2020 Republican National Convention

Live Updates And Analysis


Vice President Pence capped off a night dedicated to American heroes at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Here are some highlights from the night:

Highlights From Night 3: Pence Addresses Convention, Speakers Emphasize Trump’s Character

Vice President Pence formally accepted the Republican Party’s nomination as vice president Wednesday night. In a keynote address, Pence praised President Trump’s leadership and walked through the administration’s work. He also issued strong language against Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, saying, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

Speaking to an audience at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Pence emphasized the ideological divide between the two parties.

“Last week, Joe Biden said democracy is on the ballot, but the truth is, our economic recovery is on the ballot, law and order is on the ballot. But so are things far more fundamental and foundational to our country,” Pence said. “It’s not so much whether America will be more conservative or more liberal, more Republican or more Democrat. The choice in this election is whether America remains America.”

Earlier in the night, the Republican National Convention featured speeches from prominent members of the Trump team that sought to emphasize a caring side of the president.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke about how the president supported her after she received a preventive double mastectomy.

“The same way President Trump has supported me, he supports you,” McEnany said.

Trump’s senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, also vouched for Trump’s character. “He picks the toughest fights and tackles the most complex problems. He has stood by me, and he will stand up for you,” she said.

For analysis and a post-convention recap every day this week, be sure to subscribe to The NPR Politics Podcast.

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2 Different Worlds: Racial Justice Vs. Law And Order

Politics doesn’t do nuance well. So emphasis can be everything, especially on controversial matters.

The protests against systemic racism that have taken place over the last several months have, at times, become violent. Democrats mostly focus on the root causes of those protests — the cases of police violence against Black people. That was clear at the Democrats’ convention last week.

President Trump has focused on the violence. And this week, fellow Republicans are doing the same at their convention. “The violence must stop — whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha,” Vice President Pence said tonight in his speech. He added later, “We don’t have to choose between law enforcement and supporting our African American neighbors.”

The remarks come days after Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, Wis. The shooting has led to protests and violence, with a teenager arrested on Wednesday for fatally shooting two area residents.

Blake’s shooting also led to NBA teams boycotting Wednesday’s playoff games.

The Milwaukee Bucks, one of the top teams in the league, declined to play Game 5 of their playoff series, and that set off a domino effect with other teams deciding not to play as well.

“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protesters,” the players said in a joint statement. “Despite the overwhelming pleas for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”

But that pain was not channeled at the Republican National Convention, despite the considerable number of Black men who have spoken at the convention (though the Republican Party itself is overwhelmingly white).

Instead, again, the focus was law and order, and speaker after speaker accused Democrat Joe Biden of wanting to defund the police — which is not true. Democrats, on the other hand, have struggled with how to talk about support for the police, so Republicans see that as their opening.

There’s a very clear divide right now in the United States.

“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence said.

So far, that’s an attack that appears to have not stuck. The Trump campaign even pulled an ad pushing an image of a dangerous America where you have to leave voicemails for 911 if Biden is elected.

Not only is Biden ahead of Trump in the polls, but Americans are not giving the president good marks when it comes to his handling of race relations. Majorities say he has fanned the flames of racial division.

What’s more, by a 54%-38% margin, voters say the protests are mostly legitimate rather than people acting unlawfully, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. So Democrats feel the conversation over the racial reckoning is one that most Americans feel it’s time to have. But this law and order vs. racial justice dividing line might be the sharpest one in the culture war of 2020.

Pence says to give Trump and him four more years because they “stand with those who stand on the thin blue line” and won’t “defund the police. Not now. Not ever.” The last line was met with thunderous applause.

Biden wants police reform and supports a redirection of funds.

How it’s all addressed in the short term will likely be determined, in part, by this November’s election.

Bucks players on Wednesday urged Americans to “take peaceful and responsible action, and remember, to vote on November 3rd.”

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‘We Mourn With Those Who Mourn’: Pence Takes Sympathetic Tone On Coronavirus

Vice President Pence followed the first lady’s lead in expressing sympathy for the toll taken by the coronavirus during his keynote speech tonight.

“Tonight, our hearts are with all the families who have lost loved ones,” Pence said. “We mourn with those who mourn, and we grieve with those who grieve. And this night I know millions of Americans will pause and pray for God’s comfort to each of you.”

It was a bit of a turn for an administration, including President Trump, that has been reluctant to dwell on the pain that the pandemic has caused and instead focused on returning the economy to normal.

Just before Melania Trump addressed the virus during her speech Tuesday night in the Rose Garden, President Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, during his convention speech, spoke of the virus in the past tense, stating President Trump “successfully fought” the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear what political impacts the vice president’s empathetic words will carry. Nearly 180,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and polls show that Americans largely believe Trump has handled the pandemic poorly.

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Fact check

Fact Check: Pence Falsely Implies Joe Biden Wants To Defund The Police

Evoking a dark image of a dangerous, lawless America under a Biden administration, Vice President Pence on Wednesday accused Democrat Joe Biden of seeking to cut funding from U.S. police forces, a position that Biden has vehemently denied.

“Joe Biden says America is systemically racist and that law enforcement in America has a, quote, ‘implicit bias’ against minorities. And when asked whether he’d support cutting funding to law enforcement … he replied, ‘Yes, absolutely,’ ” Pence said, echoing a more forceful falsehood employed by President Trump that accuses Biden of wanting to defund the police outright.

“The hard truth is … you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. Under President Trump, we will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line, and we’re not going to defund the police — not now, not ever,” Pence said.

Biden has repeatedly denied interest in defunding the police, a position supported by the Black Lives Matter movement, and has instead proposed a $300 million cash infusion to support community policing and employing more social workers alongside police officers.

Pence’s reference to Biden saying “yes, absolutely” came from a question about whether the former vice president agreed that some police funding could be redirected as part of police reform.

Calls to cut police funding have garnered more and higher-profile support in recent months, following the killings of several Black people by police this year.

Even as the Republican National Convention commenced, demonstrators marched to protest the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot several times in the back and left paralyzed this week by police in Kenosha, Wis.

Those demonstrations overlapped with ongoing unrest following the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks this year.

Biden has acknowledged what he describes as a pervasive system of racism prevalent throughout society, including among some police officers, but he has defended good police and said he does not believe that all officers are racist.

A July NBC/Wall Street Journal opinion poll found that 56% of Americans described American society as racist, compared with just 40% who disagreed.

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Pence Says Trump Sees America ‘For What It Is’ In Keynote Speech

Vice President Pence made the case tonight that President Trump “sees America for what it is” and will bring the country back from the coronavirus brink.

“He sees America for what it is: a nation that has done more good in this world than any other, a nation that deserves far more gratitude than grievance,” Pence said in his keynote address on the third night of the Republican National Convention. “And if you want a president who falls silent when our heritage is demeaned or insulted, then he’s not your man.”

A former Indiana governor believed to have presidential aspirations of his own, Pence leads Trump’s coronavirus task force. He dutifully plugged guidelines to slow the virus’s spread, then shifted with Trump to focus on kick-starting the economy — a central part of their argument to win reelection.

“Who do you trust to rebuild this economy? A career politician who presided over the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression? Or a proven leader who created the greatest economy in the world?” Pence said in his speech, speaking of Joe Biden’s time as vice president during the Obama administration. (Pence and Trump inherited a growing economy from the Obama administration.)

