GOP leaders promote Trump as a wartime commander focused on security and peace

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Speakers at Tuesday’s Republican convention touted President Donald Trump as a commander in chief committed to ensuring national security, but also focused on peace instead of “endless wars” overseas.

“President Trump is the first president in a generation to seek to end war, rather than start one,” said Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. “He intends to end the war in Afghanistan, he is bringing our men and women home.

“If you hate war like I hate war, if you want us to quit sending $50 billion every year to Afghanistan to build their roads and bridges, instead of building them here at home, you need to support President Trump for another term.”

The second day of the convention — forced into a television and online presentation by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — was themed “Land of Opportunity,” but featured a strong national security thread from party leaders.

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez called Trump “a commander in chief with a bold agenda” who has helped strengthen “our heroes in uniform” through his strong support for the military.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who received significant criticism ahead of his remarks, delivered a speech during an official visit to Israel, one which State Department officials insisted did not violate rules restricting federal employee participation in certain political activities

Unlike his predecessors, who turned down speaking invitations at the conventions, Pompeo used his appearance Tuesday night to praise Trump for balancing America’s strong military might with a goal of “securing the peace” worldwide.

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“Today, because of the president’s determination and leadership, the ISIS caliphate is wiped out. It’s gone,” he said. “Its evil leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. And our brave soldiers, they’re on their way home.”

He touted Trump’s tough talk on Iran, China and Russia (all three of which have drawn criticism for being less effective than the president has insisted) but also for his diplomatic touch with North Korea, and unprecedented negotiations with that country’s leader, Kim Jong-Un.

“The securing of peace is the first requisite, indeed, the primary constitutional function of the national government,” Pompeo said. “It’s ensuring that your family, and mine, are safe and enjoy the freedom to live, to work, to learn and worship as they choose … This president has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world.”

Democratic leaders offered their own criticism of Trump as commander in chief at their convention last week, blasting him as an erratic and unstable leader and promoting former Vice President Joe Biden as a much-needed response to Trump’s failings.

Wednesday night’s Republican convention agenda — themed “Land of Heroes” — is expected to touch military and national security themes again, with Vice President Mike Pence scheduled to deliver remarks from Fort McHenry in Maryland and veterans Sen. Joni Ersnt, R-Iowa, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, among the featured speakers.

About

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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