wake of Trump's 
near-assassination. But after nearly four full days, there were no serious 
incidents inside the convention hall or the large security perimeter that 
surrounded it.

   The Secret Service, backed by hundreds of law enforcement officers from 
across the nation, had a large and visible presence. And during Trump's 
appearances each night, he was surrounded by a wall of protective agents 
wherever he went.

   Meanwhile, Trump and his campaign have not released information about his 
injury or the treatment he received. The former president on Thursday described 
his story of surviving the attack -- and vowed he would not talk about it again.

   "I'm not supposed to be here tonight," Trump told the packed convention 
hall. The crowd of thousands, which was listening in silence, shouted back, 
"Yes, you are."

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