Vice President Mike Pence addressed the American people on the third day of the Republican National Convention from Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key was famously inspired to write the poem that would become the country's national anthem.
A much grander setting than Joni Ernst's barn, then.
Pence conveyed the seriousness of the occasion with his trademark half-suspicious, half-sultry squint at the camera.
"The heroes who held this fort took their stand for life, liberty, freedom and the American flag. And those ideals have defined our nation," Pence said.
"But they were hardly ever mentioned at last week's Democratic National Convention. Instead, Democrats spent four days attacking America."
They spent four days attacking Donald Trump. Believe it or not, there is a distinction between those two things.
"Joe Biden said we were living through a 'season of darkness'. But as President Trump said, where Joe Biden sees American darkness, we see American greatness," he continued, pausing for applause.
And it actually came! There hasn't been much of that this year, but because he was speaking outside, Pence did have a live audience.
"In these challenging times, our country needs a president who believes in America. Who believes in the boundless capacity of the American people to meet any challenge, defeat any foe, and defend the freedom we hold dear," he said.
"America needs four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House."
The Vice President went on to speak about law and order, which has been a bit of a theme today.
"The hard truth is you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America," he told viewers.
"Under President Trump, we will stand with those who stand on the thin blue line. And we're not going to defund the police. Not now, not ever.
"We're passing through a time of testing. But in the midst of this global pandemic, just as our nation had begun to recover, we've seen violence and chaos in the streets of our major cities.
"President Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest. But rioting and looting is not peaceful protest. Tearing down statues is not free speech. And those who do so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"The violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedom for us to strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American, of every race and creed and colour."
That line sparked a standing ovation from the crowd.
So did this one, which came right at the end of the speech.
"With President Trump in the White House for four more years, and with God's help, we will make America great again. Again."
Donald and Melania Trump showed up for a quick cameo appearance. They joined Mike and Karen Pence on stage as country singer Trace Adkins belted out a rugged version of The Star Spangled Banner.
The two couples then spent some time meeting the crowd, including a group of first responders and military personnel.
The Trumps and Pences mostly stayed at a distance, though the audience itself was not exactly practising social distancing.
Pence defends police amid rising race tension
The Vice President forcefully defended law enforcement but made no mention of the black Americans killed by police this year as he addressed Republican convention proceedings that unfolded amid new protests against racial injustice following the latest shooting.
Pence argued that Democratic leaders are allowing lawlessness to prevail from coast to coast. He and others described cities wracked by violence, though protests in most locations have been largely peaceful.
"The American people know we don't have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with African American neighbours to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns," he said. He assailed Biden for saying there is an "implicit bias" against people of colour and "systemic racism" in the US.
Absent from Pence's 37-minute speech: a direct mention of Jacob Blake, the black man who was wounded by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There was also no reference to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or other black people who have been killed by police this year, spurring a new nationwide protest movement.
As their convention nears its conclusion, Republicans are seeking to reconcile their depiction of Trump as a smooth, stable leader with the reality that the United States is facing a series of crises that include the demonstrations, a potentially catastrophic hurricane and a raging pandemic that is killing more than 1000 Americans a day.
The historic convergence of health, economic, environmental and social emergencies is only increasing the pressure on Trump, as he looks to reshape the contours of his lagging campaign against Biden with election day just 10 weeks off and early voting beginning much sooner.
The convention keynote gave Pence another opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to Trump. The Vice President, who is also the chairman of the White House coronavirus task force, defended the administration's handling of the pandemic, a political liability that was otherwise largely absent from the convention programme. He also delivered sober, encouraging words to Gulf Coast residents as Hurricane Laura neared.
"This is a serious storm," Pence said. "And we urge all those in the affected areas to heed state and local authorities. Stay safe and know that we'll be with you every step of the way to support, rescue, respond, and recover in the days and weeks ahead."
Positioning himself as a potential heir to Trump in 2024, Pence delivered sharp attacks against Biden, but also presented an optimistic vision of the country's future. He spoke from Baltimore's Fort McHenry, where an 1814 battle inspired the National Anthem — which has been at the center of a cultural debate, fueled by Trump, over athletes who kneel rather than stand in protest of racial injustice.
Trump made an unannounced appearance to join Pence after his remarks for a performance of the anthem at the fort. The President, Vice President and their wives later greeted guests, some of whom were in walkers and stood for the anthem.
Some in the crowd gathered close together to get a glimpse of the Pences and Trumps in violation of social distancing guidelines. Pence was seen shaking a greeter's hand.
While the Fort McHenry speech was orchestrated to present a grand scene, earlier portions of the programme were lower energy. The show for Americans at home lacked some of the production elements that had made previous nights memorable, including slickly produced videos and surprise announcements, such as an unexpected presidential pardon and a citizenship ceremony.
Besides Pence, there was no major headline speaker and few boldface names. George W Bush, the sole living former Republican president, isn't expected to address the convention. Mitt Romney, the party's 2012 nominee who has emerged as a Trump foe, is also absent from the line-up.
The convention unfolded after three nights of protests in Kenosha prompted Trump to issue repeated calls for Democratic Governor Tony Evers to increase the deployment of National Guard troops to help keep the peace. Trump also directed the Department of Justice to send FBI agents and US. marshals to the city as reinforcements, a day after a white 17-year-old who had been outspoken in support of police, was accused of killing two protesters and wounding another.
Many of the speakers reinforced Trump's law-and-order message, warning that electing Biden would lead to violence in cities spilling into the suburbs, a message with racist undertones. Trump's campaign believes his aggressive response will help him with suburban women who may be concerned by the protests — though it may only deepen his deficit with black voters.
The Trump campaign's focus on law enforcement continued a week-long emphasis on motivating his political base — rather than appealing to moderate voters.
An August Fox News poll found that registered voters were somewhat more likely to say they trusted Biden than Trump on handling issues related to policing and criminal justice, 48 per cent to 42 per cent, and significantly more likely to trust Biden than Trump on handling race relations, 53 per cent to 34 per cent. Biden's advantage on criminal justice issues mirrored his advantage overall.
Michael McHale, the president of the National Association of Police Organisations, told the convention, "The violence and bloodshed we are seeing in these and other cities isn't happening by chance. It's the direct result of refusing to allow law enforcement to protect our communities."
And Burgess Owens, a former NFL player now running for Congress in Utah, declared, "This November, we stand at a crossroads. Mobs torch our cities while popular members of Congress promote the same socialism that my father fought against in World War II."
The night included remarks from the president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as well as several administration officials including departing Counsellor Kellyanne Conway, the manager of Trump's 2016 general election campaign, and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
"This is the man I know and the president we need," said Conway, a week before she is to leave the White House. "He picks the toughest fights and tackles the most complex problems. He has stood by me, and he will stand up for you."
- With AP