WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After hearing Democrats brand President Donald Trump a threat to U.S. democracy, Republicans will paint his challenger Joe Biden as beholden to the radical left at a convention of their own next week, Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday.
This week’s Democratic National Convention, held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, for four days showcased scathing criticism of Trump’s character and the more than 170,000 people who have died from the outbreak under his watch.
Pence deflected the criticism over the coronavirus response.
“We lost 22 million jobs in the course of this coronavirus pandemic. But because of the solid foundation that President Trump poured of less taxes, less regulation, more American energy, more free and fair trade, we’ve seen 9 million Americans already go back to work,” Pence told CBS “This Morning.”
With a Nov. 3 election 74 days away and Trump trailing Biden in several opinion polls, Pence launched a counterattack during television interviews ahead of next week’s Republican National Convention to renominate Trump.
Biden’s vice presidential pick of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris confirmed that the Democratic Party had been taken over by “the radical left,” Pence told Fox Business Network, describing her as a “California liberal.”
In a speech accepting his party’s nomination on Thursday night, Biden said: “The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.”
“Here and now, I give you my word: if you entrust me with the presidency, I’ll draw on the best of us, not the worst,” Biden said.
Democrats sought to present a diverse, united front with the integrity and faith they said Trump lacks.
‘ON THE BALLOT’
Pence, who will be seeking re-election with Trump, told the Fox Business Network that the Democrats painted a grim picture of America. He said most of the convention was “an ad hominem attack” on the president of the United States.
Pence outlined what he said would be the thrust of their four-day convention starting on Monday, appropriating a line from Biden’s speech that character, decency, science and democracy “are all on the ballot.”
“The economy is on the ballot. Law and order is on the ballot, and the American people know it,” Pence countered.
Republicans will contrast that with Democrats’ agenda of higher taxes, government-funded healthcare, immigration reform and cuts in law enforcement at a time of what Pence told Fox Business Network was “violence in the streets of our major cities.”
He shrugged off the array of high-profile Republicans, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Ohio Governor John Kasich, who have crossed party lines to support Biden, 77, over Trump, 74.
Those Republicans turned on Trump because he came to Washington promising to shake up the establishment, Pence said.
Biden’s long tenure in politics, as a U.S. senator and two terms as President Barack Obama’s vice president, will count against him, Pence said.
“Joe Biden has been in Washington for 47 years and the speech he gave last night was just more of the same talk that we’ve heard from him and other liberal Democrat politicians for the decades,” he said.
Trump echoed the critique in a campaign video on Twitter, saying: “After 47 years of failure, we’ve had more than enough.”
The Republican vice president will debate his Democratic challenger on Oct. 7. “I’m looking forward to that debate more than I can tell you,” Pence said.
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