Pence, a bridge to key blocs of evangelical and conservative voters, is working to make the case that the election is a choice about “whether America remains America” or is “fundamentally transformed into something else,” rather than a referendum on Trump’s coronavirus actions.

More than 175,000 Americans have now died of COVID-19.

Pence also rejected arguments to address systemic racism in police departments and falsely claimed Biden supports campaigns to defund the police.

Read more about Pence’s speech here.

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Pence Urges Those In Path Of Hurricane Laura To ‘Stay Safe’

Vice President Pence used part of his address accepting the Republican Party’s nomination to serve as vice president to warn those in the path of Hurricane Laura to “stay safe” and pledged federal aid.

“This is a serious storm. We urge all those in the affected areas to heed state and local authorities,” Pence said in a live address at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

“Stay safe, and know that we’ll be with you every step of the way to support rescue, response and recovery in the days and weeks ahead.”

News coverage of Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that the National Hurricane Center warned could bring an “unsurvivable” storm surge, caused a split-screen experience for some on the third night of the Republican National Convention.

Weather forecasters zeroed in on southwest Louisiana, indicating that the hurricane would make landfall around the Lake Charles area.

Earlier in the day, President Trump tweeted a picture of a briefing in the Oval Office on the storm and called it “a very dangerous and rapidly intensifying hurricane.”

Political conventions in the past have been impacted by major storms — the timing of the summer events overlaps with the high season for hurricanes. The GOP delayed the kickoff of its 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla., because the city was in the path of Hurricane Isaac and there were concerns about thousands of attendees being out in the elements. The storm shifted course but forced some program changes. Four years earlier, the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., was also delayed as a hurricane headed toward landfall in Louisiana.

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Trump Needs Women’s Votes, And Republicans Are Trying To Pull Them In

A number of women speaking at the Republican National Convention tonight gave a nod to the 19th Amendment, which granted most women the right to vote, as well as the unemployment rate for women. It is all part of Republicans’ effort to appeal to women, particularly suburban women, a group among which President Trump has lost popularity.

Polling shows eroding support for the president among college-educated women; he even seems to be losing some support among white working-class women, who had been a larger part of his 2016 victory coalition.

And so on Wednesday, there was a clear message targeting women — some focused on his policies as president, others on his history as a businessman. Lara Trump pointed out that her father-in-law has filled a number of jobs in his administration with women. And female small-business ownership, she said, is at an all-time high.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, women’s unemployment hit the lowest level since World War II,” she added.

Trump’s senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, delivered a similar message that sought to validate the president’s credentials with women.

“For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government,” she said. “He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions and insists that we are on equal footing with the men.”

Earlier in the night, second lady Karen Pence also reminded voters of the historic backdrop of the day.

“One hundred years ago today, women secured the right to vote. So let’s vote, America!” she said. “Let’s reelect President Trump and Vice President Pence for four more years.”

But the president’s reputation among women is fraught, particularly given accusations of sexual misconduct leading up to the 2016 election and disparaging remarks he has made toward prominent politicians and journalists. He has a substantial disadvantage with women in polling. And the 2018 Democratic takeover of the House was largely attributed to widespread anti-Trump enthusiasm among suburban women.

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Fact check

Brewer Mischaracterizes Trump’s Statement On 2017 White Supremacist Rally

Football player Jack Brewer referenced President Trump’s now-infamous response to the deadly Unite the Right white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Va., in the summer of 2017.

Brewer claimed Trump’s remarks on the protesters had been misquoted. “Are you going to allow the media to lie to you by falsely claiming that [Trump] said, ‘There are very fine white supremacists in Charlottesville?’ He didn’t say that. It’s a lie,” Brewer said.

Trump’s actual statement after news of the violence at the rally was this: “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

So while Trump did not use the specific words that white supremacists attending the rally were “very fine people,” he attempted to parse the support from individuals not overtly identifying as neo-Nazis and white nationalists, which drew heavy criticism.

“I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned, totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK?” Trump said, according to a transcript of the news conference. In other words, the president praised the people making common cause with them at the event.

In the same news conference, Trump also went on to criticize members of the opposition protest, saying, “You got a lot of bad people in the other group too.”

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With Remarks By Henderson And Other People Of Color, An Emphasis On ‘Freedom Of Thought’

Clarence Henderson, a 1960s civil rights activist who took part in the famous Greensboro, N.C., sit-ins, spoke in glowing terms about President Trump’s record with African Americans.

“His policies show his heart. He has done more for Black Americans in four years than Joe Biden has done in 50,” Henderson said, pointing to the president’s financial support for historically Black colleges and universities, investment in opportunity zones and support for criminal justice reform.

Henderson recounted taking part in sit-ins to integrate the lunch counters at the Woolworth department store when he was a student at North Carolina A&T State University, an HBCU.

The civil rights activist, who said he’s a Republican, is one of a number of minority faces the GOP has highlighted this week during its convention.

The diversity on stage and on TV is noticeable because the Republican Party itself is not particularly diverse. Only 17% of registered Republican voters are nonwhite, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

In comparison, 40% of Democratic voters are people of color.

Recent polling shows fewer than 10% of Black voters support Trump’s reelection.

Trump has faced many accusations of racism from Democrats, but a number of the minority speakers at the Republican National Convention have made a point to explicitly insist the president is not a racist.

“I know what racism looks like. I’ve seen it firsthand,” said former NFL player Jack Brewer in the evening. “In America, it has no resemblance to President Trump — and I’m fed up with the way he’s portrayed in the media, who refuse to acknowledge what he’s actually done for the Black community.”

The target audience for these Black and brown voices is unclear: Is it white suburban women who might be reluctant to vote for Trump because of the racial unrest in the country and might be alleviated by hearing minorities who insist he’s not racist? Or is the audience other minorities who might be lukewarm about Democratic nominee Biden and need validation to support Trump?

Regardless, there seems to be an emphasis on “freedom of thought” and the need to counter the assumption that minorities are politically monolithic.

“Freedom of thought is a powerful thing,” Henderson said. “There are African American voters all over the country who the media is trying to convince to conform to the same old Democratic talking points. You know what that’ll get you? The same old results.”

On Tuesday night, Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky, delivered one of the most forceful rebukes against Biden — while referencing a reported Biden line from 2012.

“Mr. Vice President, look at me. I am Black,” Cameron said. “We are not all the same, sir. I am not in chains. My mind is my own, and you can’t tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin.”

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Interim Spy Boss Richard Grenell, Key To A GOP Counterattack On Biden, Lauds Trump

President Trump turned heads and raised fears of partisanship when he named an outspoken political supporter, Richard Grenell, to serve for a time as the government’s top intelligence official.

Grenell served only a few months as the acting director of national intelligence, but in that time he sought to reshape the leadership there. He oversaw the departure of longtime intelligence officers who were replaced by controversial experts, some of whom pushed Trump conspiracy theories.

Grenell and his camp were also critical in declassifying intelligence material from the end of the Obama administration and the early Trump administration that Republicans then picked up to use in political attacks about what they call Joe Biden’s abuse of power. The practices involved were not unlawful and Biden’s camp has denied any impropriety, but Trump’s allies have made them a theme of ongoing criticism.

On Wednesday, Grenell cited his previous experience as a U.S ambassador representing the Trump administration in Europe. Grenell said Trump is the clear choice for those who take keeping America safe seriously.

“As U.S. ambassador to Germany, I had a front-row seat to Donald Trump’s America-first foreign policy,” Grenell said. “I wish every American could see how President Trump negotiates on their behalf.”

