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Eric Trump’s RNC speech had something rare: Policy substance

President Trump’s second son went light on red meat for the base and highlighted — sometimes misleadingly — the administration’s accomplishments.

Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump, prerecords his address to the Republican National Convention at the Mellon Auditorium on August 25, 2020, in Washington, DC. 
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The first two days of the 2020 Republican National Convention have featured plenty of red meat for the party’s ultraconservative base, as well as dire warnings over what might result from a potential Joe Biden presidency. But President Donald Trump’s second son, Eric Trump, delivered an address Tuesday evening that moved beyond just appeals to the base, highlighting his father’s conservative credibility and accomplishments.

Using imagery of the Hoover Dam and Mount Rushmore, Trump’s speech painted a picture of an industrious heartland, ignored by the coastal elites. “Every day my father fights for the American people,” he said. “The forgotten men and women of this country. The ones who embody the American spirit.”

Trump endeavored to appeal to those who feel forgotten — including those who have not tuned in to his appearances on Fox News. Working to sway undecided moderate voters, he mentioned a laundry list of supposed “promises kept,” a repeated theme throughout the early part of the convention. Among them were the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy, cut regulations, an improved economy and reduced unemployment (before the pandemic triggered a collapse), and increased military funding, and the move of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Whether these accomplishments actually benefited “the forgotten men and women of this country” is debatable — the tax cuts largely benefited corporations and didn’t lead to increased wages, for instance. But in highlighting them, Trump clearly laid out what voters could expect from a second term for his father: a focus on deregulation, rewards for businesses, and decision-making that acknowledges the goals of evangelicals.

Trump’s speech also clearly — albeit through hyperbole — warned voters what they would lose in a potential “radical” Biden administration, predicting higher taxes (something Americans making more than $400,000 a year would likely see under Biden’s plans) and defunding the police (something Biden does not support).

“In the view of the radical Democrats, America is the source of the world’s problems. As a result, they believe the only path forward is to erase history and forget the past. They want to destroy the monuments of our forefathers,” he said. “They want to disrespect our national anthem by taking a knee, while our armed forces lay down their lives every day to protect our freedom. They do not want the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools. Many do not want one nation under God. The Democrats want to defund, destroy, and disrespect our law enforcement.”

Trump went on to contrast this depiction of Democrats with his father, who he claimed is a champion for law enforcement, religious people, the “canceled,” coal miners, and farmers. “To every proud American who bleeds red, white, and blue — my father will continue to fight for you,” Trump said.

It remains to be seen whether any moderates will be swayed by the convention, particularly as few speakers, Eric Trump included, have substantively addressed how another term for President Trump would better solve a deadly pandemic and a deepening economic crisis than a Biden administration. But the path to convincing those voters lies in remarks like Trump’s speech — a departure from the rhetoric tailor-made for Trump fans heard on Monday night.

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