Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump’s fiercest defenders, gave one more official boost to her boss during the third night of the Republican National Convention, as she prepares to leave the White House at the end of the month.
She was just one of Trump's high-profile female aides who vouched for him on Wednesday evening, while also bashing China and sharing personal tales of adversity.
Wednesday’s agenda was billed as the “Land of Heroes,” and featured Vice President Mike Pence, lawmakers, and famed football coach Lou Holtz, who questioned presidential candidate Joe Biden's Catholic faith.
Here are the key moments of the third evening of the RNC.
Noem compares racial unrest to the time of Lincoln
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem kicked off the night by condemning violence in American cities while referencing the writings of former President Abraham Lincoln during a similar period of unrest.
“He was alarmed by the increasing disregard for the rule of law throughout the country. He was concerned for the people who had seen their property destroyed, their families attacked, and their lives threatened or even taken away. These good people were becoming tired of, and disgusted with, a government that offered them no protection,” Noem said. “Sound familiar?”
Noem described a nation on the precipice of splitting at the seams, similar to when Lincoln took over as president. The governor asserted that the U.S. could lose its greatness “in a tiny fraction” of the 244 years it took to be built up “if we continue down the path taken by the Democrats and their radical supporters.”
And she cast Trump as a fighter for “another American hero … the common American,” who she said were the victims of Democratic policies in big cities being “overrun by violent mobs.”
Noem praised the Republican Party for its treatment of all people, arguing that Trump’s policies had “lifted people of all races and backgrounds out of poverty” and that Republicans treat people “as Martin Luther King, Jr. wished — according to the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”
Blackburn links Democrats to 'Communist China'
Sen. Marsha Blackburn compared Democrats who want to lock down the country in response to the coronavirus to “Communist China,” and accused presidential candidate Joe Biden of being “soft” on Beijing.
“If the Democrats had their way, they would keep you locked in your house until you become dependent on the government for everything,” Blackburn said. “That sounds a lot like Communist China to me — maybe that’s why Joe Biden is so soft on them.”
She added that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says “China would prefer Joe Biden. Yeah I bet they would.”
During her speech, Blackburn hit China for failing to control the virus. She praised the “regular” Americans, including “medical researchers developing a vaccine and therapies to combat what the Chinese Communist regime unleashed on the world.”
She also accused Democrats of trying to “cancel” law enforcement and the military, noting that Trump, by contrast, “has stood up for our heroes every day.”
“And I hope you will stand with me as we send him back for four more years with a clear message to the Democrats: you will never cancel our heroes,” she said.
‘Trump is no hawk’: Kellogg boasts of president’s foreign policy
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Pence, said that voters should reelect Trump because he has made the U.S. safer and kept troops out of “needless conflicts.”
Kellogg touted the agreement reached last week between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize diplomatic relations and the killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as among the Trump administration’s top foreign policy accomplishments.
“Trump is no hawk,” Kellogg said. “He wisely wields the sword when required, but believes in seeking peace instead of perpetual conflict.”
Kellogg also referenced during his speech the upcoming start of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which he said the U.S. would help broker. “This week, Afghan negotiators, with help from American officials, will start peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government to end America’s longest war,” he said.
It was unclear whether the comment represented an actual breakthrough in the talks, which have faced months of delays.
“This week, Afghan negotiators, with help from American officials, will start peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government to end America’s longest war,” he said.
His full-throated defense of the Trump administration’s foreign policy also included a not-so-veiled swipe at one of the most prominent critics of the president’s diplomatic approach.
“I have been in the room where it happened,” Kellogg said, a reference to the tell-all book by that title written by John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser. “I saw only one agenda and one guiding question when tough calls had to be made — is this decision right for America?”
Kayleigh McEnany shares personal story with breast cancer scare
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany shared a personal story about her struggles with breast cancer and the support she received from the Trump family post-surgery to highlight the president’s empathy.
