Rep. Lee Zeldin, in his sixth year in Congress, has emerged as one of President Trump's fiercest defenders and his most loyal New York ally. Credit: AP

Speaking at the Republican National Convention Wednesday, Rep. Lee Zeldin sought to portray President Donald Trump as delivering for Americans on the coronavirus pandemic, saying the president’s much-criticized performance actually was “phenomenal.”

Zeldin (R-Shirley), Trump’s strongest New York ally in Congress, gave a four-minute address in which he touched on doctors saving his 2-week-old daughter and segued into praising front-line medical workers and touting the Trump administration’s efforts to deliver ventilators, naval ships and speedy lab testing to help New York treat virus patients.

“During a once-in-a-century pandemic — an unforeseeable crisis sent to us from a faraway land — the president’s effort for New York was phenomenal,” Zeldin said.

The Republican’s view differs with public opinion polls showing Trump’s ratings dipping as the virus spread.

Zeldin also noted his military background as an Iraq veteran who is still a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, and said Trump has made the nation “more secure than ever before.”

Zeldin, in his sixth year in Congress, has emerged as one of Trump’s fiercest defenders and his most loyal New York ally. He served on the House Republicans’ impeachment defense team when it sought to fight charges against the president. He traveled to Oklahoma to support Trump’s campaign kickoff rally earlier this year, a controversial gathering because it was held indoors amid the quickly spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The Long Islander has been a hawk on Trump’s Israel policies, supported the president’s actions on immigration and backed his new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

But Democrats have criticized his work as a Trump surrogate, saying he’s ignoring his home district and calling him “Absentee Lee.” They are backing Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff to unseat the Republican.

Zeldin joined a long list of Long Islanders with notable speaking roles at the national political conventions, including, most recently, then-Rep. Steve Israel addressing Democrats in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2012.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

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