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Trump Feted by Former Rivals at RNC    07/17 06:16

   Donald Trump was celebrated Tuesday at the Republican National Convention by 
former rivals who just months ago leveled harsh critiques about him, a show of 
unity that contrasts with the divisions increasingly ripping through the 
Democratic Party.

   MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Donald Trump was celebrated Tuesday at the Republican 
National Convention by former rivals who just months ago leveled harsh 
critiques about him, a show of unity that contrasts with the divisions 
increasingly ripping through the Democratic Party.

   Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador who was Trump's final challenger in 
the GOP primary, directly addressed her supporters after taking the stage to a 
mix of cheers and boos.

   "My message to them is simple: You don't have to agree with Trump 100% of 
the time to vote for him," Haley said.

   She was followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a onetime Trump ally turned 
primary rival who has worked to rebuild his relationship with the former 
president since dropping out of the primary.

   "Donald Trump has been demonized. He's been sued. He's been prosecuted. And 
he nearly lost his life," DeSantis told the crowd. "We cannot let him down. And 
we cannot let America down."

   Such overtures are typical in political conventions, where the purpose is 
often to bring a party together after bitter primaries. But the Haley and 
DeSantis appearances were particularly notable given the personal animosity 
that defined this year's GOP contest -- much of that being directed by Trump at 
Haley and DeSantis.

   The displays of unity stood in stark contrast to the dynamic facing 
Democrats, many of whom are increasingly uncertain that President Joe Biden is 
the right choice to take on Trump in the November election.

   DeSantis was once seen as best positioned to challenge Trump's position at 
the top of the party. As a presidential candidate, he was slow to criticize 
Trump directly before eventually accusing him of repeatedly failing to follow 
through on his promises.

   Haley, meanwhile, painted Trump as chaotic and suggested the 78-year-old was 
too old to serve another term. Unlike DeSantis, she did not immediately endorse 
Trump after she dropped out, instead waiting a few months to announce he had 
her vote.

   Biden's campaign resurrected Haley's criticisms Tuesday. Austin Weatherford, 
a spokesperson for the campaign, said in a statement, "Ambassador Haley said it 
best herself: someone who doesn't respect our military, doesn't know right from 
wrong, and 'surrounds himself in chaos' can't be president."

   Immigration was a key theme on Tuesday

   Several speakers spotlighted immigration, a key element of former Trump 's 
political brand that helped endear him to the GOP base when he began his first 
campaign in 2015.

   Trump has criticized the unprecedented number of migrants entering the 
country illegally through the U.S. border with Mexico. The numbers of 
unauthorized crossings have fallen abruptly after Biden issued a rule 
suspending many asylum claims at the border.

   At rallies and other campaign events, Trump has pointed to examples of 
migrants who committed heinous crimes and has blamed migration for the 
trafficking of drugs like fentanyl, even though federal data suggests many 
people smuggling fentanyl across the border are U.S. citizens. He has vowed to 
carry out the largest deportation operation in U.S. history.

   Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric has also strayed into talking points not 
backed by evidence, including unfounded claims that migrants are entering the 
country to vote in the 2024 election.

   Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House majority leader, made that 
statement in his remarks, declaring, "Biden and Harris want illegals to vote 
now that they've opened up the border."

   The convention's programming has featured people the campaign has referred 
to as "everyday Americans." On Tuesday, they included people who had lost loved 
ones to fentanyl overdoses or in violent crimes linked by authorities to 
immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

   Among the speakers was Michael Morin, whose sister was Rachel Morin, a 
Maryland woman whom prosecutors say was killed and raped by a fugitive from El 
Salvador.

   "Joe Biden and his designated 'border czar' Kamala Harris opened our borders 
to him and others like him, empowering them to victimize the innocent," Morin 
told the audience.

   Peer-reviewed academic studies have generally found no link between 
immigration and violent crime, though conclusions vary based on the data 
examined.

   The recent attempt on Trump's life lingers over convention

   Trump's survival of an attempted assassination Saturday at a rally in 
Pennsylvania was on the minds of many inside the hall. One of the delegates in 
the crowd could be seen with a folded white piece of paper over his ear -- an 
apparent tribute to the bandage Trump wore when he entered the hall Monday to a 
roaring crowd.

   Trump was again wearing a bandage when he arrived Tuesday night, appearing 
even earlier in the arena than he did the night before. Trump entered a few 
minutes after his newly chosen running mate, Ohio Sen. JD Vance.

   Scalise, who was injured in a politically motivated shooting in 2017 while 
he was practicing for a charity baseball game, spoke of his own experience when 
he touched on Trump's attack.

   "While I was fighting for my life, Donald Trump was one of the first to come 
to console my family at the hospital. That's the kind of leader he is. 
Courageous under fire, compassionate towards others," Scalise said.

   In the wake of Saturday's attempt on Trump's life, there was a heightened 
focus on security at the convention, which drew thousands of people to downtown 
Milwaukee, including a number of high-profile elected officials.

   A man armed with an AK-47 pistol and wearing a ski mask was taken into 
custody Monday, the convention's first day, near the Fiserv Forum where the 
convention is being held, a federal law enforcement official said Tuesday. The 
official was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the ongoing 
investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

   On Tuesday, five Ohio police officers who were in Wisconsin for the 
convention shot a man who was in a knife fight near the convention, killing 
him, Milwaukee's police chief said.

   There's growing anticipation for Trump's speech

   Trump and Vance were expected to appear in the hall each night of the 
convention. Vance is slated to speak Wednesday and Trump will speak Thursday.

   Trump, who has long decried rivals with harsh language and talked about 
prosecuting opponents if he wins a second term, seemed poised to deliver a more 
toned-down speech. His eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., said in an Axios interview 
outside the RNC that he spent three or four hours going through his father's 
convention speech with him, "trying to de-escalate some of that rhetoric."

   "I think it lasts," the younger Trump said of the change in his father's 
rhetoric. "There are events that change you for a couple minutes, and there are 
events that change you permanently."

   But there were also hints in Tuesday's programming of some of Trump's old 
grievances, including several references to Trump's disproven theories of 
election fraud. One of the primetime speakers, Madeline Brame, railed against 
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office prosecuted Trump for 
illegally orchestrating a hush money scheme to influence the 2016 election. 
That made Trump the first former president convicted of a felony crime.

   Brame accused Bragg of having mishandled the cases against the people 
accused of killing her son. Of Trump, she said, "He's been a victim of the same 
corrupt system that I have been and my family has been."

   Then she echoed a version of a line he has delivered at his rallies for 
years.

   "They're after us," she said. "He's just standing in the way."

 
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