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Day one of the Republican convention, told in four surreal moments

Kimberly Guilfoyle.Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Night one of the Republican National Convention played out Monday night in a series of pre-recorded speeches filmed from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

In many ways, the program resembled a traditional nominating convention: Speakers took the same stage, one after another, to deliver short remarks, with party-produced videos mixed in.

But the night also had a surreal feel to it, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, which has made large gatherings impossible: The speakers delivered their speeches to an empty room. And the business of the convention, in which delegates formally cast their votes for their party’s nominee, was done with little fanfare earlier in the day.

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Here’s what happened on night one:

Kimberly Guilfoyle gave a forceful, dark speech warning Democrats ‘want to enslave you'

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality who is now a surrogate for President Trump, warned that Democrats were setting out to “destroy this country, and everything that we have fought for and hold dear.”

In her prime-time speech, delivered as if she was speaking to a roaring crowd, Guilfoyle painted a bleak picture of the motivations of the Democratic Party.

“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!” she said. “They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal, victim ideology, to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself.”

Guilfoyle also drew criticism for implying during her remarks that her mother, a native of Puerto Rico, was an immigrant. Puerto Rico is a US territory and its residents are American citizens.

“As a first generation American, I know how dangerous their socialist agenda is,” she said. “My mother, Mercedes, was a special education teacher from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. My father, also an immigrant, came to this nation in pursuit of the American Dream. Now, I consider it my duty to fight to protect that dream.”

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Donald Trump Jr. distorted his father’s record on the coronavirus and the economy

Donald Trump Jr.: Biden's policies would stop our economic recovery cold
The president's eldest son addressed the first night of the GOP convention.

One of the night’s keynote speakers, Donald Trump, Jr., made a series of false claims about both his father’s record.

Trump Jr. claimed that his father took decisive action on the coronavirus response, and “shut down” travel from China. But he merely placed restrictions on some travelers from China. The Associated Press has reported that more than 8,000 Chinese and foreign nationals based in China’s Hong Kong and Macao territories entered the US in the first three months after the travel restrictions were imposed.

Trump Jr. also claimed that the president “acted quickly” to deliver ventilators and personal protective equipment to front line workers. But many health care workers in particular faced a shortage of PPE, even as Trump urged states to secure their own supplies.

Finally, Trump Jr. claimed that his father enacted tax cuts that were “the biggest in our history,” and built “the greatest economy our country had ever seen.”

Both of these statements are false. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Trump’s tax cut ranked 12th in size as a share of the total economy.

Additionally, putting aside the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has led to record unemployment under Trump, the economy prior to the pandemic, while healthy, did not match the pace of growth in previous decades.

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St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters stoked fear: ‘Your family will not be safe’

Couple who pointed guns at BLM protesters speaks at RNC
RNC featured Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple arrested after pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters marching past their home.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters who were marching outside their home on their way to protest the city’s mayor, said that failing to re-elect Donald Trump would mean mobs would descend on suburban neighborhoods and Biden would “abolish” the suburbs altogether.

“They are not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities, they want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning,” Patricia McCloskey said. “This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into thriving suburban neighborhoods. President Trump smartly ended this government overreach, but Joe Biden wants to bring it back.”

She continued: “These are the policies that are coming to a neighborhood near you. So make no mistake: No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”

Last month, the McCloskeys were charged with a felony for unlawful use of a weapon stemming from the incident outside their home.

Trump praised Turkish leader Recep Erdogan while speaking with a former hostage

President Trump had several appearances on day one of the Republican convention: He gave a lengthy, rambling speech to party delegates following his formal nomination earlier in the day, and also appeared in pre-recorded conversations with average Americans during the convention’s prime-time programming.

In one such conversation, Trump spoke with a group of Americans who have been held captive by foreign governments, including Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor, who had been imprisoned in Turkey.

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“I was held in Turkey for two years,” Brunson said, “and you took unprecedented steps actually to secure my release.”

Trump went on to praise Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

“I have to say that, to me, President Erdogan was very good,” Trump said.

Trump has come under frequent criticism for praising authoritarian figures ranging from Russian President Vladimir Putin to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.