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Nikki Haley Takes Center Stage in the First Night of the RNC

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention. (Photo: RNC)

CHARLOTTE – On August 24th, 2020, the Republican National Committee held its first national convention online. The convention was around 150 minutes and showcased several prominent Republican figures. Three notable speakers of the convention were Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott, and the President’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. 

The convention highlighted the accomplishments of the Trump Presidency and envisioned a dystopia under the Biden Presidency. They began by addressing the most notable attack from the DNC: Trump’s handling of the global pandemic. They began the convention with videos and edited montages of democratic governors saying Trump handled the pandemic well. 

For example, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was quoted from his daily briefings, “What the federal government did was a phenomenal accomplishment.”

Furthermore, California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “We have the USNS Mercy in California because of [Trump’s] direct intervention and support, 2,000 of these federal medical stations because of his direct support.”

The convention went on to address other issues like the ongoing riots across the nation, race relations, and principles from the Constitution. They went on to focus on general foreign policy like US-China relations and releasing prisoners from other countries. The RNC also attempted a broad appeal to veterans, current soldiers, and law enforcement. In my opinon, they did a better job in appealing to military personnel and law enforcement than the DNC.

One of the best speakers of the night was Senator Time Scott. He is the first African-American to be elected to both the United States Senate and House of Representatives. He is currently the only Black GOP Senator and was a speaker during the RNC prime time.

The Senator began his speech by addressing the hardships he faced when he was growing up, “My parents divorced when I was 7 years old. We lived in a two bedroom house with my grandparents…me, my mom and my brother sharing a room and a bed. My mom worked 16 hours a day to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads.”

He went on to talk about his education and small business. At the end of his life’s story, he said, “You may be asking yourself how does a poor black kid…from a single parent household…run and win a race in a crowded Republican primary against a Thurmond?”

The Senator spoke about how America has evolved their view on race and provided a stark contrast to the Democratic narrative of systematic racism.

“Because of the evolution of the heart, in an overwhelmingly white district… the voters judged me on the content of my character, not the color of my skin. We live in a world that only wants you to believe in the bad news… racially, economically and culturally-polarizing news” said Mr. Scott. “The truth is, our nation’s arc always bends back towards fairness. We are not fully where we want to be…but thank God we are not where we used to be!”

He also juxtaposed Biden and Trump’s record on race; Trump enforced criminal justice reform and gave historic funding to HBCUs while Biden signed the 1994 crime bill and blamed Black colleges for lack of education among young people.

While Senator Scott was effective in telling his story and arguing a difference between the two presidential candidates, the best speaker of the night was Former Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Haley opened her speech with an attack on Joe Biden by citing a similar situation of a UN Ambassador advocating for the reelection of a Republican President and attacking a VP of a failed administration. She then went on to talk about foreign policy and the Obama Administration’s weak position on Iran, ISIS, and China.

Haley condemned the former Administration’s foreign policy by saying, “The former Vice President has a record of weakness and failure. Joe Biden is good for Iran and ISIS… great for Communist China… and he’s a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologize, abstain, and abandon our values.”

She then contrasted that with Trump’s tough policy on China through the trade wars, on Iran though the killing of General Soleimani, and on ISIS through the killing of their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. She went to attack Biden on economic policy by saying, “Joe Biden and the socialist left would be a disaster for our economy.”

She then transitioned into the topic of race with the line, “In much of the Democratic Party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country.”

Through this, she talked about how she was the daughter of Indian Immigrants, which lead to discrimination and hardship.

She spoke of her story as a minority in an America, “My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world. We faced discrimination and hardship. But my parents never gave in to grievance and hate. My mom built a successful business. My dad taught 30 years at a historically black college. And the people of South Carolina chose me as their first minority and first female governor.”

Like Scott, Haley brought up the idea that while America’s current situation is not ideal, but constantly “striving to reach a brighter future.”

Nikki Haley delivered the best speech of the night because it focused on a future and vision of unity and prosperity rather than just solely bashing the opposition. This differing approach may capture the attention of voters who are tired of hearing partisan speeches.

One of the best moments of the convention was when she talked about an optimistic view of the nation, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America.”

It seemed inspiring to see a minority woman, who faced genuine adversity, and gained actual political experience, talk about a greater America. This was a perfect contrast to the negative perspective of America some Democrats focused on in their convention speeches.

Overall, I would argue this convention was mediocre in delivery and appeal. While I did focus on the two of the best speeches, some speeches and moments, like Kimberly Guilfoyle’s speech, brought talking points for Democrats. However, the convention did highlight an alternative and positive perspective to the Democrat’s view of America, which may have appealed to some voters.

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