Rep. Kevin McCarthy, speaking on the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention, invoked the American dream and touched on some of the greatest achievements in U.S. history Thursday in a brief but wide-ranging exhortation for Americans to re-elect President Donald Trump.
In a pre-recorded speech lasting a little more than three minutes, the House minority leader from Bakersfield ticked off a list of what he considered Trump's key accomplishments during the last four years, from confronting China and negotiating strong trade deals to increasing U.S. energy independence and building "the greatest economy the world has ever seen."
The nationally televised speech, broadcast at 5:35 p.m., included video footage of diverse American families, as well as U.S. veterans and imagery from recent Black Lives Matter protests. McCarthy wore a white dress shirt with no tie and a gray suit while standing at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial with the west front of the U.S. Capitol in the background.
Self-determination was a primary theme, alongside historical victories over poverty, disease, fascism and communism.
"A great nation because of great people," he said. "And no one has done more to protect and advance it than President Trump."
The congressman painted Democrats in dark tones, calling them socialists ready to dismantle U.S. institutions, defund police and destroy the economy.
He said Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris "think this election is about government."
"They are wrong," he said. "It's about your family and your future."
Trump and his Republicans allies, McCarthy said, will renew the country's promise, making sure everyone has economic opportunity and ensuring Americans are "equal under God, under the Constitution and under the law."
"As Republicans," he said, "it's our mission to renew the American dream, restore our way of life and rebuild the greatest economy in the world."
McCarthy touched on COVID-19 without mentioning the pandemic by name. He called it "an invisible enemy that we didn't ask for, nor invite," adding, "But we will defeat it."
In a written response to McCarthy's speech, Christian Romo, chairman of the Kern County Democratic Central Committee, took Trump and the Republicans to task over the COVID-19 crisis.
He noted unemployment has climbed and deaths from the virus have soared under Trump's watch.
"Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans are peddling racial fear, broken promises and lies to distract from the fact that their inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed small businesses, shuttered schools and cost untold numbers of Americans their lives and jobs," Romo wrote.
"The economic crisis that is destroying America’s families and businesses will not be solved until we have a robust, national response to this pandemic," he continued. "That response will not come without a change of leadership."
But Michael Caves, vice chairman of the Kern County Republican Party, said in a written response that McCarthy's speech resonated with Republicans and the nation as a whole.
He called the congressman's speech inspirational and true to the party's roots under former President Abraham Lincoln.
Like McCarthy, Caves' response focused on Republicans' commitment to the American dream and self-determination. He wrote that government gets its power from the people, "not the other way around."
"Thousands of families, farm workers, small business owners, laborers, first generation Americans and college students heard McCarthy speak tonight and realized, perhaps for the first time ever, that they are Republicans," he wrote.