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Melania Trump empathises with coronavirus victims in convention speech

WASHINGTON: First Lady Melania Trump offered sympathy for victims of the coronavirus pandemic and a plea for racial understanding in a Republican convention speech on Tuesday aimed directly at women voters who have abandoned US President Donald Trump.

On the convention's second day, the speech's warm tone was out of step with a Republican gathering that featured harsh rhetoric about Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Mrs Trump acknowledged the pain of the pandemic in sharp contrast to most other speakers, notably her husband, assailed by Democrats for his lack of solace during a crisis that has killed more than 178,000.

"I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed drastically," Mrs Trump told a crowd seated in the White House Rose Garden, with the President in the front row.

"My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one. And my prayers are with those who are... suffering.

" I know many people are anxious and... helpless. I want you to know: You're not alone."

With opinion polls showing Mr Trump shedding support among college-educated women turned off by his combative style, Mrs Trump and other women featured on Tuesday appeared to be trying to sway the critical voting bloc ahead of the Nov 3 presidential election.

The First Lady reflected on the racial unrest that has swept the country in the months since the death in May of a black man, Mr George Floyd, under the knee of a white policeman.

"I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals," she said.

"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."

Meanwhile, former vice-president Al Gore, on Tuesday accused Mr Trump of trying to "put his knee on the neck of democracy" by undermining mail-in voting and sowing doubts, without evidence, about the integrity of the election.

"He seems to have no compunctions at all about trying to rip apart the social fabric and the political equilibrium of the American people, and he's strategically planting doubts in advance," Mr Gore said.

Mr Gore called Mr Trump's actions a "despicable strategy". - REUTERS

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