Had there been any doubt about the dimensions of Mr. Trump’s political persona, and the license he is willing to take with his role as the country’s chief executive, the first two nights of the Republican convention would have dispensed with it. Mr. Pompeo’s appearance, the pardon and the parade of family members who would pay tribute to the president were stark reminders of Mr. Trump’s ability to impose his will on the party’s signature event of the election cycle. In keeping with his preferences, and not wanting to remind viewers of the coronavirus, nobody who appeared during the course of the evening wore a face mask.
There were, though, tacit acknowledgments from Republicans that they had to reach out to undecided voters.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, along with several other speakers, trumpeted the legislation overhauling criminal justice that the president signed. Tiffany Trump sought to portray her father as a champion of women and working mothers.
A handful of figures took the stage to praise the president and to warn blue-collar voters about Mr. Biden: a businessman and a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, a small-town mayor from the Iron Range in Minnesota and an eighth-generation Maine lobsterman, Jason Joyce. “He’ll be controlled by the environmental extremists,” Mr. Joyce, whose Down East accent left little doubt of his roots, said of the former vice president.
Soon after trying to broaden their appeal, though, Republicans quickly returned to appeals targeted more to their base. Cissie Graham Lynch, a granddaughter of Billy Graham, said Democrats were pushing schools to “allow boys to compete in girls sports and use girls locker rooms,” referring to transgender people, and the anti-abortion activist, Abby Johnson, recalled that Margaret Sanger, an early abortion rights pioneer, believed in eugenics.
The night also featured perhaps the bluntest character attack so far on Mr. Trump’s challenger when Pam Bondi, the former attorney general of Florida, delivered a litany of accusations — some accurate, others misleading or exaggerated — against Mr. Biden and members of his family, who she claimed had sought to profit from his political career.