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The RNC's first night showcased Trump's alternative reality

The opening night of the Republican National Convention delighted President Trump's base with an alternative narrative where he masterfully deflected COVID, he's popular with Black Americans, and Joe Biden is a menacing leftist.

Why it matters: Although CNN and MSNBC cut away for fact checks, this week's convention gives the Trump campaign hour upon hour to show millions of viewers an America as Trump sees it.


It's relatively rare for a Trump production to include empathy testimonials, but last night's did.

  • For so much of his political career, Trump has depicted himself as an antihero, telling people that the world is a zero-sum battle, where only brutal tactics can defeat brutal enemies.
  • Two Trump friends, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and former football star Herschel Walker, both testified to what they described as his private empathy.
  • Walker described a 37-year friendship and Jordan recounted a family tragedy in which the president took time out of his day to console Jordan's grieving relatives.

The night's star was Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only Black Republican senator, and the first Black senator from the South since Reconstruction:

My grandfather’s 99th birthday would have been tomorrow. Growing up, he had to cross the street if a white person was coming. He suffered the indignity of being forced out of school as a third grader to pick cotton, and never learned to read or write.
Yet, he lived to see his grandson become the first African American to be elected to both the United States House and Senate.
Our family went from Cotton to Congress in one lifetime.
Don Jr. speaks in the cavernous Mellon Auditorium. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Donald Trump Jr., who called Biden "basically the Loch Ness Monster of the swamp," made a populist appeal for his father's re-election:

  • "[W]e are not going to tear down monuments and forget the people who built our great nation. Instead, we will learn from our past so we don't repeat any mistakes."
  • "It all starts by rejecting the radicals who want to drag us into the dark, and embracing the man who represents a bright and beautiful future for all."
Nikki Haley speaks. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nikki Haley, who was Trump's ambassador to the UN, after serving as South Carolina governor: "In much of the Democratic Party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country."

  • "This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. They came to America and settled in a small southern town."
  • "My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world."

Axios' David Nather, Margaret Talev, Alayna Treene and Hans Nichols contributed reporting.

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