But Grenell never seemed to stray far from controversy. During his time in Europe, he rubbed U.S. and foreign diplomats so badly that Susan Rice, the former ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama administration, once called Grenell, “one of the most nasty, dishonest people I’ve ever encountered.”

But he also advocated for a push to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide and said that he had the support of Republicans and religious conservatives, according to MSNBC.

At the time, he was the most prominent openly gay diplomat in the Trump administration.

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Lara Trump Says Trump Will ‘Keep America America’

President Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, called for further mobilization against the Democratic Party heading into November, calling the election “the most critical election in modern history.”

“This is not just a choice between Republican and Democrat or left and right — this is an election that will decide if we keep America America or if we head down an uncharted, frightening path towards socialism,” said Lara Trump, who currently serves as an adviser for President Trump’s campaign.

Lara Trump also invoked many of the same political culture messages that the president promotes in his speeches.

“We cannot dare to dream our biggest dreams — for ourselves or for our children — while consumed by worry about the safety of our families. President Trump is the law and order president — from our borders to our backyards,” she said.

Lara Trump is married to Eric Trump, who addressed the convention Tuesday night and dedicated a significant portion of his speech to touting his father’s presidential accomplishments.

“Every day, my father fights for the American people. The forgotten men and women of this country. The ones who embody the American spirit, which is unlike anything else in the world,” Eric Trump said.

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Sen. Joni Ernst Portrays Stark Choice For America’s Heartland

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst touted President Trump’s record of supporting farms, agriculture and environmental deregulation to cast the election as a choice between heartland growth and radical environmentalism that would destroy it.

Ernst, who is running for reelection in one of the tightest races in the country, cast the choice as a dire binary between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris.

“Freedom, prosperity and economic growth under a Trump-Pence administration,” Ernst said. “Or the Biden-Harris path, paved by liberal coastal elites and radical environmentalists. An America where farmers are punished, jobs are destroyed and taxes crush the middle class.”

Ernst listed Trump policies that directly benefit Iowa, including expanded ethanol sales, easing of waterway regulations that impact farm runoff and a recent emergency declaration to aid recovery after devastating storms ripped through the state this month.

Ernst is running in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country. Her seat is considered a toss-up in an election where Democrats hope to win at least four seats to take control of the Senate.

Appearing at the convention in a featured speaking role ties Ernst’s image closer to Trump at a time when polling shows the president in a tight race against Biden in Iowa.

Ernst was elected in 2018 to a top Republican leadership position in the Senate that has elevated her profile in Washington. She is the highest-ranking GOP woman in the upper chamber and has at times attempted to distance herself from Trump. She has defended whistleblower protections, opposed Trump’s ban on transgender troops in the military and has distanced herself from his aggressive approach toward ongoing nationwide protests against social and racial injustice.

Ernst is an Army National Guard veteran who is the first woman to represent Iowa in the Senate.

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New Mexico Widower Grieving For Slain Wife Embodies GOP’s ‘Law And Order’ Theme

Sam Vigil is a widower who lost his wife, Jacqueline, when she was shot to death at the couple’s Albuquerque, N.M., home. Her case went unsolved for eight months.

This month, law enforcement officials said several suspects have been identified in Jacqueline Vigil’s death.

“I am extremely grateful to President Trump and the FBI for their efforts to deliver justice for Jackie and all the other innocent victims of violent crime,” Vigil said in his convention remarks. “I am honored to support the president, because he is supporting us.”

In November, Jacqueline Vigil was sitting in the couple’s garage when she was shot to death. A few days ago, police said they made several arrests in the case.

In July, Sam Vigil appeared at the White House alongside Trump as part of an event focused on violent crime. Vigil said he heard the commotion from his garage after his wife had attempted to leave to go to the gym one early morning.

“To this day, I can’t forget that. You know, every — every time I go to bed, every time I go out into the driveway, that memory comes back, and it haunts me,” Sam Vigil said at the time. “And Jackie, my wife, did not deserve to be killed that way. Nobody does, you know?”

Trump hosted Vigil and other victims of violent crime as part of an event to launch Operation Legend, named for LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old Missouri boy who was shot to death this year. Trump said the operation would focus on ways in which he says the federal government can help stamp out violent crime.

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New York Rep. Stefanik Toes Trump Line, Calling Impeachment ‘Illegal’

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik cast President Trump as a leader under attack from the media, Democrats and the far left.

Stefanik, who is seen by fellow House Republicans as a future leader in the party, focused her taped remarks on Trump’s impeachment in the House in December, calling it “Democrats’ baseless and illegal impeachment sham.”

Some Republicans, including Trump, have argued that the House impeachment process was improper because the charges in the articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — are not statutory crimes.

However, Democrats and many legal scholars have argued that the standards for impeachment are not the same as criminal standards.

Stefanik embraced Trump’s argument, saying the American people were not swayed by impeachment.

“I was proud to lead the effort standing up for the Constitution, President Trump and, most importantly, the American people,” Stefanik said. “This attack was not just on the president; it was an attack on you — your voice and your vote.”

She was 30 when she was first elected in 2014, the youngest Republican woman ever elected to Congress.

In recent years, she has dedicated herself to electing more GOP women. Stefanik ran recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2018. She recruited a record 100 women to run that year, but Republicans sustained huge losses in the House in that election. Stefanik left the NRCC shortly afterward to start a political action committee dedicated to electing more Republican women.

Her organization, Elevate PAC, or E-PAC, is supporting 23 women running in races across the U.S. in 2020.

Currently 13 Republican women are in the House of Representatives, and GOP women account for fewer than 3% of Congress.

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Fact check

Biden’s Stance On Abortion Challenged

Sister Dede Byrne, speaking in her nun’s habit, warned that the Democratic presidential nominee would be a threat to the “sanctity of life.”

“President Trump will stand up against Biden-Harris, who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide.”

But Biden has not explicitly expressed support for late-term abortions. He wants to codify Roe v. Wade and reup federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

During his political career, Biden, a practicing Catholic, has undergone a personal evolution on abortion rights. During the early primary cycle, some on the progressive left of his own party questioned his longtime support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans taxpayer-supported health care programs from utilizing federal funds for abortions. (In June 2019, Biden reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment.)

As of 2019, public support for legal abortion remains at the highest level witnessed since the Pew Research Center began polling on the issue two decades ago. A majority of Americans (61%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Still, in recent years, conservatives have been urging the Supreme Court to pick up the issue again and overturn Roe v. Wade. (In the most recent term, the court handed abortion-rights advocates a victory in a Louisiana abortion case.)

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Chen Guangcheng, Critic Of Beijing, Underscores Trump’s Souring On China

The appearance of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng on the RNC stage tonight reflects the Trump administration’s hardened approach against China, which has shifted from a mutual admiration society with President Xi Jinping to direct blame of the communist government for the spread of the coronavirus.

“It is threatening the well-being of the world,” Chen said of the communist government Wednesday.

President Trump calls the pandemic the direct fault of what he calls Chinese government mendacity, and he also has blasted Beijing’s economic program as one bent on stealing American jobs and innovation. Trump also has called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” and the “China virus,” which has drawn criticism from China as well as from Chinese Americans and Asian Americans.

Chen, a lawyer and fellow at Catholic University, not only has spoken out against authoritarianism in China but has charged that the pandemic proves it is dangerous to public health.

