President Donald Trump said that where Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden sees “American darkness”, he sees “American greatness”.
Anxious for his turn in the spotlight after the four-day Democratic National Convention, Mr Trump is hitting his opponent hard.
“Over the last week, the Democrats held the darkest and angriest and gloomiest convention in American history,” Mr Trump said in a speech to the Republican-aligned Council for National Policy in Arlington, Virginia.
“They spent four straight days attacking America as racist, a horrible country that must be redeemed.”
Mr Trump in recent speeches has drawn his own stark images of unrest and violence in American cities and has positioned himself as a defender of law and order.
Mr Biden, in his nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night, portrayed Mr Trump as someone who tries to divide Americans.
“United we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America,” Mr Biden said.
Mr Trump and the Democrats agreed on one thing.
Just as the Democrats had repeatedly contended Thursday night, Mr Trump declared: “The future of our country and indeed our civilisation is at stake on November 3.”
He chided the Democrats, saying their convention did not address the threat from China or bringing safety to Democratic-run cities.
“Joe Biden grimly declared a season of American darkness,” Mr Trump said.
Vice President Mike Pence, interviewed on Friday, said the Republican National Convention next week will focus on what Mr Trump has accomplished, including on the economy and with his coronavirus response.
Mr Pence promised a heavy focus on GOP support for law and order and said the Democrats had failed to acknowledge violence plaguing some US cities.
“We’re going to make sure that the American people see the choice here,” Mr Pence said.
You placed your faith in our campaign and I can’t thank you enough. I’m grateful for your support and honored to be the Democratic nominee.
With 75 days left, we’ve got to get to work. Chip in to help us win: https://t.co/Kkref2smgA
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 21, 2020
Both Mr Trump and Mr Pence have blamed outbreaks of violence on a radical left, which they have sought to associate with Mr Biden and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris.
Mr Trump made clear after the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, and the protests that sprang up around the country calling for changes to policing that he sides with law enforcement.
Mr Pence said: “We don’t have to make a choice between supporting law enforcement and supporting our African American families.
“We have done both from the beginning of this administration.
“We’re going to continue to do both.”
Mr Pence appeared on morning TV talk shows to counter Democrats and promote the Republican viewpoint hours after Democrats wrapped up their four-day convention.
Mr Biden and Ms Harris accepted the Democratic Party nominations for president and vice president, respectively.
Republicans plan to nominate Mr Trump and Mr Pence at their four-day celebration.
Mr Pence promised a “great lineup of leaders” next week along with a “great number of voices from all across the country to talk about what this president has done”.
Among known speakers are Mr Trump, Mr Pence and first lady Melania Trump.
The Democrats argued at their convention that Mr Trump is unfit to lead the country for another four years.
Former President Barack Obama, a frequent target of Mr Trump’s broadsides, warned that democracy itself is at risk under Mr Trump.
Mr Pence said: “I didn’t watch much of it and, frankly, I couldn’t watch much of it.
“There was so much negativity, nothing but ad hominem attacks.”
Mr Pence appeared on Friday on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, ABC, CBS and CNN.