By IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News
(BALTIMORE) — Vice President Mike Pence closed out the third night of the Republican National Convention with a speech that labeled his predecessor Joe Biden as “a Trojan horse for a radical left,” as he made his case for re-electing President Donald Trump.
Pence spoke at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the site of a battle during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and was joined by Trump as well as VIP guests including Medal of Honor recipients, frontline workers, military veterans, firefighters and police officers.
At the top of his remarks, Pence spoke about Hurricane Laura, which was set to strike the Gulf Coast as a category 4 storm as of Wednesday night.
“This is a serious storm. We urge all those in the affected areas to heed state and local authorities,” he said.
Pence was the first speaker of the week to acknowledge the civil unrest taking place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was shot in the back by officers in an incident caught on cellphone video. A teenager was also arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree homicide in connection with the fatal shooting of two protesters Tuesday night.
Pence, who did not mention Blake, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd or the other Black Americans’ names whose deaths this year have sparked protests, referenced the demonstrations in Kenosha, Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon for his case on the president’s “law and order” mandate.
“Too many heroes have died defending our freedoms to see Americans strike each other down,” he said.
Crime was one of the areas where Pence attacked Biden during the speech and claimed that under a Democratic administration, the former vice president “would set America on a path of socialism and decline.”
Although Biden has repeatedly said he does not want to defund the police, including during an interview with ABC News Friday, Pence argued in his speech that that is what Biden wants to do.
“Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to unsafe streets and violence in America’s cities,” Pence said.
The vice president claimed Biden would enact “far left ideas” and cited Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement.
“They believe the federal government needs to dictate how Americans live, how we should work, how we should raise our children,” Pence said.
The vice president touted Trump’s response to the coronavirus, which has infected 5.8 million Americans and killed over 179,000 people in the country as of Wednesday night. Trump publicly downplayed the virus earlier year, and led a federal response panned by health experts and leaders, including Biden, for its slow reaction to the outbreak and lack of centralized coordination.
The president himself has downplayed public health guidance, pushed the country to reopen against the guidance issued by his administration, and endorsed unproven therapies and treatments — raising concerns from some public health experts that he will pressure regulators to approve a vaccine ahead of the election before it has demonstrated its efficacy.
When Pence was announced as the chair of the White House’s coronavirus task force in February he told reporters “the threat to the American public remains low.” He also followed the president’s lead and did not wear a face covering to events, including a trip to the Mayo Clinic in April and a Florida restaurant in May while pushing for more states to reopen their economies.
He took shots at Biden’s remarks that “no miracle was coming” to save the American people from the virus.
“Well, what Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles,” Pence said to the crowd of people at Fort McHenry, which had many maskless people.
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