“All you need to do is look at the images and words of brave citizens in Wuhan who have responded by passing on firsthand information about the epidemic to their compatriots and the outside world,” Chen wrote in a Washington Post op-ed during the early stages of the crisis. “They are doing this at great risk to themselves. They know they potentially face reprisal for the heroic act of simply sharing the truth.”

The get-tough approach has turned into a key campaign issue. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also attacked the Chinese Communist Party for its “predatory aggression.”

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, Americans in both major parties are now more likely to see China in a negative light, but Republicans are more likely than Democrats to express skepticism across a range of measures.

The survey found that 83% of Republicans say they have an unfavorable view of China, compared with 68% of Democrats.

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Goya CEO’s Speech Canceled

A speech from the chief executive of Goya Foods that would likely have remarked on cancel culture appears to have been, well, canceled, after his scheduled speaking slot was skipped over on Wednesday night.

Robert Unanue, the food-brand president whose glowing praise of President Trump in July sparked calls to boycott the company, did not address the third night of the Republican National Convention when expected. A media report, citing the Trump campaign, blamed a “logistical problem.”

Unanue has been painted by Republicans as a victim of “cancel culture,” the practice of withdrawing support from or shaming public figures and companies, which has recently become a favorite boogeyman of the political right.

Despite his public rebuke of the practice, Trump has himself routinely attempted to get people and products canceled, including the NFL, various news organizations he has deemed unfair and, most recently, Goodyear tires.

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Black Former NFL Player Defends Trump On Race Issues

Jack Brewer, a former pro football player, defended President Trump’s record on race and criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brewer is one of three Black former NFL players to speak at this year’s Republican convention. His remarks were thrown in doubt after charges of insider trading were revealed on Tuesday.

— NPR Staff
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Controversial Newcomer Cawthorn Calls On Americans To ‘Be A Radical For Freedom’

Twenty-five-year-old Madison Cawthorn has had quite the year. In June, he handily defeated President Trump’s pick in the Republican primary runoff for a western North Carolina congressional seat.

In a move that will no doubt boost his campaign, Cawthorn was given a slot at Night 3 of the Republican National Convention, where he blasted the Democratic Party and praised President Trump’s leadership.

“In 2020, our country has a choice. We can give up on the American idea, or we can work together to make our imperfect union more perfect and choose to fight for the future, to seek the high ground and retake the shining city on a hill. While the radical left wants to dismantle, defund and destroy, Republicans, under President Trump’s leadership, want to rebuild, restore and renew,” Cawthorn said in prepared remarks. “The American idea my ancestors fought for during the Revolutionary War is as exciting and revolutionary today as it was 250 years ago. I say to Americans who love our country — young and old — be a radical for freedom. Be a radical for liberty. Be a radical for our republic.”

In the primary, Cawthorn beat out Lynda Bennett, a real estate agent who had a sizable fundraising advantage and the support of the man vacating his seat: Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows. She also had a string of high-profile Republican endorsements, including from Trump himself, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.

Cawthorn took a page out of the 2016 Trump playbook and used Bennett’s endorsements against her, labeling her the establishment choice. He campaigned as being “pro-Trump, pro-life and pro-Second Amendment” and said he would usher in a new generation of voters as one of the youngest candidates to run for office. Upon winning, Cawthorn released a statement appealing to Trump, saying the primary was not “a referendum on the president’s influence.”

Trump has welcomed those appeals, and the president praised Cawthorn during a stop at Flavor First Growers & Packers in Mills River, N.C., on Monday.

Cawthorn is early in his political career but is no stranger to controversy. He made headlines when he called the Asheville City Council’s plans to provide reparations for its Black residents “racist.”

“600,000 Americans gave their lives to free slaves, and you’re going to tell me that’s not enough?” he asked during an interview with Blue Ridge Public Radio. “I don’t believe that reparations are necessary, because I believe America already paid the price for [African Americans’] freedom.”

Cawthorn also has recently been hit with allegations from multiple women about aggressive sexual behavior.

As the Citizen Times reported, John Hart, a PR consultant working with the Cawthorn campaign, released a statement in response to the allegations, writing, “There’s a big difference between a failed teenage romantic advance and being forceful, to the extent that’s possible when you’re a paraplegic.”

A major car accident in 2014 left Cawthorn paralyzed from the waist down.

Cawthorn also generated controversy when a 2017 Instagram post resurfaced showing the candidate visiting Adolf Hitler’s vacation house in Germany.

“The vacation house of the Führer. Seeing the Eagles Nest has been on my bucket list for awhile, it did not disappoint. Strange to hear so many laughs and share such a good time with my brother where only 79 years ago a supreme evil shared laughs and good times with his compatriots,” the caption reads.

His Democratic opponent, Moe Davis, tweeted, “Hitler’s vacation retreat is not on my bucket list.”

Cawthorn shared a video in response: “My opponent’s suggesting that I, a man in a wheelchair, would celebrate a barbaric, genocidal and supremely evil regime that specifically targeted disabled people.”

He has since given interviews in which he denounced white nationalism.

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Police Union Chief Blames Elected Officials For Ongoing Unrest

Michael McHale, president of the National Association of Police Organizations, defended law enforcement and their actions during a Wednesday address to the Republican National Convention as heated protests against racism and police violence continue across the country.

“I’m proud that the overwhelming majority of American police officers are the best of the best and put their lives on the line without hesitation. And good officers need to know their elected leaders and the department brass have their backs,” said McHale, a retired police officer.

In his telling, the demonstrations that followed the death of George Floyd earlier this year — some of which have resulted in deaths, damage and injuries — are the fault of softness by authorities.

“The violence and bloodshed we are seeing in these and other cities isn’t happening by chance; it’s the direct result of elected leaders refusing to allow law enforcement to protect our communities.”

McHale made his address as demonstrators across the country have taken to the streets to protest the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot several times in the back and left paralyzed this week by police in Kenosha, Wis.

Blake’s shooting was just the most recent high-profile instance of what critics say is police brutality against Black people, following the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks earlier this year.

McHale’s tone supports Republicans’ and President Trump’s messaging about a police system that, in their view, has been unfairly maligned and crippled by mostly Democratic local leadership.

Trump has declared himself the “law-and-order president,” and has made courting law enforcement approval a top priority in his reelection strategy. That position has brought him sharp criticism, particularly in recent months, as Trump has endorsed brutal police tactics, including the use of pepper spray and rubber bullets, against often peaceful protesters. Even before this year’s demonstrations, Trump liked to talk tough to police audiences, including in remarks in which he told officers “not to be too nice.”

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Fierce Trump Defender Kellyanne Conway Delivers A Swan Song Speech

Kellyanne Conway made history in 2016 as the first woman to manage a winning presidential campaign, leading President Trump into the White House. Once there, she became one of the most pugilistic defenders of his agenda, doing battle time and again with the media.

Tonight, Conway — wearing suffragette white — didn’t pass up the chance for a few subtle parting shots against the left in a swan song speech at the Republican National Convention.

“For many of us, ‘women’s empowerment’ is not a slogan. It comes not from strangers on social media or sanitized language in a corporate handbook,” she said.

Conway is leaving the White House, she says to deal with an unusually public family drama. Her husband, conservative lawyer George Conway, is an outspoken critic of Trump. One of their four teenagers became a star on TikTok and Twitter with her own critiques of the administration — and of her parents.

On Sunday, Conway said her kids needed “less drama, more mama,” and her husband and daughter also said they would take a break from social media. “I’m not leaving the arena permanently,” she told reporters. “I will announce future plans.”