At the age of 21, McEnany said she was diagnosed with a genetic mutation that dramatically increases her likelihood of getting breast cancer. She said it was a frightening development and noted she is no stranger to the disease: Eight people in her family were diagnosed with breast cancer and her mother, who has the same genetic mutation, received a preventative double mastectomy. After a decade of regular checkups, McEnany said she decided to go through with the same procedure as her mother in 2018.
“I was scared,” she said. “The night before, I fought back tears as I prepared to lose a piece of myself forever.”
She expected the overwhelming support from her friends and family post-surgery, she said. What she didn’t expect, however, was phone calls from Ivanka Trump and the president (who she’d only met a few times at that point). “I was blown away,” she said. “Here was the leader of the free world caring about my circumstance.” She added that he said he was proud of McEnany for sharing her story about her mastectomy.
“Choosing to have a preventative mastectomy was the hardest decision I ever had to make,” she said. “But supporting President Trump, who will protect my daughter and our children's future, was the easiest.”
Kellyanne Conway looks to humanize Trump in her last major appearance
Kellyanne Conway, in what was likely her last major public appearance before leaving the White House, joined a host of women before in trying to humanize the president as she highlighted Trump’s elevating of women.
Dressed in suffragette white and noting that she was speaking on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Conway pointed out that even in 2020, “a woman in a leadership role still can seem novel.”
“Not so for President Trump,” she continued. “For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men.”
Conway then went on to describe Trump’s empathy, saying she had seen “firsthand, many times,” Trump comforting those in pain and who had suffered a major loss.
Lou Holtz: Biden is a ‘Catholic in name only’
Lou Holtz, the former head football coach of Notre Dame, took a swipe at Biden’s faith by saying the Democratic presidential candidate is a “Catholic in name only,” in part for having what he called the most radically pro-abortion campaign in history.
The criticism came as Holtz praised Trump, saying the president exhibited trust, commitment and love, while adding that the same cannot apply to Biden.
“There are people today like politicians, professors, protesters, and, of course, President Trump's naysayers, in the media who like to blame others for problems. They don't have pride in our country,” Holtz said.
Biden, a devout Catholic who is known to carry rosary beads in his pocket, has spoken frequently about his faith, especially the role it played as he grieved the deaths of his wife and 1-year-old daughter after a car accident in 1972, as well as the death of his son Beau in 2015 due to brain cancer.
Stefanik: Trump’s impeachment was ‘an attack on you’
Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York touted her role defending Trump during his impeachment by the House and in his Senate trial, and described Democratic lawmakers’ efforts to remove him from office as an “attack” on Americans.
“Since his first day in office, President Trump has fought tirelessly to deliver results for all Americans, despite the Democrats’ baseless and illegal impeachment sham and the media’s endless obsession with it,” she said in her convention address.
A member of the House Intelligence Committee, Stefanik drew praise from conservatives for her forceful support of the president throughout hours of impeachment hearings.
Trump also took notice, tapping Stefanik to become one of only eight House Republicans to join his defense team for his trial in the Senate.
“I was proud to lead the effort standing up for the Constitution, President Trump and, most importantly, the American people,” Stefanik said Wednesday. “This attack was not just on the President, it was an attack on you — your voice and your vote.”
Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng says Trump can take on China
Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng praised Trump for challenging the Chinese Communist Party, which he described as an oppressive regime.
Chen was prosecuted by the Chinese government after speaking out about human rights injustices, including the “one child” policy. He sought shelter in the American embassy in Beijing in 2012 and has remained an outspoken critic of CCP ever since.
“The Chinese Communist Party is an enemy of humanity,” he said. “It is terrorizing its own people and it is threatening the well-being of the world.”
Global leaders need to take on China’s atrocities, Chen said, adding that he believes Trump is the man for the job.
“The U.S. must use its values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, to gather a coalition of other democracies to stop China’s aggression,” Chen said. “President Trump has led on this, and we need the other countries to join him in this fight. A fight for our future.”
