WASHINGTON — The third night of the Republican National Convention featured a keynote address by Vice President Mike Pence that highlighted the Trump administration’s successes and attacked Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Pence’s wife, Karen, also spoke, as did senior White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, who said earlier in the week that she would leave that role at the end of the month.
Trump’s convention speech is scheduled for Thursday night, when he will formally accept the Republican nomination. The president has already spoken and appeared on numerous occasions throughout the convention.
Here are the top moments from Wednesday night:
Pence defends Covid-19 response, attacks Biden
Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Republican National Convention from the historic site of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Pence’s keynote speech contrasted the Trump administration’s record with what he said America would look like under a Biden administration.
“President Trump set our nation on a path to freedom and opportunity from the very first day of this administration. But Joe Biden would set America on a path of socialism and decline,” Pence said.
“Every day, president Trump has been fighting to protect the promise of America. Every day our president has been fighting to expand the reach of the American dream. And every day President Donald Trump has been fighting for you. Now it’s our turn to fight for him,” he added.
Pence, head of the president’s coronavirus task force, defended the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.
“In our first three years, we built the greatest economy in the world. We made America great again. And then the coronavirus struck from China,” Pence said. “We built hospitals, we surged military medical personnel and enacted an economic rescue package that saved 50 million American jobs,” he said, adding that “no one who required a ventilator was ever denied a ventilator in the United States.”
The coronavirus has infected more than 5.8 million people in the U.S. as of Wednesday, more than a quarter of the globe’s reported cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. On Wednesday, the nation’s death toll reached above 179,000.
Karen Pence speaks to military families
Second lady Karen Pence took the stage at the Republican National Convention to deliver a softer message to voters and address the families of U.S. military service members.
“The Pences are a military family. Our son, Michael, serves in the U.S. Marines, and our son in law, Henry, serves in the U.S. Navy,” said Pence. “And one of my key initiatives is to elevate and encourage military spouses. These men and women, like our daughter, Charlotte, and our daughter in law, Sarah, are the home front heroes,” she added.
She then shared a handful of stories from military spouses and described their unique hardships.
“Military spouses may experience frequent moves, job changes, periods of being a single parent while their loved one is deployed — all while exhibiting pride, strength, and determination and being a part of something bigger than themselves,” Pence said, before thanking these families for their service.
Pence also took a moment to thank health care workers, teachers, first responders, mental health providers, law enforcement officers, grocery and delivery workers and farmers.
Kellyanne Conway’s last hurrah
Conway, who on Sunday said she would leave her White House role at the end of August, gave a speech that focused on how Trump has supported women in leadership roles.
“For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men,” she began. “President Trump helped me shatter a barrier in the world of politics by empowering me to manage his campaign to its successful conclusion,” she added.
Conway addressed her work on tackling America’s drug abuse crisis and the support she received from Trump in those efforts.
“When President Trump asked me to coordinate the White House efforts on combatting the drug crisis, he said, ‘This is personal, Kellyanne.’ So many lives have been ruined by addiction and we’ll never even know it because people are ashamed to reach out for help, or they’re not sure who to turn to in their toughest hour,” she said.
Joni Ernst takes key Senate race national
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who recorded her remarks in a barn, flanked by a bale of hay and a tractor, spoke about Trump’s support for farmers and slammed the Democrat’s Green New Deal.
“If given power, they would essentially ban animal agriculture and eliminate gas-powered cars. It would destroy the agriculture industry, not just here in Iowa, but throughout the country,” Ernst said of Joe Biden and the Green New Deal. Biden hasn’t explicitly endorsed the proposal, which has been pushed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, but has called it a “crucial framework.”
Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate, has carved out a role for herself as a vocal advocate for victims of sexual abuse in the military. This year, she faces a close reelection race against Democrat Theresa Greenfield.
Ernst also lauded the success of trade deals brokered by Trump with Japan, as well as Mexico and Canada. She did not, however, mention Trump’s phase one trade agreement with China, which he has touted as being a win for American farmers.
Ernst added that during the coronavirus pandemic, Trump again turned to help farmers.
“When the pandemic hit, President Trump heard us in our call for assistance for our farmers. Knowing we have an ally in the White House is important,” she said.
Crenshaw calls U.S. ‘country of heroes’
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who was a U.S. Navy SEAL, discussed his time in the armed services and called America a “country of heroes.”
“Our enemies fear us because Americans fight for good, and we know it,” Crenshaw said, adding that the Trump administration had defeated the ISIS caliphate and restored America’s “might again.”
“America’s heroism is not relegated to the battlefield. Every single day we see them if you just know where to look,” he added.
“It’s the nurse who volunteers for back to back shifts caring for Covid patients because she feels that’s her duty. It’s the parent who will re-learn algebra because there’s no way they’re letting their kid fall behind while schools are closed,” said Crenshaw, of Texas.
His speech did not mention Trump by name, a rarity for the convention thus far.
CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger and Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.