US first lady Melania Trump offered her sympathies to those affected by coronavirus and sought to portray her husband as an uncompromising leader on the second night of the scaled-down Republican National Convention.
While others at the Republican National Convention spoke about the coronavirus as a challenge successfully conquered, Mrs Trump used her address from the Rose Garden to acknowledge the pain of lives lost and families upended by the pandemic.
“I want you to know you’re not alone,” she said to the tens of thousands of families that have been affected. More than 177,000 Americans have been killed by Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“My husband’s administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective treatment or vaccine available to everyone,” she said, speaking to an audience that included the president, vice president and his wife, and her parents.
“Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic,” she added in remarks that were softer in tone than many who spoke before her.
Showing a more forgiving side with millions of voters watching, the president pardoned a reformed felon and oversaw a naturalisation ceremony for several immigrants in the midst of the program.
Mr Trump showed a video of himself signing a pardon for Jon Ponder, a man from Nevada who has founded an organisation that helps prisoners reintegrate into society.
“We live in a nation of second chances,” Mr Ponder said, standing alongside Trump.
Before signing the pardon, Mr Trump aid: “Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”
Others to speak on the night included Mr Trump’s children Eric and Tiffany, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the convention from an official overseas trip in Israel.
“The President has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world…The President has held China accountable for covering up the China Virus and allowing it to spread death and economic destruction in America.”—@mikepompeo#RNC2020 pic.twitter.com/6XkWel2dLj— GOP (@GOP) August 26, 2020
Mr Pompeo said: “President Trump has put his America First vision into action. It may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it’s worked.”
The taped appearance broke with decades of tradition of secretaries of state avoiding the appearance of involving themselves in domestic politics. That his video was filmed in Jerusalem, where he was on an official foreign trip, has raised additional questions of propriety.
With Election Day just 10 weeks off and early voting beginning much sooner, Mr Trump is under increasing pressure to reshape the contours of the campaign.
But as he struggles to contain the pandemic and the related economic devastation, Republicans have yet to identify a consistent political message arguing for his re-election.