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Former first lady Michelle Obama assailed President Donald Trump Monday night, delivering a scathing critique of the Republican president who replaced her husband as the Democrats opened their national convention. (Aug. 17)

AP Domestic

WASHINGTON — Democrats gave a vigorous defense of mail-voting Monday during the first night of the party’s virtual convention while also slamming President Donald Trump for not supporting additional funding for the United States Postal Service.

Both were go-to themes throughout the two-hour program as Democrats pushed back at what they characterized as an effort to undermine the election. 

Tactics included a video montage of ordinary Americans discussing the importance of the postal office in their daily lives and the introduction of a new phrase to describe the president’s intentions –  “defund the post office” – used by multiple speakers. They also turned to a U.S. senator whose state is one of the centers in the fight over mail-voting. 

“This year, more Americans than ever before are going to vote from rooms just like this,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, said from her home, “marking ballots from their kitchen table and exercising one of our most fundamental rights from home. But despite what the president says, voting by mail has been a secure, prudent option for decades.”

The lauding of mail-voting on Day 1 of the convention to nominate Democrat Joe Biden comes as Trump has been on a months-long crusade against voting by mail, warning without evidence that it is more fraudulent than voting in person and part of a plot by Democrats to “rig the election.”

More: Donald Trump keeps blasting ‘universal’ mail voting. But few states are planning that in November

Nevada, led by a Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled state legislature, is one of nine states that plan to mail ballots to all registered voters. Trump called the move “an illegal late night coup,” and the Trump campaign promptly sued the state seeking to overturn the plan.

“He has challenged us in court with a meritless lawsuit, one that a Republican secretary of state has asked the judge to dismiss,” Cortez Masto said. “And now he is putting the lives of Nevada’s seniors at risk by trying to defund the post office. Here’s what that means: Seniors won’t be able to get their prescriptions because he wants to win an election.

“Well, Mr. President, Nevada is not intimidated by you. America is not intimidated by you.”

Trump has said he is OK with absentee voting offered to seniors, the military, people with disabilities and others who are unable to vote in person on Election Day. But he’s said he opposes ballots “universal mail-voting” in which ballots are automatically sent to registered voters. Several states, including Nevada, expanded mail-voting for safety reasons during the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

More: ‘He’s scaring our own voters’: Republicans run into a Donald Trump problem as they push mail voting

Cortez Masto noted that “even Donald Trump” has twice requested mail ballots this year. Her remarks were kicked off by actress Eva Longoria, who served as the host of the convention’s first night.

“Here we are on a Monday night in 2020 and we need to talk about the post office – the U.S. Postal Service,” Longoria said. “It is essential to so much of our lives … And guess what? The post office is also one of the ways we cast our votes.”

Earlier Monday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Chairman of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Robert Duncan agreed to testify before the House next week amid increasing scrutiny of changes at the agency that Democrats worry may hinder the elections in November.

More: Trump’s Postmaster General DeJoy will testify before Congress about USPS changes

Trump has opposed $25 billion in additional funds for the postal service that Democrats say is critical to address the expected surge in mail ballots expected in November.  Defending his administration’s financial decisions Monday, Trump slammed the postal service as “one of the disasters of the world.”

“I’m just making it good,” he said in an interview on Fox News.

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President Donald Trump has offered conflicting statements about supplementary funding for the U.S. Postal Service.

USA TODAY

The convention’s video segment devoted to the postal service featured seniors and other workers discussing why a functioning post office is critical for them to receive prescription medicine and paychecks.

“I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma,” one woman said in the video. “Voting by mail is our only realistic option.” Another woman said, “In no way do I want my 11 grandchildren to grow up in a word where this kind of suppression exists.”

More: Michelle Obama says Trump is the ‘wrong president for our country’

Former First Lady Michelle Obama, the evening’s keynote speaker, also alluded to the president’s resistance to mail-voting as she capped off the night. 

“We have to vote for Joe Biden in numbers that cannot be ignored, because right now, folks who know they cannot win fair and square at the ballot box are doing everything they can to stop us from voting,” she said. 

“They’re closing down polling places in minority neighborhoods. They’re purging voting rolls and they’re sending out people to intimate voters and they’re lying about the security of our ballots.”

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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