First lady Melania Trump will make the case for U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election on the second night of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will break with the norms that discourage partisan political activity by the nation’s top diplomat.
Republicans nominated Trump for a second term in the White House on Monday, the opening day of the convention, painting a dire portrait of America if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the Nov. 3 election.
Democrats on Tuesday criticized the tone of the Republican convention, which included a sharp warning from Trump campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle that Democrats want to “destroy this country.”
“Last night was grim and spiteful and fear-inducing,” Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer told reporters in a call.
Whitmer said the White House was to blame for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 177,000 Americans – more than any other country in the world – and thrown millions out of work.
Potentially playing into the dark picture Republicans have painted, parts of Kenosha, Wisconsin, were smoldering after another night of unrest sparked by the shooting of a Black man by police. The man, who remains in intensive care, was shot in the back.
On Tuesday, Melania Trump will cap the program with a speech from the White House’s Rose Garden, and Pompeo, believed to be eyeing a run for the presidency in 2024, will speak from Israel while on a diplomatic trip to the Middle East.
Both appearances have drawn criticism from Democrats, who question whether the use of the White House – the Republican president will give his speech accepting his party’s nomination on the South Lawn on Thursday – may lead to violations of the 1939 Hatch Act, which restricts federal employees from engaging in certain political activities.
Pompeo plans to speak from Jerusalem even though he warned diplomats in July that presidential appointees should not take part in partisan activity, according to an unclassified cable reviewed by us and sent to all U.S. diplomatic and consular posts abroad.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said Pompeo’s decision to give a political speech during an overseas mission is a “blatant use of office for overtly political purposes” that undermines the critical work being done by the State Department.
“Secretary Pompeo’s decision to serve as an errand boy for the president’s reelection on a taxpayer-funded diplomatic mission, and his decision to use one of our closest partners as a political prop in the process, is absolutely disgraceful,” Bedingfield told us.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier on Monday, a State Department official told the pool reporter traveling with Pompeo on behalf of the U.S. media that Pompeo would speak to the convention in his personal capacity.
The Trump campaign has shrugged off complaints about the use of federal properties like the White House as a partisan stage and said it would ensure all staff and participants will be in compliance with the Hatch Act. The president and vice president are excluded under the law, although there could be implications for staff depending on their level of involvement.
The speech by Melania Trump, who has largely shunned the spotlight and kept a low profile for a first lady, is likely to offer an upbeat, warmer view of a president who was repeatedly portrayed at last week’s Democratic convention as a force for chaos and darkness. Her husband is expected to join her.
She will also be looking to avoid the mistakes of the 2016 Republican convention, when her address included lines that were similar to those spoken by Michelle Obama, her predecessor as first lady, in an address to the 2008 Democratic convention.
Biden, 77, leads Trump, 74, in opinion polls, and Democrats tried to make the case at their convention that the Democratic former vice president would bring the steady and calm leadership needed to deal with the pandemic and its economic fallout.
Also speaking on Tuesday are Trump’s son, Eric, and daughter, Tiffany, as well as public officials such as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and U.S. Senator Rand Paul.
A parade of Americans will speak in defense of Trump’s policies, including anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, Maine lobsterman Jason Joyce and Mary Ann Mendoza, whose son was killed by an illegal immigrant in a head-on car collision.