Striking key notes on family, drug addiction, and relentless attacks on the Trump administration, first lady Melania Trump said "Donald Trump has not, and will not, lose focus" on the American people.
"In my husband, you have president who will not stop fighting for you and your families," she said in Tuesday night's address to the Republican National Convention from the White House Rose Garden. "I see how hard he works each day, and night.
"And despite the unprecedented attacks from the media, you cannot stop him. If you tell him it cannot be done, he just works harder."
She highlighted not only his drive, but his achievements emanating out of a love for his country, of which she is now a naturalized citizen.
"From the day that I met him, he has only wanted to make this country the best it can be," she said. "For many years, I watched him grow concerned and frustrated, and I'm so proud to see the many things that he's done in such a short time.
"America is in his heart. So while at times we only see the worst of people and politics on the evening news, let's remember how we come together in the most difficult times. While the debate rages on about issues of race, let's focus on the strides that we have made and work together for a better tomorrow for everyone."
In addition to making impassioned pleas to address the drug addiction epidemic and the global coronavirus pandemic, the first lady called for peace and respect for all races and creeds.
"I like to call on the citizens of this country to take a moment, pause and look at things from all perspectives," she said. "I urge people to come together in a civil manner, so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals.
"I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice. Never make assumptions based on the color of a person's skin."
The president pardoned a reformed felon, used the White House grounds to elevate his wife's keynote address and oversaw a naturalization ceremony for several immigrants in the midst of the prime-time program. The welcoming tone was at odds with some of his own policies, which are aimed at reducing both legal and illegal immigration.
Melania Trump and two of his children led a diverse collection of Republicans — swing-state farmers, evangelical Christians, and even a convicted bank robber — calling for Trump's re-election, although they focused more on his policies than any humanizing effort.
"I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you're not alone," the first lady said, referencing the pandemic raging across America. "Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic."
In one of the few emotional moments of the night, Trump showed a video of himself signing a pardon for Jon Ponder, a man from Nevada who has founded an organization that helps prisoners reintegrate into society.
"We live in a nation of second chances," Ponder said, standing alongside Trump.
"John's life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption," Trump said before he signed the pardon.
Tuesday's two-and-a-half-hour lineup also featured a Maine lobsterman, a Wisconsin farmer, and a Native American leader. Social conservatives were represented by an anti-abortion activist and Billy Graham's granddaughter. The convention also featured a Kentucky high school student whose interaction last year with Native Americans became a flashpoint in the nation's culture wars.
Tuesday night, there were fierce attacks on Joe Biden throughout, although the lineup generally maintained a more positive tone – in part due to some last-minute changes.
Mary Ann Mendoza, an Arizona woman whose son, a police officer, was killed in 2014 in a car accident involving an immigrant in the country illegally, was pulled from the program minutes before the event began. She had directed her Twitter followers to a series of anti-Semitic, conspiratorial messages.
There were also barrier breakers featured like Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the first African American to hold statewide office in Kentucky, and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, the first Latina to hold that office in her state.
And the convention lineup featured a Democrat for the second night: Robert Vlaisavljevich, the mayor of Eveleth, Minnesota, praised Trump's support for his state's mining industry in particular.
"President Trump is fighting for all of us. He delivered the best economy in our history and he will do it again," Vlaisavljevich said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was addressing the convention and nation during an official overseas trip in Israel.
"President Trump has put his America First vision into action," Pompeo said. "It may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it's worked."
Pompeo's taped appearance breaks with decades of tradition of secretaries of state avoiding the appearance of involving themselves in domestic politics. That his video was filmed in Jerusalem, where he was on an official foreign trip, has raised additional questions of propriety.
Melania Trump was still the star of the night.
Out of the public view for much of the year, the first lady was stepping into the spotlight to argue for a second term for her husband — while trying to avoid the missteps that marred her introduction to the nation four years ago.
At her 2016 convention speech, she included passages similar to what former first lady Michelle Obama had said in her first convention speech. A speechwriter for the Trump Organization later took the blame.
Only the second foreign-born first lady in U.S. history, Melania Trump, 50, is a native of Slovenia, a former communist country in Eastern Europe. She became Trump's third wife in 2005 and gave birth to their now 14-year-old son, Barron, in 2006 — the year she became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
The first lady spoke from the renovated Rose Garden, despite questions about using the White House for a political convention. She addressed an in-person group of around 50 people, including her husband.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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