The Reagans’ favorite color will never be the same after her speech at the Republican National Convention.
Red states. Reagan red. The red of President Trump’s favorite ties. There’s so much red in the recent mythology of the Republican Party, it’s little wonder, really, that it was the predominant color worn by speakers on the opening day of the Republican National Convention.
It stood out on the stage flanked by the towering Doric columns of the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., where many of the speeches aired Monday night were recorded, even against the row of American flags. On Natalie Harp, as she told of surviving cancer and the “right to try”; on Tanya Weinreis, the coffee shop owner whose business was one of the first to receive a Paycheck Protection Program grant in Montana; on the closing speaker, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. (Though not on Donald Trump Jr., who chose a silvery blue tie for his own excoriation of the rival party.)
But on no one did red stand out quite so much as it did on Kimberly Guilfoyle, senior fund-raising official for the Trump campaign, former Fox News host and Mr. Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, as she gave what was the perhaps the most … fiery speech of the night.
“Democrats started their convention last week with Eva Longoria, a famous Hollywood actress who played a housewife on TV. Well, I’m actually a real housewife and a mom from Michigan with two wonderful kids in public school who happens to be the only — only the second woman in 164 years to run the Republican Party. Four years ago, President Trump started a movement unlike any other. And over the next four days, we will hear from a few of the millions of hardworking everyday Americans who have benefited from his leadership.” “Florida —” “Georgia —” “Guam —” “Indiana —” “Iowa —” “Kansas —” “Kentucky —” “Tennessee —” “Texas!” “— are excited to nominate —” “— Donald J. Trump —” “— and Vice President Mike Pence —” ”— for four more years.” “Thank you for all you’ve done.” “He’s taken on the swamp, all of the swamp — the Democrats, the press and the Never Trumpers. And when you take on the swamp, the swamp fights back.” “This election is a battle for the soul of America. Your choice is clear: Do you support the cancel culture, the cosmopolitan elites of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden, who blame America first? Do you think America is to blame? Or do you believe in American greatness? Ladies and gentlemen, leaders and fighters for freedom and liberty and the American dream, the best is yet to come!” “I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. They came to America and settled in a small Southern town. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world. We faced discrimination and hardship, but my parents never gave in to grievance and hate. My mom built a successful business. My dad taught 30 years at a historically black college. And the people of South Carolina chose me as their first minority and first female governor. America is a story that’s a work in progress. Now is the time to build on that progress and make America even freer, fairer and better for everyone. That’s why it’s so tragic to see so much of the Democratic Party turning a blind eye towards riots and rage. The American people know we can do better. America isn’t perfect, but the principles we hold dear are perfect. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that even on our worst day we are blessed to live in America.” “Our founders believed there was nothing more important than protecting our God-given right to think for ourselves. Now the left, they’re trying to cancel all of those founders. They don’t seem to understand this important principle: In order to improve in the future, we must learn from our past, not erase it. So we’re not going to tear down monuments and forget the people who built our great nation. Instead, we will learn from our past so we don’t repeat any mistakes.” “We don’t give in to cancel culture or the radical and factually baseless belief that things are worse today than in the 1860s or the 1960s. We have work to do. But I believe in the goodness of America, the promise that all men and all women are created equal. Our side is working on policy while Joe Biden’s radical Democrats are trying to permanently transform what it means to be an American. Make no mistake: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want a cultural revolution, a fundamentally different America. If we let them, they will turn our country into a socialist utopia. And history has taught us that path only leads to pain and misery, especially for hard-working people hoping to rise. Instead, we must focus on the promise of the American journey.”
Taking the stage in a flaming red sheath dress, Ms. Guilfoyle started loud and got louder, shouting into the void of an auditorium emptied in accordance with pandemic regulations. As her decibels rose (and rose; she spoke the way the president tweets), so did the urgency.
“They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear,” she cried of the Democrats. “They want to steal your liberty, your freedom, they want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.” At the end she raised both her arms, in the classic pose of Eva Perón as immortalized by “Evita.”
Combined with her words, her red dress was like a beacon: the red of a stop sign, of alarm, of warning, of danger. The red that conveys a message understood widely even without words the world over. The red of “seeing red” fury and Mars, god of war.
The red that spawned an immediate host of associations in online viewers and related memes, with multiple comparisons to “Game of Thrones,” fire and brimstone and Rita Repulsa of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Also assorted other fantasy films.
And all that hi-octane red overshadowed the somewhat more diluted pink of Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina, which matched her more modulated tone and (slightly more modulated) message.
Of course, there is some irony in the fact that traditionally red is also associated with socialism, a label that several speakers, including Ms. Guilfoyle, attempted to paste on the Democrats as a scarlet S sign of shame.
And that the last celebrity to really make red a political statement was Jane Fonda during her #firedrillfridays, when her red coat became a symbol of protest in her drive to raise awareness around the climate crisis, which the Trump administration denies.
Republican convention speakers mounted a revisionist defense of President Trump’s record, and the party embraced the grievances of his base. Follow our live updates.
The New York Times is livestreaming the Republican National Convention tonight, with real-time analysis and fact-checking from our reporters. Here’s how to tune in.
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