In her convention speech, Conway thanked Trump for his support, and credited him for empowering women who work for him. “He picks the toughest fights and tackles the most complex problems. He has stood by me, and he will stand up for you,” she said.

Conway said Trump had helped her “shatter a barrier in the world of politics” — a dig at his 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, who talked about putting cracks in the “highest, hardest glass ceiling” when she vied to become the first female president.

In her time at the White House, Conway played a central part in the administration’s efforts to quell the opioid epidemic, which has killed tens of thousands of Americans in recent years. She also played a starring role in defending Trump on television, famously coining the term “alternative facts” to explain why the White House said Trump’s inaugural crowds were larger than they actually were.

Asked by reporters on Wednesday about her relative longevity in a White House defined by high turnover, Conway quipped: “I am undaunted, and unindicted — that helps.”

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GOP Showcases Byrne, Other Vets In Bid For National Security Bona Fides

Catholic missionary surgeon Deirdre Byrne is talking about what she calls President Trump’s opposition to abortion rights, but she’s sending another message tonight too, along with several other speakers: Military veterans are Republicans and they support Trump.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas; retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.; Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and even former football coach Lou Holtz also are among the veterans on tonight’s agenda. Each one has her or his own remarks, some of which don’t directly bear on their past service or Trump’s national security bona fides, but their collection on Wednesday during the “law and order” pageant isn’t a coincidence. Republicans feel confident about the ground they hold on defense and national security and they want to show it.

The GOP has felt that way a long time but the old rules are changing, and a number of current or former Republican or other national security professionals in Washington said in 2016 and again this year they consider Trump to be unfit to serve as commander in chief. Recently, more than 70 people inside the family signed a new statement explaining why they believe that’s so.

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Karen Pence, Wife Of Vice President, Praises Military Service Members And Families

Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Pence, took the stage Wednesday evening for a speech focused on the work of the country’s armed forces and their spouses. She called them heroes.

Pence ended her speech by thanking Americans who have worked in essential professions during the pandemic.

“In these difficult times, we’ve all seen so many examples of everyday Americans reaching out a hand to those in need. Those who in humility have considered others more important than themselves. We’ve seen health care workers, teachers, first responders, mental health providers, law enforcement officers, grocery and delivery workers and farmers, and so many others. Heroes all.”

Pence has taken part in several events to support veteran families while second lady.

Pence is a career elementary school educator and artist. She has taught for 25 years. She currently works as a part-time art teacher at a private Christian school in Northern Virginia that openly prohibits LGBTQ people from attending or teaching there. She has worked at the school for 12 years.

The school plans to hold all its classes in person this fall, notwithstanding concerns about the coronavirus; other Northern Virginia schools and those elsewhere have opted for more online instruction. In a recent interview, Pence said she was “excited” about returning to work.

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‘Blown Away’: White House Press Secretary Showcases Trump’s Softer Side

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday presented a softer side of her boss, President Trump, highlighting her past health struggles and her experience as a working mother.

“Most of you know me as a supporter of President Trump, but tonight I’m here to share with you how he supported me — both as a new mom and as an American with a preexisting condition,” McEnany said.

In 2018, McEnany, a vocal Trump supporter since mid-2015, underwent a preventative double mastectomy, citing a family history of breast cancer.

“During one of my most difficult times, I expected to have the support of my family, but I had more support than I knew. As I came out of anesthesia, one of the first calls I received was from Ivanka Trump,” she said.

“As I recovered, my phone rang again. It was President Trump, calling to check on me. I was blown away. Here was the leader of the free world caring about me.”

McEnany’s remarks, along with those of Trump’s wife and children, represent the campaign’s effort to show a gentler side of the president, while Trump has himself focused on presenting a tough public persona.

“Though I didn’t personally know the president at the time, I know him well now and I can tell you that this president loves the American people, stands by Americans with preexisting conditions,” McEnany said.

“The same way President Trump has supported me, he supports you,” she said.

McEnany, who prior to aligning herself with Trump had described some of his remarks as “racist” and “hateful,” on Wednesday called her support of Trump the easiest decision she has ever made.

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School Choice Advocate Whose Son Met Trump Touts Republican Line On Issue

School choice advocate Tera Myers shared her family’s experience with a public school system in Ohio, recounting how she was dissatisfied with the education opportunities afforded to her son Samuel, who has Down syndrome.

“When I inquired about functional learning, I was told, ‘This is all you get,’ like it or not,” she said. “Well, I did not like it. One size did not fit all.”

Myers described how she lobbied state lawmakers to pass a special needs scholarship in 2011 so that students could receive more specialized education.

Myers was later appointed to the Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities and participated in a 2019 education roundtable with President Trump at the White House.

“Last December, Samuel was invited to the White House to meet our president and share his thoughts on education freedom,” Myers shared. “He said, ‘School choice helped my dreams come true. My school taught me the way I learn best. I was able to fit in. I made many friends. I became a part of my community. My teachers helped me become the best I can be.’ 

“President Trump shook my hand and said, ‘Wonderful job, mom. Your son is amazing,’ “Myers said, choking up.

Myers’ remarks tonight highlight a broader issue for the Republican Party: school choice. In the convention’s first night of programming, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina also addressed the issue.

“I don’t care if it’s a public, private, charter, virtual or home school,” he said. “When a parent has a choice, their kid has a better chance.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who comes from a family of billionaire philanthropists who started charter schools in their home state of Michigan, has long championed school choice. In 2019, alongside Republican lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz, she announced a proposed tax credit that would go toward donations to private school scholarships and other school choice initiatives.

But the Trump administration hasn’t moved much in terms of additional legislation that would expand tuition tax credits or school vouchers.

Critics of DeVos say she has used the response to the coronavirus pandemic to promote the public funding of religious and private schools.

In June, DeVos signaled she was standing firm on her intention to route millions of dollars from the CARES Act rescue package to private schools.

“There is nothing in the law Congress passed that would allow districts to discriminate against children and teachers based on private school attendance and employment,” DeVos said.

The move came nearly two months after the Education Department issued controversial guidance that suggested private schools should benefit from a representative share of the emergency aid.

Meanwhile, President Trump has said that if his administration passes a larger school aid package, some of the money may go directly to families in the form of “microgrants” to support homeschool, in cases where school districts haven’t reopened in person due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Blackburn Attacks Democratic Ticket For ‘Canceling’ Military And Law Enforcement

Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn thanked the heroes on the front line during the coronavirus pandemic but pivoted to attacking the Democratic ticket, which she said was “canceling” the military and law enforcement.

“Leftists try to turn them into villains. They try to ‘cancel’ them. But I’m here to tell you that heroes can’t be canceled,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn, a conservative who has been a reliable vote for President Trump’s agenda on Capitol Hill, repeated a false talking point other Republican speakers have made that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would defund the police. But Biden has publicly opposed the notion that police departments should be defunded and has proposed more federal resources for community policing.

She also asserted that Democrats want to use the government to “control” Americans — an allusion to steps taken during the pandemic. “They close our churches but keep the liquor stores and abortion clinics open. They say we can’t gather in groups at church but encourage protests, riots and looting in the streets.”

But Blackburn didn’t note that local and state governments are the entities making decisions — based on federal guidelines drafted by the Trump administration.

Blackburn was one of many female speakers featured on Wednesday night’s GOP convention lineup and is one of just nine Republican women serving in the Senate. She was elected in 2018 when Democrats’ strategy to field a record number of female candidates helped them win back the House majority. This year, a record number of female Republican candidates have mounted bids for Congress.

