Melania Trump argues for president’s re-election

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Melania Trump speaks from the White House Rose GardenImage copyright

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Melania Trump speaks from the White House Rose Garden

The normally limelight-shunning US First Lady Melania Trump has taken centre stage at the Republican convention as she makes the case for her husband’s underdog re-election bid.

The party conference’s second night also heard from the president’s children Eric and Tiffany Trump.

President Donald Trump will address the convention’s final night on Thursday.

He currently trails his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in opinion polls ahead of November’s election.

A total of 17 million people watched the Republican convention’s first night on Monday, according to Nielsen.

Some 19.7 million TV viewers tuned in to the first night of the Democratic National Convention last week.

What did Melania Trump say?

The US first lady delivered Tuesday evening’s keynote address before a small audience at the White House.

Her decision to speak from the seat of presidential power has angered Democrats, who say the chosen venue is an inappropriate use of government resources.

“Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country,” she said, as Mr Trump and officials watched from the audience. “It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history. I encourage you to focus on the future while still learning from the past.”

In a message to racial justice protesters, she added: “I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals.

“I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice, and never make assumptions based on the colour of a person’s skin.”

Tuesday’s convention schedule began with a prayer for Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old black man who was shot multiple times in the back by police in Wisconsin on Sunday. The prayer on Tuesday, which was also offered up for police officers, came as unrest following the shooting continues in the Midwestern state.

During Tuesday’s convention, Mr Trump tweeted a call for the Wisconsin governor to call in the National Guard, which he has already done.

Over the weekend, Mrs Trump unveiled renovations to the White House Rose Garden, which included the relocation of about a dozen crabapple trees that were planted by former First Lady Jackie Kennedy.

On social media, some wrongly claimed historic rose bushes and trees had been removed, with a former New York Times reporter angrily denouncing the Slovenian born first lady as a “foreigner”.

The Trump administration says the three-week project was paid for by private donors and have not disclosed the total cost.

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What did Trump children say?

Eric Trump railed against “radical Democrats” – a theme of the convention so far.

“They want to disrespect our National Anthem by taking a knee,” he said, “while our armed forces lay down their lives every day to protect our freedom.”

He added: “The Democrats want to defund, destroy, and disrespect our law enforcement.”

Tiffany Trump, Mr Trump’s daughter with his second wife Marla Maples, accused the media of manipulating Americans.

“This misinformation system keeps people mentally enslaved to the ideas they deem correct,” she said. “This has fostered unnecessary fear and divisiveness amongst us.”

Who else spoke on Tuesday?

Tuesday’s programme is designed around the theme of “Land of Opportunity”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a pre-recorded speech from Israel, upsetting critics who call it unethical. Normally, the nation’s top diplomat does not attend political conventions.

“President Trump has put his America First vision into action. It may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it has worked,” said Mr Pompeo, a former Republican senator.

He also credited Mr Trump with cooling tensions with North Korea, eradicating the Islamic State terror group and holding “China accountable for covering up the China virus”.

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Media caption‘I would crawl through broken glass to vote for Trump in this election’

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul praised Mr Trump for being an opponent of “endless wars” and claimed Democrats were likely to start wars if they won the White House.

“To those of you who want to stand up and fight the socialists poisoning our schools and burning our cities, join me in supporting President Trump,” Mr Paul continued.

Speakers also included a former Planned Parenthood employee who became an anti-abortion activist, and a Kentucky schoolboy whose tense interaction last year with a Native American man went viral.

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Former bank robber Jon Ponder, left, was pardoned in a video shown to the convention

Moments before a woman whose police officer son was killed by an illegal immigrant was due to take the stage, organisers announced she had been pulled from the line-up.

The decision to withdraw Mary Ann Mendoza came hours after she apologised for retweeting an anti-Semitic online screed earlier on Tuesday.

Where’s President Trump?

Though he is not scheduled to deliver his keynote address to the convention until its final night, Mr Trump played a major role in Tuesday’s schedule, just as he did on the opening day.

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Media captionDonald Trump: “This is the greatest scam in the history of politics”

Hours before the event began, the president pardoned a bank robber, Jon Ponder, a black man who founded a charity that helps convicts reintegrate into society.

“My hope for America,” Mr Ponder said in a pre-recorded video, “is that all people regardless of race, colour, class or background will take advantage of the fact that we live in a nation of second chances.”

The opening minutes of the convention featured Mr Trump at the White House flanked by Mr Ponder and the FBI agent who arrested him, only to strike up an unlikely friendship with the reformed felon.

The film showed Mr Trump signing Mr Ponder’s pardon.

In another surprise moment of the night, Mr Trump appeared live from the White House to preside over a naturalisation ceremony for new US immigrants.

Critics said the segment was hypocritical – Mr Trump has taken steps during his presidency to restrict legal immigration, as well as cracking down on illegal immigration.

How have Democrats reacted?

Democrats on Tuesday criticised Republican attempts during Monday night’s convention to argue that the president has done a good job handling the coronavirus outbreak.

The Democrats said Mr Trump was to blame for Covid-19 killing more than 177,000 Americans – more than any other country in the world.

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Media captionJoe Biden: Will it be third time lucky in 2020?

Former US Vice-President Al Gore, a Democrat, said Mr Trump was trying to “put his knee on the neck of democracy” by criticising mail-in ballots and questioning the election’s integrity.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who lost to Mr Trump in 2016, said that if Mr Biden is trailing in the vote tally on election night, he should not concede defeat because uncounted postal ballots may decide the contest.

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