Trouble for Trump as Fox News praises ‘enormously effective’ Biden speech – The Guardian

Under pressure on the last day of the Democratic convention, Joe Biden “hit a home run” with an “enormously effective” speech that blew “a big hole” in Donald Trump’s efforts to paint him as a mentally faltering captive of his party’s left wing.

And that was to hear Fox News hosts Dana Perino and Chris Wallace tell it.

“It was a very good speech,” added Karl Rove, a Republican strategist respected and reviled on either side of the aisle.

Democratic hopes were riding high that when Biden rose to accept the presidential nomination on Thursday night, he might deliver the kind of speech to get voters nodding their heads instead of nodding off, and cable pundits talking about “momentum”.

Broadcast to tens of millions, Biden’s speech marked the first truly national moment of the 2020 campaign, with the formal conclusion of the Democratic primary on one hand, and the first clear picture of the presidential showdown – Biden v Trump, Uncle Joe v Maga Don – on the other.

At a minimum, Democrats hoped, Biden would avoid the kind of verbal slips the Trump campaign has been using eagerly, if ironically given their own candidate’s cha-chas with incoherence, to attack him.

But when Biden was done speaking on Thursday in Wilmington, Delaware, with one arm around Dr Jill Biden, fireworks in the background and his smile as wide as the country, Democrats were not alone in realizing that their nominee had not only connected – he had nailed it.

“I went in there with expectations of adequate, and he knocked it out of the park,” said longtime Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a harsh Trump critic, on an overnight podcast Hacks on Tap. “It was so authentic to who Biden is, and … it caught the mood of the country, which is unity, steady, competence, ‘We can rise above this’.

“I thought Biden had the moment of his life, and he ought to feel really good about that.”

Trump sought to steal Biden’s big moment with campaign stops outside Biden’s home town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, that afternoon. After a speech at an airstrip the president visited a pizza parlor, where he was filmed hoisting a pie, without a face mask, as staff members, all wearing masks, snapped photos and waved excitedly.

“They supposedly have the best pizza,” Trump told reporters. “We’ll let you know in about a half-hour.”





Donald Trump supporters await his arrival in Scranton, Joe Biden’s home town.



Donald Trump supporters await his arrival in Scranton, Joe Biden’s home town. Photograph: Chris Tuite/Rex/Shutterstock

Alert on Friday morning to a need to nip Biden’s moment in the bud, the Trump campaign deployed Vice-President Mike Pence on five morning shows, where he argued that Biden, a known quantity in Washington for 50 years, was a lurking socialist.

“It’s a choice between President Trump’s record and agenda of freedom and opportunity, versus a Democrat agenda driven by the radical left and Joe Biden’s vision that will result in socialism and decline for America,” Pence told Fox News.

In reply to criticism by Biden of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, Pence demonstrated the extraordinary ability of the two parties to talk past one another.

“The president keeps telling us the virus is going to disappear,” Biden said in his speech. “He keeps waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for him, no miracle is coming.”

Pence told CNN: “We think there is a miracle around the corner.”

The biggest near-term opportunity for Trump and Republicans to draw a contrast with Biden will be through their own convention, which is scheduled to begin on Monday with more in-person, physical elements than the all-virtual Democratic event.


DNC 2020: from emotional speeches backing Biden to fiery warnings on Trump – video highlights

Controversially, Trump plans to accept the nomination on the grounds of the White House on Thursday, in apparent violation of laws requiring that political campaigning be kept separate from the conduct of office.

The president and vice-president are exempt from the law, but broad party participation in such a major campaign event is inevitable. Trump has invited most Republican lawmakers (though not Senator Mitt Romney, who voted for his impeachment and removal from office) to the White House lawn to watch his speech. The campaign plans to set off fireworks on the National Mall.

Unlike Democrats, Republicans also plan to convene delegates in-person in Charlotte, North Carolina. Trump had unconfirmed plans to visit the 336 delegates on Monday, although the Democratic governor of the state has led an effort to ensure that Republicans abide by public health guidelines.

“We were not going to let the governor’s partisan politics come between us and our commitment to North Carolina,” Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee – and Romney’s niece – told the New York Times.

That commitment had wavered. Trump announced earlier this summer that the convention would be moved to Florida, where a Republican governor had proposed no coronavirus restrictions. A large Covid-19 outbreak in that state returned the event to Charlotte.

With the force of his speech on Thursday night, Biden, 77, was seen as implicitly rebutting Trump’s accusation that he had lost a step. But Biden’s rebuttal of Trump’s other attack – that the former vice-president and six-term senator is a Trojan horse for the terrors of “socialism” – was explicit.

“While I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president,” Biden said. “I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did. That’s the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party.”

Biden appeared to have won some converts. “Joe wows critics,” the Drudge Report, usually a clearinghouse for the most astringent conservative messaging, exclaimed on Friday morning.

Its banner headline? “Biden Barn Burner”.

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