WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump formally accepted his party’s nomination for a second term Thursday in a scorching address from the White House in which he sought to defend his record on the pandemic while tearing down Democrat Joe Biden – sometimes inaccurately – as a “weak” instrument of his party’s left-wing.
“Joe Biden is not a savior of America's soul,” Trump asserted during roughly 70 minutes of remarks. “He is the destroyer of America's jobs.”
Mostly sticking to prepared remarks, Trump’s unusual acceptance speech at times had the feel of one of his campaign rallies: A crowd of some 1,500 gathered at the White House to hear him speak. But the president also resisted his urge to veer off message, moving linearly as he framed his agenda – and tried to define Biden’s.
In a blistering series of attacks, Trump accused Biden of being a “Trojan horse for socialism,” and reiterated claims that Democrats, if brought to power, would “demolish the suburbs” and “wipe away your Second Amendment.” While the Democratic Party has moved to the left, Biden ran – and won – his party’s nomination by staking out a centrist platform on health care, taxes and other issues.
Trump relied mainly on well-worn lines to explain his response to the coronavirus, which has killed more than 180,000 Americans and acted as a drag on his support in battleground states, according to polls.
“We are meeting this challenge,” Trump said. “We are delivering life-saving therapies and we'll produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner.”
Those who like Trump's speech said it had strong lines defending his record and warning undecided voters of the consequences of a Biden victory.
Pollster Frank Luntz, who attended the speech on the South Lawn, cited Trump's line questioning "how can the Democrat party lead our country when they spend so much time tearing down our country.” It was the kind of catchy phrase that not only drew applause but that had also been largely absent from both conventions.
"That's memorable," Luntz said. "That’s powerful."
Critics found Trump's delivery slow and plodding.
"It's disjointed and long," said Tim Miller, political director of a group called Republican Voters Against Trump. "And aimed at winning back people that he's lost – not winning over anyone new. "
Trump also struck at a central theme of the Democratic convention: Biden’s empathy. Trump criticized Biden for supporting for the North American Free Trade Agreement and for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. Those “Biden calamities,” he said, cost the nation manufacturing jobs. Workers were laid off in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other Rust Belt states, he said.
“They didn't want to hear Biden's hollow words of empathy,” Trump said. “They wanted their jobs back.”
Biden campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said in a statement., "know the truth about Trump’s crisis-plagued presidency because they are living it every single day."
“Instead of a strategy to overcome the pandemic, or any concern for the unbearable suffering in our country right now as a result of his ongoing failures, what we heard was a delusional vision completely divorced from the crushing reality that ordinary Americans face," Bedingfield said.
— John Fritze, David Jackson and Maureen Groppe
Donald Trump barely mentions the location of his speech: The White House
President Donald Trump made only one reference to the controversial location of his speech - the White House itself - and he did so to taunt his political opponents.
"What's the name of that building?" Trump told the supportive crowd. "We're here and they're not."
Trump also praised the creature comforts of the White House.
"It's not a building - it's a home as far as I'm concerned," he said.
— David Jackson
Trump paints an inaccurate picture of Biden’s record
President Donald Trump’s effort to paint Democrat Joe Biden as representing the left-wing of his party continued in a major way during his remarks Thursday, underscoring a message he is likely to hammer in the coming months even if it’s largely inaccurate.
“Biden is a Trojan horse for socialism,” Trump asserted during some of his more pointed remarks from the South Lawn. “If Joe Biden doesn't have the strength to stand up to wild-eyed Marxists like Bernie Sanders and his fellow radicals, then how is he ever going to stand up for you?”
It is true that the Democrat Party has moved to the left, just as the Republican Party has moved to the right. But Biden has hewed closely to the centrist wing of his party throughout his career and did so during the Democratic primary – coming under frequent attack from more left-leaning candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Trump’s remarks on Biden’s police plan is a clear illustration of how the president is attempting to define Biden in a way that’s inconsistent with the candidate’s position. Trump noted that when asked if he supports cutting police funding in an interview, Biden responded “Yes, absolutely.”
Biden repeatedly said in op-eds and interview that he does not support defunding the police. He has actually called for a $300 million increase in funding for police.
— John Fritze
Who is the real 'ally of the light?'
