Speakers such as Donald Trump Jr. and former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle painted a bleak picture of the U.S. with Trump as its only saviour

On the opening day of the Republican National Convention, the party painted a bleak picture of the U.S., describing it as a country teetering on the brink of riots and communism, capable only of salvation through President Donald Trump.
In contrast to its Democratic counterpart last week, which intercut speeches from hundreds of locations across the country with prepackaged segments and musical performances, most of the RNCs first night consisted of speakers appearing one by one from the same ornate, empty auditorium in Washington, DC, interspersed with a handful of campaign ads.
And unlike the Democratic National Convention, which tried to pull together a broad and sometimes contradictory ideological coalition, the RNC mostly bet on motivating the base with a non-stop dose of hard-right rhetoric.
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Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization, student group leader Charlie Kirk said in the nights first speech, setting the events nationalistic tone.
Here are five key themes and highlights from the first night of the RNC.
In this image from video, Mark and Patricia McCloskey speak from St. Louis, during the first night of the Republican National Convention Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.
The Associated Press
The anxieties of wealthy, white America
Mark and Patty McCloskey, the St. Louis lawyers who face criminal charges for pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their white marble mansion in June, called on Americans to vote for Mr. Trump to stop the wave of anti-racism demonstrations sweeping the country.
Mr. McCloskey described the protesters as an out-of-control mob. Ms. McCloskey claimed that demonstrators aimed to abolish the suburbs and bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into affluent residential communities.
The evening was replete with such language Mr. Kirk described a vengeful mob that wishes to destroy our way or life, while Donald Trump Jr., the Presidents son, said the Democrats were bringing rioting, looting and vandalism to the country and a repeated message that only Mr. Trump can stop it.
In this screenshot from the RNCs livestream of the 2020 Republican National Convention, U.S. President Donald Trump (L) speaks with freed hostages (L-R) Joshua and Tamara Holt and Pastor Bryan Nerran in a pre-recorded video broadcasted addresses the virtual convention on August 24, 2020.
Handout/Getty Images
The not-so-physically-distanced meetings
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Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, tried to showcase his empathy last week with a series of panel discussions on emotionally-charged topics. True to the pandemic era, Mr. Biden sat alone surrounded by a Stonehenge-like arrangement of televisions on which the panelists appeared.
Mr. Trump tried something similar Monday, but dispensed with the COVID-19 precautions. In two discussions, Mr. Trump met in person with several panelists at the White House; no one in the groups wore masks or stayed six feet apart.
In the first of the meetings, with people on the front lines of the pandemic, Mr. Trump touted a series of unproven and potentially dangerous treatments for the illness. The President has been criticized for downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19 and leaving individual states to fend for themselves. But his guests repeatedly praised his leadership, while he referred to the illness as the China virus.
In the second panel, with Americans formerly held hostage abroad, the President praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a pastor held for two years in one of the Turkish autocrats prisons.
I have to say that, to me, President Erdogan was very good, Mr. Trump said.
In this screenshot from the RNCs livestream of the 2020 Republican National Convention, Maximo Alvarez, founder of Sunshine Gasoline, addresses the virtual convention on August 24, 2020.
Handout/Getty Images
Did we mention the socialism?
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Second only to tying the Democrats to rioters was an effort to depict them as Marxists, socialists and radical.
One pre-recorded segment claimed that leftists have already taken over Joe Biden. Chicago businesswoman Madeline Lauf warned that Democrats are attacking American capitalism, over video footage of Pete Buttigieg, a former McKinsey consultant and one-time Democratic presidential candidate. And Maximo Alvarez, a Cuban-American who fled Fidel Castros regime, compared Mr. Biden with the late communist dictator.
I have seen people like this before, he said. We cannot let them take over our country.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, the National Chair of the “Trump Victory Finance Committee” and girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., delivers a pre-recorded speech to the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention from Washington, U.S., August 24, 2020.
In case you missed the shouting
With Mr. Trumps first-night appearances confined to his relatively subdued panel discussions, it was up to Kimberly Guilfoyle to bring the decibels.
In a speech so loud it often seemed to reverberate through the auditorium, the Fox News host-turned Trump campaign official shouted as she waved her hands in the air.
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Do you support the cancel culture? she said. Do you think America is to blame?
Ms. Guilfoyle also singled out California blaming Democrats for turning the state into a land of discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets and blackouts in homes. The states governor, Gavin Newsom, is her ex-husband.
Donald Trump Jr., speaks as he tapes his speech for the first day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.
Susan Walsh/The Associated Press
CanCon klaxon
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his deputy, Chrystia Freeland, made a brief appearance early in the night. A segment highlighting Mr. Trumps accomplishments included a clip of the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that replaced the North American free-trade agreement this year.
Later in the evening, Mr. Trump Jr. returned to the theme in an attack on Mr. Bidens history of backing free trade agreements.
He supported the worst trade deals in the history of the planet, the younger Mr. Trump said. He voted for the NAFTA nightmare. Down the tubes went our auto industry. He pushed for TPP. Goodbye manufacturing jobs.
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What Mr. Trump Jr. did not mention is that the USMCA is mostly identical to NAFTA, with some elements of TPP added in.
The convention continues for the next three nights, with Mr. Trump formally accepting re-nomination on Thursday.
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