Blackburn didn’t make her gender an issue in that campaign. She was elected to the House in 2002 and regularly said she preferred to be addressed as congressman instead of congresswoman. Her home state was the final of the 36 states needed to ratify the 19th Amendment 100 years ago. First lady Melania Trump marked the milestone in her address on Tuesday.

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‘We Must Become The Heroes’: Rep. Crenshaw Hails Power Of Individuals

Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw lauded the heroism and courage of the United States when faced with adversity, including the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We must become the heroes we so admire,” Crenshaw said. “America was built by them; our future will be protected by them.”

He also noted President Trump’s efforts to help boost U.S. military funding.

Crenshaw is a first-term congressman representing a Houston-area district and is considered a rising star in the Republican Party.

In 2012, the Navy SEAL veteran lost his right eye in combat while serving in Afghanistan. Crenshaw was injured as a result of an improvised explosive device and wears an eye patch. He retired from the military in 2016 and then earned a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Crenshaw gained widespread attention shortly before his election to Congress when he became entangled in a public feud with Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson. Davidson had made fun of Crenshaw’s eye injury.

Days later, Crenshaw, as congressman-elect, appeared alongside Davidson to get a public apology, and the two made a joint statement about civility regardless of politics.

But Crenshaw hasn’t escaped controversy himself as he has supported some of Trump’s stances. For example, he became the target of criticism when he claimed the left was using the coronavirus to scare the public and was accused of spreading misinformation. Tonight, though, he used the pandemic as an example of everyday heroism — referencing nurses aiding COVID-19 patients and parents taking on teaching duties with their children at home.

In another recent controversy, Crenshaw criticized another combat veteran in Congress, Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, over her position on protesters opposed to some monuments this summer. Duckworth, who lost both her legs when an Army helicopter pilot, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq. Duckworth had previously defended Crenshaw during his initial spat with Davidson.

Crenshaw is facing a challenge for his seat from Sima Ladjevardian, a Houston-area attorney and former Beto O’Rourke adviser. The Cook Political Report currently rates the district “likely Republican.”

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Democratic Cities Are Being ‘Overrun By Violent Mobs,’ South Dakota Gov. Noem Says

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem spoke this evening about what she calls the Republican Party’s proud focus on “individual rights and self-government,” praised the work of President Trump as fighting for “the common American” and criticized Democrats as “radical.”

Noem, who’s considered a rising political star in the GOP, touched on the protests over racial injustice, and sporadic violence, in many cities across the country.

“It took 244 years to build this great nation — flaws and all — but we stand to lose it in a tiny fraction of that time if we continue down the path taken by the Democrats and their radical supporters,” she said in taped remarks. “From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. The violence is rampant; there’s looting, chaos, destruction and murder. People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t, good hardworking Americans, are left to fend for themselves.”

Noem has been in the news a few times in recent months.

Trump delivered a speech at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, in South Dakota, the day before the Fourth of July. Trump’s address was followed by fireworks, a controversial move given that pyrotechnics had been banned in the park for over 10 years because of environmental concerns. Noem played a large role in coordinating the $350,000 fireworks show, which was paid for by the state.

The outdoor events notably did not require attendees to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

In April, Noem pushed back on issuing a state stay-at-home order, even as coronavirus cases climbed, arguing that it was an infringement on people’s rights. The state never went on to issue a lockdown order and has few current public health restrictions in place to combat the virus.

In early August, the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was held in South Dakota, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to the state. Noem supported holding the event.

“So we know we can have these events, give people information, let them protect their health but still enjoy their way of life and enjoy events like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally,” she said. “We hope people come. Our economy benefits when people come and visit us.”

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that approximately 100 coronavirus infections in eight states have since been tied back to the rally.

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Kellogg, National Security Adviser To Pence, Endorses Him And Vice Versa

Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to the vice president, urged voters to reelect President Trump on Wednesday, in part by declaring that the United States is safer with Trump and Pence at the helm.

”I have been in the room where it happened. I saw only one agenda. And one guiding question when tough calls had to be made,” Kellog said. “Is this decision right for America?”

Kellogg served as acting national security adviser to Trump for a brief period after the resignation of Michael Flynn, who became embroiled in the Russia imbroglio.

Kellogg also was among a handful of top national security officials who listened in on the now-infamous July 25, 2019, phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president. Trump responded to his counterpart’s desire for more U.S. military aid with a request for a favor: an investigation into then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. During congressional hearings on the call, Kellog rejected a colleague’s claim that the call was “inappropriate.”

“I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call. I had and have no concerns,” Kellog said in a statement in November.

Kellogg served two tours during the Vietnam War, where he earned the Silver and Bronze Star medals. He was commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, the All Americans, from 1997 to 1998.

Kellog said on Wednesday his experience taught him about what sacrifice means. He credited President Trump with, he said, reversing what they called the decline of the military by increasing military spending.

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As Kenosha, Wis., Protests, Hurricane Laura Dominate News, Will RNC Weigh In?

The nature of virtual conventions has necessitated chunks of programming to be prerecorded, which can make last-minute adjustments difficult. But with two major national stories on the minds of many Americans — the shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin and an impending hurricane — some live speakers may adjust their remarks to react to the news of the day.

In the program’s opening, Rabbi Aryeh Spero offered a prayer to people on the Gulf Coast in the path of the storm.

Wednesday marks the third consecutive night of protests in Kenosha, Wis., after a video showing the shooting of a Black resident, Jacob Blake, by police went viral and sparked widespread outrage and anguish.

Gov. Tony Evers, who delivered remarks during the Democratic National Convention last week, said there would be a “limited mobilization” of the Wisconsin National Guard in Kenosha.

“Every person should be able to express their anger and frustration by exercising their First Amendment rights and report on these calls to action without any fear of being unsafe,” Evers said.

President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he would be “sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER,” a theme that Vice President Pence has been expected to explore during his evening address. Speaking to reporters at the White House earlier in the afternoon, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she couldn’t comment on whether Pence plans to address the shooting and protests in his remarks.

“I haven’t seen his remarks recently, but obviously that is the news of the day,” she said.

Trump is not scheduled to speak tonight, but in a statement, spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said, “President Trump condemns violence in all forms and believes we must protect all Americans from chaos and lawlessness.”

In response to the events in Kenosha, the NBA announced that all three playoff games slated for Wednesday are postponed.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center warns that Hurricane Laura is intensifying as it closes in on the northwest Gulf Coast. The hurricane is expected to bring extreme winds exceeding 120 mph and a “catastrophic” storm surge to parts of Texas and Louisiana starting Wednesday night.

The coronavirus pandemic is complicating efforts to safely provide shelter to evacuees in places like Austin, Texas.

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Pence To Use Baltimore Historical Site For RNC Speech, Stirring More Controversy

For President Trump and his administration, visits to Baltimore’s Fort McHenry aren’t without controversy.

This time, some have raised concerns that the historical site is being used for political gain as it plays host to Vice President Pence’s convention speech tonight. And preparations for the event resulted in damage to a walkway at Fort McHenry, which is maintained by the National Park Service.

Fort McHenry was the scene of a key confrontation in the War of 1812 as Americans fended off the British. A flag raised there in 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, which has asked the park service to address those concerns, said Fort McHenry and other parks should be enjoyed by Americans regardless of party affiliation or politics. It called the move inappropriate.