One of the biggest lines from Joe Biden’s acceptance speech last week came when he promised to deliver the nation out of division, saying Trump “has cloaked America in darkness for much too long.”
If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst,” Biden said. “I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.”
Trump went after that line, twice.
He accused Democrats of having an agenda so radical that they couldn’t talk about it at their convention.
“Joe Biden may claim he is an ally of the light,” he said. “But when it comes to his agenda, Biden wants to keep us completely in the dark.”
And referring to recent power outages in California, Trump asked: “How can Joe Biden claim to be an ally of the light when his own party can't even keep the lights on?”
— Maureen Groppe
Donald Trump stresses his record - but only parts of it
Like many predecessors seeking re-election, President Donald Trump is picking and choosing only parts of his record to emphasize – stressing the stock market and two Supreme Court justices.
But in this case, analysts said, Trump is downplaying the ravages of COVID-19 and the unemployment crisis it spawned (blaming it all on China).
"Trump pretends that he was just president for 3 years," tweeted Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia during the Barack Obama administration. "He wants you to forget that he has been and still is president in 2020."
— David Jackson
Trump attacked a centerpiece of Biden’s campaign: his empathy
In a series of attacks that Trump called Biden’s shameful roll call of the most catastrophic betrayals and blunders in our lifetime, he criticized Biden for voting for the North American Free Trade Agreement and for supporting China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. Those “Biden calamities” cost the nation manufacturing jobs, Trump charged. Workers were laid off in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and many other states, he said.
“They didn't want to hear Biden's hollow words of empathy,” Trump said. “They wanted their jobs back.”
— Maureen Groppe
Trump attacks 'the left'
President Donald Trump began the most aggressive part of his speech not going after Joe Biden but instead focusing on "the left," casting them as enemies of America.
"How can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?" Trump said at one point.
He added: "In the left’s backward view, they do not see America as the most free just and exceptional nation on earth ... They see a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins"
Later, he does loop in Biden, saying he will not be able to control those socialists in his midst.
— David Jackson
Trump reaches for uplifting tone in early remarks
President Donald Trump’s convention remarks at the White House started off a bit like a rally – with his trademark “God Bless the U.S.A.” blaring from a South Lawn packed with supporters and signs bearing his name.
But Trump’s speech, at least in its early minutes, read more like one of his major addresses to Congress than to a rally crowd. Trump delivered several lines that were intended to strike an uplifting tone.
“We understand that America is not a land that’s cloaked in darkness. America is the torch that lights the entire world,” Trump said. “This towering America spirit has prevailed over every challenge and lifted us to the summit of human endeavors.”
Still, the speech wasn’t totally devoid of trademark Trump: Early in his remarks, discussing the choice in the election, Trump described opponent Joe Biden as “radical” and warned against the ushering in of “socialist” policies.
"How can the democrat party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country," Trump said.
— John Fritze
Trump formally accepts nomination
President Donald Trump formally accepted his party’s nomination during remarks on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday, a symbolic gesture that nevertheless signaled a turning point in the race.
“I stand before you tonight honored by your support,” said Trump, who took the podium to chants of “four more” years. “Tonight with a heart full of gratitude…I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States.”
Trump, who faced virtually no intraparty opposition for the nomination, hopes to use his remarks – the most important of this week’s RNC -- to define his agenda for the next four years while landing attacks on Joe Biden.
Trump said he would be viewing damage from Hurricane Laura this weekend. He started his remarks by calling out “the wonderful people who have just come through the wrath of Hurricane Laura.”
— John Fritze
Ivanka Trump hits at Biden in introduction of her father
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, took a few subtle digs at Democrat Joe Biden in remarks at the RNC on Thursday, dipping into a political role she has largely eschewed during her time in the White House.
"Since the day he took the oath of office, I've watched my father take on the failed policies of the past and do what no other leader has done before,” Ivanka Trump said as she introduced her father on convention’s final night.
She also touted Trump's criminal justice reform law, which she described as having "rectified the disparities in the 1994 Biden crime bill that disproportionately hurt African Americans."
Still, Ivanka Trump's criticism was relatively benign when compared to the rhetoric embraced by members of both parties in recent years.
She started her remarks by noting the impact of Hurricane Laura, telling those gathering on the South Lawn that the nation would come together to rebuild.
