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Stefanik offers bold defense of Trump in prime-time convention speech

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) addresses the Republican National Convention via video. Credit: Republican National Convention via The New York Times

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) addresses the Republican National Convention via video. Credit: Republican National Convention via The New York Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Elise Stefanik believes the country is at an existential crossroads.

“We understand that this election is a choice between the far-left Democratic socialist agenda versus protecting and preserving the American dream,” Stefanik said while delivering remarks at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night.

Stefanik fervently derided last year’s impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump as a “baseless and illegal sham,” dismissing them as partisan attacks.

“This attack was not just on the president,” Stefanik said. “It was an attack on you, your voice and your vote.”

Stefanik touted President Trump’s efforts to “safely open the Main Street economy” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.

“He understands that the engine of our country is fueled by the ingenuity and determination of American workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Stefanik said.

Trump, Stefanik said, “is the only candidate who will stand up for hardworking families and protect American dream for future generations.”

“I believe in the American dream because I’ve lived it,” said Stefanik, whose family owns a Guilderland plywood company and was the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college.

Biden, on the other hand, wants to keep small business owners “locked up in the basement and crush them with $4 trillion in new taxes,” said Stefanik, referring to the candidate’s plan to increase taxes on corporations and high-income earners.

Stefanik’s profile has risen during her defense of Trump, who called her a “rising star” following his acquittal in the U.S. Senate on impeachment charges earlier this year.

The third-term lawmaker’s full-throated defense marks a sharp reversal for Stefanik, who was reluctant to support Trump in 2016, frequently avoiding referring to the candidate by name and declining to attend the GOP convention in Cleveland.

Stefanik spoke for four minutes in a speech that briefly touched upon other career highlights, including efforts to recruit more women to the Republican Party and her status as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress when she won the sprawling North Country congressional seat in 2014 at the age of 30.

The lawmaker also mentioned Trump’s visit to Fort Drum in 2018 where he signed a defense bill, which was the first time the pair appeared together in public.

Stefanik also cycled through a highlight reel of New York’s 21st Congressional District, including the Battles of Saratoga and the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, when the U.S. Hockey Team “out-hustled, out-skated and defeated the Soviet Union.”

Trump is scheduled to deliver comments on Thursday, the final day of the four-day convention.

Stefanik is up for re-election in November and faces a challenge from Democratic candidate Tedra Cobb.

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