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US Vice-President Mike Pence has warned that violence will spread in American cities if Joe Biden wins the White House in November.
“The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” said President Donald Trump’s deputy in a keynote speech to the Republican convention.
Mr Pence depicted the vote as a choice between law-and-order and lawlessness.
He spoke amid nightly protests over the police shooting of a black man in Wisconsin on Sunday.
“The American people know we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with African-American neighbours to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns,” said Mr Pence.
He blasted Mr Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, for saying there is an “implicit bias” against minorities and “systemic racism” in the US.
Mr Pence said: “Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to unsafe streets and violence in America’s cities.”
The third night of the Republican convention adopted a theme of “Land of Heroes”, and the vice-president spoke from Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, where the city was defended against the British in the War of 1812, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the US national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.
For three and a half years, Mike Pence has been Donald Trump’s most loyal sidekick – extolling his virtues and executing his directives.
On Wednesday night, Pence’s mission was to pitch for the president’s re-election by touting his accomplishments and trying to reframe his sometimes sharp edges as an asset, not a shortcoming.
Mr Pence, like many of the Republicans this week, had to perform a delicate dance – talking up the president’s record, and then explaining the turmoil that has hit the nation in the past six months.
In a line that some will find patriotic and others will view as a racially tinged dog-whistle, he said: “The choice in this election is whether America remains America.”
The Democrats and the Republicans over the past two weeks have shared decidedly different views of what is right – and wrong – with America today. In 69 days, voters will have a chance to register their opinion, as well.
Hours before Mr Pence began speaking the National Basketball Association, Women’s National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer postponed games after some players refused to take part in protest over the Kenosha shooting.
Mr Pence’s remarks came after three people were shot, two fatally, during a third night of unrest on Tuesday over the police shooting three days earlier in Kenosha, Wisconsin, of Jacob Blake, 29.
The vice-president did not refer to the incident, which has inflamed protests against police brutality that have erupted across the nation over the past three months.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Trump said he would send federal law enforcement to Kenosha by agreement with the state’s governor.
The US Department of Justice said a federal civil rights investigation had been opened into the shooting of Mr Blake.
Mr Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, said earlier on Wednesday they had spoken to Mr Blake’s family.
Mr Blake, who was shot multiple times in the back from close range, is currently paralysed from the waist down.
Mr Biden said in a video posted by his campaign: “Put yourself in the shoes of every black father and black mother in this country, and ask: Is this what we want America to be? Is this the country we should be?”
The Democrat added: “Protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary, but burning down communities is not protest. It’s needless violence.”
Hammering home a recurring theme of the Republican convention, Mr Pence depicted Mr Biden, known as a political moderate over a decades-long career in Washington, as “nothing more than a Trojan horse for a radical left”.
The vice-president argued that the Democrat would “set America on a path of socialism and decline”.
The Democrats, too, at their convention last week warned in doom-laden tones what would happen if Mr Trump won another four years in the White House.
Mr Pence has endured recent speculation that he might be dumped by Mr Trump from the Republican ticket in favour of some other running mate. But his position looked impregnable as he accepted his vice-presidential nomination on Wednesday night with glowing praise of his boss.
In 2016, Mr Pence – a former Indiana governor and conservative Christian – was Mr Trump’s political bridge to evangelical voters, a vital bloc with the Republican electoral base.
Wednesday night’s law-and-order message at the Republican convention was reinforced by other speakers, including South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
She said: “From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs.
“People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t – good, hard-working Americans – are left to fend for themselves.”
Burgess Owens, an African-American former NFL player now running for Congress in Utah, said: “This November, we stand at a crossroads.
“Mobs torch our cities while popular members of Congress promote the same socialism that my father fought against in World War II.”
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