And she offered an extended defense of her father's response to the coronavirus pandemic, an issue that had not come up in a substantial way prior to her remarks.
"As our nation endures this grave trial, I pray for the families who are mourning the loss of a loved one, for all those who are battling COVID-19, and for the first responders and healthcare heroes who remain on the frontlines of this fight," Ivanka Trump said.
— John Fritze and David Jackson
Alice Johnson praises Trump for her ‘second chance’
Criminal justice reform advocate Alice Johnson, whose prison sentence was commuted by Trump, explained how the president gave her a “second chance” by signing the First Step Act, a sweeping law designed to reduce the federal prison population while also easing offenders’ transition back to their communities.
“I was once told that the only way I would ever be reunited with my family would be as a ghost,” Johnson said. “But by the grace of God and the compassion of President Donald John Trump, I stand before you tonight and I assure you, I'm not a ghost. I am alive, I am well, and most importantly, I am free.”
Johnson, a 65-year-old grandmother who spent 21 years in jail for a life sentence conviction on nonviolent drug and money laundering charges, also attended Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address when he discussed the First Step Act, which had overwhelming support from both parties in Congress. After a visit from Kim Kardashian and as part of his criminal justice push, Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence to time served in June 2018.
“Imagine getting to hug your loved ones again. It’s a feeling I will never forget,” she said. “When President Trump heard about me – about the injustice of my story – he saw me as a person. He had compassion and acted.”
Trump has sought to make his actions on criminal justice reform central to his re-election bid. The campaign has spent nearly $6 million in Facebook ads touting his record for criminal justice reform since May, including the signing of the First Step Act – more money spent on any other issue.
— Courtney Subramanian
Parents of aid worker slain in Syria praise Trump
The parents of a humanitarian aid worker, who was3445058001 killed in Syria, lauded President Donald Trump on Thursday for taking decisive action in killing one of her Islamic State tormenters, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Kayla Mueller was abducted Aug. 4, 2013, and she endured rape and torture for 18 months. Her parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, said the Obama administration vowed to do everything it could to investigate her abduction, but everything wasn’t enough.
“We put all our faith in government, but the government let us down,” said Carl Mueller, who held a picture of his daughter.
But the Muellers recounted how Trump ordered an Army special forces raid in Syria that resulted in al-Baghdadi’s death. The raid was called Task Force 814, after their daughter’s birthday, Aug. 14 and the mission was called Operation Kayla Mueller.
“What a difference a president makes,” Carl Mueller told the Republican National Convention.
— Bart Jansen
Rudy Giuliani attacks Dems for leading cities with unrest, predicts further violence under Biden
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is now President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, slammed Democrats with a familiar refrain throughout the convention that focused on violence in cities where there have been anti-police brutality protests.
Giuliani slammed cities led by Democrats for their response to unrest: “Don’t let Democrats do to America what they have done to New York!”
Giuliani accused Democratic nominee Joe Biden of being a “Trojan horse” for “pro-criminal, anti-police, socialist policies.” Other RNC speakers have also said Biden is anti-police, but Biden’s past remarks don’t support those claims. While some on the left have called for defunding police, Biden has repeatedly pushed against that call. Biden has also called for an increase in police funding to address racial profiling.
Giuliani said that for Republicans and Trump, “all Black lives matter.”
“These continuous riots in Democrat cities gives you a good view of the future under Biden," he said.
Biden’s campaign has pointed out in response to similar predictions that the current violence is happening while Trump is in office, not a Democrat.
“Last night, Vice President Mike Pence stood before America and with a straight face said, ‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,’” Biden tweeted today in response to last night’s convention. “His proof? The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.”
Giuliani addressed viewers directly, warning that they could see the “lawlessness” in their cities. He also said he has “no question” that Trump will fight to preserve “our way of life.”
“Mr. President, make our nation safe again,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani, known to some as “America’s mayor,” was also a key part of the push to dig up dirt on Biden that led to Trump’s impeachment in the House and acquittal in the Senate. Impeachment witnesses described him as leading a “shadow” foreign policy operation to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
Protesters make themselves heard
Raucous protesters chanted and banged drums near the White House as more than a thousand guests of the president were gathered inside in advance of President Donald Trump’s acceptance speech. The noise could be heard faintly from within the White House grounds.
“Black women matter, because we get stuff done!” some yelled.
