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Trump, Republicans paint dire portrait of US under Biden

Trump and his party say Democrat will usher in era of radical socialism and chaos

NORTH CAROLINA : President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans opened their national convention on Monday by painting a dire portrait of America if Democrat Joe Biden wins the White House in November, arguing he will usher in an era of radical socialism and chaos.

Mr Trump set the tone early in the day when he addressed delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina, after formally securing their nomination for another term, and claimed without evidence that Democrats were trying to steal the election.

Republicans had vowed to offer an inspiring, positive message in contrast to what they characterised as a dark and gloomy Democratic convention last week. But the first night's prime-time programme featured speakers who peppered their remarks with ominous predictions if Democrats win power.

"They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear," Trump campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle said.

"They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see, and think, and believe, so they can control how you live."

The four-day convention opened at a critical juncture for Mr Trump, 74, who trails Mr Biden, 77, in national opinion polls during a pandemic that has killed more than 176,000 Americans and erased millions of jobs.

Like its Democratic counterpart, the Republican convention was largely virtual. Most speakers addressed a quiet auditorium in Washington, DC, bowing to the reality of the pandemic.

Mr Donald Trump Jr, the president's oldest son and Ms Guilfoyle's boyfriend, portrayed the ongoing civil unrest as violent assaults on small businesses by anarchists, and said Democrats would fail to keep neighbourhoods safe. Multiple speakers accused Mr Biden, a moderate, of wanting to defund the police and ban fracking, though he has rejected both positions.

Two Republican rising stars - Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the lone Black Republican in the US Senate, and Ms Nikki Haley, Mr Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations, also spoke.

Earlier in the day, the president repeated his assertion that voting by mail, which is expected to be far more common during the pandemic, will lead to widespread fraud. Independent election security experts say voter fraud is extraordinarily rare in the US.

In a separate development, evangelical leader and ardent Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr resigned as head of a leading Christian university following reports about his sex life, US media said.

Mr Falwell, 58, had agreed to step down, but backtracked following media reports of his resignation, said Liberty University, which was founded by his father Jerry Falwell, in a statement Monday. Mr Falwell had been on leave since Aug 7 amid a furore over an Instagram picture of him and a young woman, both with pants partly unzipped.

Since then he has been hit by sordid reports about his sex life, with a former pool attendant claiming he had a sexual relationship with Mr Falwell's wife Becki, which the evangelical leader used to watch. - REUTERS, AFP

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