Controversial N.C. House candidate shares story of overcoming ‘adversity’
Madison Cawthorn, the controversial 25-year-old running to represent North Carolina’s 11th congressional district, shared his personal story about adversity, describing how he overcame a horrific car accident at age 18 that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“At 20, I thought about giving up. However, I knew I could still make a difference,” Cawthorn said in a speech designed to appeal to young voters. “At 20, I made a choice. In 2020, our country has a choice. We can give up on the American idea, or we can work together to make our imperfect union more perfect.”
During his remarks, the rising Republican star warned against forces that “want to usher in the digital dark ages — a time of information without wisdom and tribalism without truth,” and accused Democrats of normalizing “demagoguery and a radicalized identity politics that rejects MLK’s dream.”
He called on liberals to “have a conversation,” and conservatives to “define what we support, and win the argument.”
He urged Americans “young and old” to “be a radical for freedom.” In the final moments of his speech, he used a walker to stand up tall.
If elected to the congressional seat previously held by now-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Cawthorn would be the youngest member of Congress. Trump called him a political star earlier this week.
However, Cawthorn has sparked controversy in recent weeks after an evangelical magazine reported that two women from a Christian home-schooling group accused the candidate of aggressive sexual behavior when they were teenagers. Cawthorn’s campaign did not deny him making advances on the women, but said he has since apologized if his behavior made them feel uncomfortable and denied ever being forceful with them.
Lara Trump on her father-in-law: He is a ‘good man’
Lara Trump, the wife of President Donald Trump’s son, Eric, offered among the most personal character testimonials during the convention so far, praising her father-in-law as someone who believed in her.
“Any preconceived notion I had of this family disappeared immediately,” she said of the first time she met the Trump family. “They were warm and caring, they were hard workers, and they were down to earth. They reminded me of my own family — they made me feel like I was home.”
Lara Trump, who is now a senior adviser on the president’s re-election campaign, also described her experience in 2016 when Trump asked her to join the campaign.
“Though I had no political experience, he believed in me and supported me,” she said. “He knew I was capable even if I didn't.”
Trump portrayed her father-in-law as a champion of women, touting the women he has installed as Cabinet members and other senior government officials in his administration.
Trump urged undecided voters to “tune out the distorted news and biased commentary and hear it straight from someone who knows.” She said her father-in-law is “a good man” who “loves his family,” is “willing to fight for his beliefs” and is “a person of conviction.”
Grenell claims he watched Trump ‘charm’ Germany’s Merkel
Richard Grenell, the former acting director of National Intelligence and ambassador to Germany, claimed he watched President Donald Trump “charm” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite the commander-in-chief’s famously chilly relationship with his counterpart in Berlin.
“I’ve watched President Trump charm the Chancellor of Germany, while insisting that Germany pay its NATO obligations,” Grenell said during a speech Wednesday at the Republican National Convention.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Berlin for not meeting its defense spending commitment to NATO, and recently ordered the Pentagon to withdraw thousands of troops from Germany. Merkel’s apparent disdain for Trump, meanwhile, has been well-documented, with the chancellor recently rebuffing the U.S. president’s invitation to the G-7 summit in Washington.
‘Nation of miracles’: Pence pledges coronavirus vaccine by year’s end
Pence called the United States a “nation of miracles” and claimed Americans would see the development of a successful coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year.
In his headliner address, Pence hailed the Trump administration’s management of the pandemic and repeatedly sought to cast Biden as a pessimist who could not realize the country’s potential.
“Last week, Joe Biden said that no miracle is coming,” Pence told supporters in his speech at the historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
“Well, what Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles,” he said. “And I’m proud to report that we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.”
Pence’s timeline comes as Trump continues to push the Food and Drug Administration to hasten its approval of a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the November election — a pressure campaign which public health experts warn could have dangerous consequences.
But Pence, who has overseen the federal government’s coronavirus response, appeared intent Wednesday on emphasizing only the positive when it came to the pandemic.
“After all the sacrifice in this year like no other, all the hardship, we’re finding our way forward again,” he said.