The Republican National Convention kicked off on Monday, with a succession of Trump family members and right-wing cause célèbres opining darkly about threats to America, the intentions of Democrats, and the direction in which the country was headed. Authoritarianism is coming, Trump’s surrogates warned from a series of dark rooms and flag-draped stages. And it’s because of Joe Biden!
Fear mongering around racial justice protests and other, vaguer, threats became a theme for the evening. The suburbs were a particular target of Trump’s enemies, speakers informed the audience. “They’re not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities. They want to abolish the suburbs all together,” proclaimed Patricia McCloskey, one half of the now-infamous St. Louis gun couple.
The dangers of cancel culture, too, was a bizarrely common talking point. “Our founders believed there was nothing more important than protecting our god-given right to think for ourselves,” Donald Trump Jr. said at one point. “Now, the left, they’re trying to cancel all of those founders.”
One of the most striking moments of the evening came in a high-octane and often unhinged-sounding speech from right-wing commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle. Democrats, she warned, “want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom.”
Trump is expected to appear all four nights of the convention, and broadcast from within the White House on night one. In a series of often awkward liveshots, Trump chatted with rank-and-file supporters, including nurses, business owners and, at one point, former prisoners of authoritarian regimes. That last Q&A session afforded the President the opportunity to utter some cringeworthy praise for Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had done the good deed of eventually letting one of the men seated with Trump walk free.
Catch up with the TPM staff’s minute-by-minute coverage of the event below.