Trump’s coronavirus task force briefings featuring the same Trump-centric approach were abruptly aborted months ago, only to be replaced weeks later by a more tightly scripted, shorter version still largely defined by the mainstream media’s attacks on him. With mayhem in the streets and pandemic fears on the uptick again, Joe Biden’s lead in the polls expanded to nearly double digits.

At the end of Monday night, however, the consternation and private hand-wringing seemed misplaced. The first night of the Republican convention was a dynamic rebuttal of Democrats’ attempts to cast Trump as an incompetent racist directly responsible for the 170,000 coronavirus deaths America has suffered this year.

Despite the new virtual format and all its constraints, the lineup of live speakers, interspersed with pre-packaged RNC videos and Trump interviewing everyday Americans, smoothly transitioned from one segment to the next at a lively pace and without a noticeable hitch. Republicans also proved capable of presenting compelling, real-life, and eminently relatable Americans telling heartfelt stories about why they not only believe in Donald Trump, but want him in office for another four years.