In a program that seemed thematically focused on the call to fulfill one’s duty, Vice President Mike Pence‘s keynote speech did precisely that.
“People that have sacrificed time and time again for our freedom and the freedom of others … as if the whole struggle was theirs alone, as if any weakness on their part would be a reflection of the whole nation—that’s called duty,” said Crenshaw, a wounded combat veteran who paid tribute to front-line heroes of all kinds in his speech.
Pence capped off the evening’s celebration of heroism, fittingly, at at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, the birthplace of America’s national anthem, which itself has now become a symbol under attack like many others.
With an audience full of Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipients, a Gold Star mother and other wounded warriors, the setting itself offered a stark contrast with the almost profane, soulless rendering of the “Star Spangled Banner” performed remotely via telecast by The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks) during last week’s DNC.
It likewise seemed a shot across the bow for the athletes, led by America-bashing former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others, who have relentlessly sought to bring controversial anthem-kneeling protests into the mainstream. He defended police that have been targets of those athletes’ demonstrations, following high-profile incidents in shootings of black suspects who resisted arrest, like George Floyd and Jacob Blake.
Pence argued that Democratic leaders are allowing lawlessness to prevail from coast to coast. He and others described cities wracked by violence.
“The American people know we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with African American neighbors to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns,” he said.
He assailed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for saying there is an “implicit bias” against people of color and “systemic racism” in the U.S.
“The hard truth is … you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence said. “Let me be clear: The violence must stop — whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha.”
Pence’s biggest job was to recast the Trump administration in a different light from that which the radical Left and its media allies have portrayed as dangerous, unstable and autocratic—as well as an “existential” threat to the nation.
“I’ve seen him when the cameras are off,” said the vice president.
“Americans see President Trump in lots of different ways, but there’s no doubt how President Trump sees America,” he continued. “… If you want a president who falls silent when our heritage is demeaned or insulted, he’s not your man.”
Tasked with showing the empathy, faith and traditional-conservative roots of the Republican Party—qualities that President Donald Trump has frequently been targeted for—Pence’s roughly 35 minute speech did all that and more.
He offered a lightly self-deprecative nod to the reality-TV-like drama that his boss brought to the office, in contrast with his own mild-mannered, grounded approach to governing.
“We came by very different routes to this partnership—and some people think we’re a bit different—but I’ve learned a few things watching him,” Pence said.
“Not much gets past him, and when he has an opinion he’s liable to share it,” he joked. “He’s certainly kept things interesting, but more importantly, President Trump has kept his word to the American people. In a city known for talkers, President Trump is a doer.”
Pence also reiterated some of the administration’s key achievements, took some of the toughest swipes yet at the convention against the rival Biden campaign and instilled a message of national unity.
Pence shredded the Biden record, particularly on international policy, noting that his predecessor as vice president had even opposed the mission that took out Osama bin Laden.
Quoting a former Obama administration official, Pence said, “Joe Biden has been wrong on every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
He further hammered at Biden’s cynicism in projecting a fearful vision of darkness during his acceptance speech at last week’s Democratic convention.
Reluctant both to celebrate American heroism and condemn the recent riots that have devastated many of its great cities, Biden threw a wet blanket on hopes of an impending recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Last week Joe Biden said that no miracle is coming,” recalled Pence, known for his deep faith and piety. “What Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles.”
Pence, meanwhile, sought to restore hope—in the face of deep lingering doubts—that America’s prized sense of identity and greatness, like its flag during the siege on Baltimore harbor that inspired the “Star Spangled Banner,” would persevere.
“We’re going through a time of testing, but if you look through the fog of these challenging times, you will see our flag is still there today,” he said. “That Star Spangled Banner still waves over the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.