“It is relatively rare, if not unprecedented, for the National Park Service (NPS) to use parks as staging areas for partisan political campaign events,” Phil Francis, the group’s chair, said in a statement this week. “We are very concerned about the appropriateness of such use.”

National Park Service spokeswoman Stephanie Roulett confirmed to NPR that during setup for the event, parts of a brick walkway were damaged by a forklift. Roulett also noted that the organization that was given the event’s permit, the Maryland Republican Party, will be liable for the damages and related repair costs.

Pence is expected to speak from a stage built for the event, and other infrastructure has been added to transmit his address.

This year, Trump visited the site during a subdued Memorial Day holiday as the nation’s toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to rise. Before the event, Baltimore city leaders raised concerns he shouldn’t come. The local officials said Trump should stay home, as he could be violating the city’s state-at-home order at the time.

Previous politicians have also held events at the site, including President Ronald Reagan’s tribute to Flag Day in 1985 and then a 2011 visit by former Republican vice presidential nominee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The controversy over the use of Fort McHenry comes as the Trump campaign blurs the lines between official government business and campaign activities during the convention, raising questions about potential violations of federal ethics law.

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No Evidence Supporting Trump’s Mail Ballot Warnings, FBI Says

The FBI says it has no evidence of any coordinated fraud schemes related to voting by mail this year, undercutting repeated claims by President Trump and his camp about what they’ve called security problems.

That disclosure was made in an election security briefing for reporters on Wednesday by high-ranking officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Normally such a statement would not be notable, since election officials and experts have long said there is no widespread fraud issue in American elections.

But Trump, supporters and aides, including Attorney General William Barr, have cast doubt on the security of mail ballots as it has become clear that more than half of voters may use them to vote this election season in response to the coronavirus disaster.

Trump and Barr have said that they think foreign countries could attempt to counterfeit ballots and send them in to interfere with counting and that mail-voting expansions will be “ripe with fraud” and a way for Democrats to “steal the election from the Republicans.”

But national security officials rejected those theories in the Wednesday briefing, saying they have not seen a coordinated fraud effort and noting how difficult such an effort would be, considering the decentralized nature of U.S. elections.

Read more here.

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With Black Former NFL Players As Speakers, Convention Is Heavy On Football

Updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

It’s hard to miss the connections to football in this week’s Republican National Convention.

Most notably, some of the event’s Black speakers are former NFL players.

On Monday, Herschel Walker, a two-time Pro Bowl running back, spoke about his long friendship with President Trump and defended him against charges of racism.

“I take it as a personal insult that people would think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist,” said Walker, who first met the president in the 1980s, when Walker played for the Trump-owned New Jersey Generals in the short-lived USFL.

Tonight, Burgess Owens, a former pro football safety, will give remarks. Jack Brewer, a former NFL player and member of Black Voices for Trump, was also set to speak, but was not included on the latest speaker list. The Trump campaign would not confirm whether he’s set to speak or not. Brewer was charged with insider trading this month, NPR’s Tom Dreisbach reported yesterday.

Owens is also not without controversy. The Republican nominee for what’s considered a toss-up congressional race in Utah has faced criticism for appearing on a YouTube show tied to the baseless, far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. (A spokesman said Owens didn’t know about the show’s ties to QAnon.) Owens has also been accused of plagiarizing passages in his 2018 book.

The remarks by the Black former NFL players are part of the Republican convention’s programming to highlight speakers more diverse than the party’s largely white base. Trump himself won just 8% of the Black vote in 2016, per exit polls, and most Americans say he has made race relations worse, but his campaign is trying to win over Black voters, especially in swing states.

Trump has often waded into the world of sports, pushing in the spring to reopen paused sports leagues, for instance, and loudly criticizing then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. (Walker, Brewer and Owens have echoed Trump’s criticism of Kaepernick, who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016.)

Another speaker tonight has a football background: Lou Holtz, the longtime college coach who has been an advocate for sports to resume this fall. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who spoke at the convention Monday, has made a similar argument, tweeting this month: “America needs college football.”

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Vice President Pence, Trump’s Loyal Wingman, Speaks Tonight

When Vice President Pence speaks to the Republican National Convention from Baltimore’s Fort McHenry on Wednesday, he will aim to leverage his conservative bona fides to make the case that President Trump is a stronger choice for the economy and law and order than his Democratic opponent.

It’s the kind of message this loyal wingman has hammered home time and again with evangelical Christians, social conservatives and mainstream Republicans who have become part of the voting base for Trump, a former reality star and real estate developer.

In many ways, Pence takes on the role of Trump translator, helping temper and reshape the president’s bombast into more measured language that is palatable to Middle America.

“Basically he’s been Trump’s bridge to the evangelical community as well as to the Midwest,” said Paul Helmke, the former mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., and a Republican who has known Pence for more than two decades.

The Trump campaign is putting Pence’s Midwestern sensibilities to work again to assure Republicans that the president is a man of faith and a better choice to look out for their interests than Joe Biden.

“Vice President Pence is President Trump’s top asset on the campaign trail,” said Ken Farnaso, a spokesman for the campaign. “It’s undeniable that his retail-style politics is complementary to the president.”

When coronavirus restrictions stopped Trump’s massive rallies, Pence quietly kept up political travel and fundraising. This work has taken him through 27 states since October, including multiple visits to key Southern and Midwestern states.

On Friday, Pence will headline campaign events in Michigan and Minnesota, and on Saturday he will deliver a commencement speech at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Read more about the vice president’s relationship with Trump here.

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Convention Offers Early Glimpse At Potential 2024 GOP Field

For both parties, national political conventions can serve as launchpads for young party talent. It was of course the 2004 Democratic National Convention where a young state senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, got his first big start on the national stage.

And so, it’s no surprise that several potential 2024 Republican hopefuls feature prominently in this week’s convention lineup.

Each night this week has featured the Trump family, and of all of President Trump’s children, Donald Trump Jr. is seen as most likely of the bunch to follow his father in seeking the presidency. While Trump Jr. had only a small campaign role in 2016, he has become a key surrogate this time around, traveling the U.S. before the coronavirus pandemic as a highly requested campaign speaker.

Trump Jr. has been one of the most vocal defenders of his father on social media, where he has attracted a massive following — particularly among the right wing of the Republican Party. On Night 1 of the convention, he offered a fiery defense of his father, accusing Democrats of being too politically correct to blame China for the coronavirus.

Offering a stark contrast to Trump Jr.’s appeal to base voters, Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott offered appeals to center-right voters that hinged more on their personal stories than appealing to voters’ fears.

Haley served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Trump before she resigned from the role. Before that, she served two terms as a popular governor of South Carolina. She was an early Trump critic during the 2016 primary contest, but since then she has walked a fine line between embracing the president and preserving her appeal with anti-Trump Republicans.

Scott, also from South Carolina and the only Black Republican in the Senate, touted his work with the president on passing criminal justice reform.

Both Haley and Scott focused on their personal stories — and represent a breed of Republican politics that could be more palatable to a wider electorate come 2024. Haley talked about being the daughter of Indian immigrants and her experience as a “brown girl in a Black and white world.” Scott talked about how his family “went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is widely seen as laying the groundwork for a presidential bid. The former congressman — who served briefly as director of the CIA — declined to run for the Senate in Kansas this cycle. On Tuesday night, he delivered a norm-breaking speech from Jerusalem, where he was on official state business, a potential violation of the Hatch Act’s prohibitions on government employees participating in political activity while on duty.

