The Fox News host, who has drawn Trump’s ire for sometimes delivering less-than-favorable critiques on his preferred network, had some positive notes but seemed largely unimpressed by the address. It was held, in an unprecedented move, on the White House South Lawn, in front of a crowd of supporters with few masks being worn and no social distancing. It lasted for over an hour.
“There were impressive fireworks on the Mall. But I have to say I was surprised at the lack of fireworks in the president’s speech tonight,” Wallace said on Fox News’ panel after the convention. “First of all, it was far too long. Seventy minutes exactly. And I thought at times it felt like more a State of the Union speech, like a campaign speech.”
Wallace said that Trump went through his “considerable” accomplishments from his first term and had “some good lines” about his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, but overall was “surprisingly flat” and “didn’t seem to have the bite that he usually does.”
He said that Trump laid out an ambitious plan for his second term, referencing promises on job growth, the return of medical supply chains to the U.S. and coverage of preexisting conditions, but noted, “though, we have to point out he hasn’t done that in his first term.”
Wallace also called out the event’s failure to follow coronavirus safety guidelines.
“The fact that there were 2,000 people in close quarters, on the South Lawn there with seemingly very few with masks, no social distancing, ignoring all of the public health recommendations,” he said.
His comments prompted a slew of outraged tweets from Fox News viewers, some of whom said he “shouldn’t work for Fox” and “might as well go to CNN.”
But Wallace was not alone in his analysis. Conservative commentator and political analyst Brit Hume, too, said it was “very, very long.”
“I don’t know that any speech that is an hour and 10 minutes uninterrupted by anything visual can work very well,” he said.
He said the president does have a case, and he “made it tonight, and made it, and made it and made it.”
“He was, as Chris suggests, a little flat,” he said. “He’s done very good speeches before. But tonight he seemed to miss the excitement that he generates in himself when he’s ad-libbing.”
Last week, Biden’s closing speech when he accepted his party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention got a different reception from the same panel. Wallace said it was “an enormously effective speech” that put attacks on Biden’s mental acuity to rest. And Hume said it was “a very good speech, delivered with force and clarity.” The rave review was surprising given the network’s persistent attacks on Biden’s cognitive abilities.