And the convention has still yet to hear from at least two more potential 2024 hopefuls: On Thursday, the convention will hear from Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, while tonight, the main event will be Vice President Pence.

Pence has been a loyal defender of Trump throughout the administration. Four years ago, the former Indiana governor was picked as Trump’s running mate in part to bolster the ticket’s conservative bona fides and appeal to evangelical and Midwestern voters. Asked about his 2024 prospects on Fox News this week, Pence smiled and said, “All of my focus is on getting this president reelected for four more years.”

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Women’s Votes A Focus Of Republican Convention

Wednesday night’s RNC lineup features remarks from several prominent Republican women, including second lady Karen Pence (pictured above), Sens. Joni Ernst and Marsha Blackburn, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and departing White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, among many others.

In fact, throughout the week, the convention has highlighted Republican women, whether they have been members of President Trump’s family, elected officials or “everyday Americans” (as the Trump campaign describes them).

In her address Tuesday night, first lady Melania Trump highlighted themes we have not heard much from male speakers, talking about the president’s empathy and concern for victims of COVID-19. She had what she called “a special message for the mothers of this country,” about how to talk with their children, and called parents “warriors.”

She also said the president has “built an administration with an unprecedented number of women in leadership roles,” although according to a database maintained by the Partnership for Public Service, only about 25% of Trump’s top appointees are women, an amount lower than those during either the Obama or Clinton administrations.

Earlier in the week, the first lady also held a ceremony to highlight the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.

The attention to women this week is clearly aimed at addressing one of the biggest hurdles to President Trump’s reelection — his standing with women. According to the most recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, while Democrat Joe Biden has an 11-point advantage over Trump among registered voters overall, among women, Biden’s advantage is a gaping 24 points.

Whether that gap can be narrowed may determine the outcome of the November election. But Trump has not done himself many favors, with tweets about “suburban housewives” that show an outdated view of today’s burbs.

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Today’s GOP ‘Is Donald Trump’s Party’

Ask any Republican strategist about the state of the Republican Party in 2020, and you’ll get an answer something like this one from GOP consultant Antonia Ferrier. “This is Donald Trump’s party,” she said, “and I don’t think that should be much of a surprise.”

To underscore the point, the Republican National Committee decided not to write a new party platform this year. Instead, ahead of this week’s GOP convention, the committee unanimously approved a resolution stating that the party “will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”

A lot of long-held Republican beliefs — once seen as party dogma — have been jettisoned under Trump. The party of free trade has backed Trump as he imposes tariffs and criticizes trade deals. On national defense, the president accuses NATO allies of not carrying their weight and essentially freeloading off the United States. Then there’s the longtime GOP hard line regarding the Soviet Union and Russia.

While some may not like his Twitter habit, polls show sky-high approval for Trump among Republicans. Social conservatives praise Trump’s judicial appointments. Others celebrate the 2017 tax-cut package. And many cheer his attacks on the media.

As for how lasting Trump’s transformation of the GOP will be, that depends on the outcome of the election.

Ferrier put it this way: "If there are those who believe that the Republican Party is just going to snap back to some status quo ante of, say, the Bush administration, I think that is misguided.”

Meanwhile, this week’s GOP convention is giving America a nightly view of the current Republican Party, under complete command of President Trump.

Read more about Trump’s GOP here.

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4 Takeaways From Night 2

The second night of the Republican National Convention presented a more positive message about a second Trump term, after the opening night’s bleak picture of rising crime, unrest and extremist policies that the GOP said the Democratic ticket had in store for the country.

Here are some takeaways from Tuesday’s lineup:

1. Melania Trump acknowledged the nation’s struggles with the coronavirus and racial unrest, while others sidestepped those crises in favor of an economic message.

Although there was no explicit acknowledgment of the massive scale of the virus’s toll — more than 178,000 Americans have died so far — the first lady showed more empathy than her husband has in recent months.

2. In keeping with this norm-busting convention, the RNC program mixed official business with politics.

Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, administered the oath to five new citizens in the East Room. With a reality show flair, President Trump announced a full pardon for Jon Ponder, who founded a program for the reentry of inmates into society after serving a 10-year prison sentence in Nevada for bank robbery.

Both episodes blurred the line between what would typically be considered official White House business and political theater.

3. A spotlight on culture wars showed the campaign’s effort to energize Trump’s base.

With a deeply divided country and only a small margin of voters still undecided in the final 10 weeks of the campaign, Trump needs his loyal supporters to turn out in November in high numbers. Tuesday’s program featured popular figures who railed about the media for disregarding them and ignoring issues they care about.

4. Republicans gave a big stage to diverse and younger voices as it struggles with the minority and youth vote.

The Trump campaign received only 8% of the Black vote in the 2016 election, and the GOP’s standing among minorities has remained low. Efforts to boost support in key battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin continue, but Democrats argued repeatedly in their convention last week that the president’s policies have had the most negative impact on Black and Latino communities.

Read more analysis on the key takeaways from Tuesday night here.

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Who’s Speaking Tonight?

Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

The second night of the RNC concluded with first lady Melania Trump in the White House Rose Garden. Tonight, Vice President Pence is the big event. He will speak from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a site run by the National Park Service.

Second lady Karen Pence will also address the convention tonight, as will two senators: Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa, who is facing a tough reelection bid there. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who helped President Trump organize a Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore last month, also has a prime speaking spot.

From Congress, two New York Republicans will speak: Rep. Elise Stefanik, who emerged as a forceful defender of the president during the impeachment inquiry, and Rep. Lee Zeldin. Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas is also in the program.

And just a few days after announcing she will leave the White House at the end of the month, special adviser Kellyanne Conway, who helmed Trump’s campaign for part of 2016, will speak. In a video package last night, Conway was featured along with other top women in the Trump campaign and heralded as the first woman to helm a winning presidential campaign.

Wednesday night’s speakers also include:

Richard Grenell: After serving as Trump’s ambassador to Germany for two years, Grenell was appointed acting director of national intelligence. He had the job for only three months, and Democrats criticized him as the most overtly political and inexperienced person to ever serve as DNI.

Keith Kellogg: A retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, Kellogg served briefly as acting national security adviser after the departure of Michael Flynn. When the permanent job ultimately went to H.R. McMaster, Kellogg began serving as Pence’s national security adviser.

Jack Brewer: A former NFL player and member of Black Voices for Trump, Brewer was charged with insider trading earlier this month. Brewer was not included on the latest speaker list. The Trump campaign would not confirm whether he’s set to speak or not.

Sister Dede Byrne: a retired Army surgeon who is a member of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and deployed multiple times abroad as a reservist.

Madison Cawthorn: The 25-year-old is the Republican running for the North Carolina congressional seat formerly held by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Cawthorn was paralyzed from the waist down after an accident when he was 18. Recently, Cawthorn has faced allegations of aggressive sexual behavior from women and controversy over his use of white supremecist symbols.

Scott Dane: Dane is executive director of Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota.

Clarence Henderson: One of the first participants in the 1960 sit-in at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., Henderson is now a vocal Trump backer and spokesman for the right-leaning Frederick Douglass Foundation.

Michael McHale: McHale is president of the National Association of Police Organizations, which has endorsed Trump.

Burgess Owens: Owens is a former NFL player and GOP congressional nominee in Utah. A former Republican Utah lawmaker is calling for Owens to be removed from the lineup after he appeared in a QAnon affiliated video earlier this year.

Lara Trump: Trump campaign adviser and wife of Eric Trump

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