No justice, no peace!” others chanted at Black Lives Matter Plaza, the epicenter of the protests earlier this year over racial injustice and the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of law enforcement.
The handmade sign held aloft by one man read “My Melanin is not a threat.”
The sign of another protester declared: “Defund the police is a strategy. Abolish the police is the goal.”
Republicans have repeatedly accused Joe Biden of wanting to defund the police. Biden has said he does not support that.
— Matt Brown, David Jackson and Maureen Groppe
Ben Carson addresses shooting of Jacob Blake
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson touched on the shooting of Jacob Blake during the third night of the Republican convention on Thursday – mentioning a name that no other major speaker has uttered during the four-night convention so far.
Blake’s name was mentioned during an opening prayer on the convention’s second night but not by the speakers following the opening ceremonies. Instead, most speakers – including President Donald Trump – have focused on violence taking place in cities, partly in response to high-profile incidents of police brutality.
Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot multiple times in the back Sunday by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Before I begin, I’d like to say that our hearts go out to the Blake family,” Carson, a former neurosurgeon said. “As Jacob's mother has urged the country, let's use our hearts, our love and our intelligence, to work together."
— John Fritze
Former police captain's widow makes tearful plea for peaceful change
Like any police officer's spouse, Ann Dorn was always fearful her husband Dave, a St. Louis Metropolitan police captain, would be hurt in the line of duty. When he retired after 44 years in law enforcement, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Until that fateful night in June when her 77-year-old husband was killed while responding to an alarm at a pawnshop during anti-police riots in the streets.
"I re-live that horror in my mind every single day," Ann Dorn said, wiping away tears. "My hope is that having you re-live it with me now will help shake this country from the nightmare we are witnessing in our cities and bring about positive, peaceful change."
"How did we get to this point where so many young people are so callous and indifferent towards human life? This isn’t a video game where you can commit mayhem and then hit “reset” and bring all the characters back to life," she said. "David is never coming back. He was murdered by people who didn’t know, and just didn’t care, that he would have done anything to help them."
— Ledyard King
McConnell: Support Senate Republican candidates
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged voters to support Republican candidates for Senate, in order to thwart Democratic plans to pack the Supreme Court and put restrictions on the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.
The Kentucky Republican said Democrats spent their convention last week talking about nominee Joe Biden rather than their plans. McConnell accused Democrats of wanting to dictate when workers went to the office, when students went to school, what kind of car could be owned and even how many hamburgers you can eat.
Trump-appointed two of nine Supreme Court justices that McConnell shepherded to confirmation. But McConnell said Democrats seek to pack the court with liberal justices and erode protections for unborn life and own guns.
“They want to codify all this by making the swamp itself – Washington, D.C. – America’s 51st state,” McConnell said. “With two more liberal senators, we cannot undo the damage they have done.”
McConnell called the Republican Senate the firewall against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.
“The stakes have never been higher,” said McConnell, who is running for reelection. “That’s why I’m asking you to support Republican Senate candidates across the country and reelect my friend, President Donald Trump.”
— Bart Jansen
Aides testify to Trump’s empathy
After Democrats spent much of their convention talking up Joe Biden’s empathy, Republicans are taking their turn.
Early in the final evening, before President Donald Trump took the stage, two of his aides testified to his character.
If there is one thing I hope you will hear from me tonight, it is this: President Trump is a kind and decent man,” said Dan Scavino, deputy chief of staff for communications who first met Trump while working as a caddie in 1992.
Scavino said Trump shows “endless kindness to everyone he meets.”
Similarly, Ja’Ron Smith, a deputy assistant to the president, said Trump “really cares.”
“I just wish every American could see the deep empathy he showed to families whose loved ones were killed in senseless violence,” Smith said.
— Maureen Groppe
Donald Trump's White House becomes a political theater
They scheduled a White House speech Thursday night and a Donald Trump infomercial broke out.
More than 1,000 people (estimated) gathered on the South Lawn and watched a broadcast of the Republican Party convention leading into Trump's acceptance speech later in the evening.
The scene had the air of one of those campaign rallies Trump held before the COVID-19 pandemic. Electronic Trump-Pence banners flanked the stage before the convention broadcast. Red, white, and blue bunting festooned the stage.
The COVID issue hovered, a little. Some people wore masks to protect themselves from possible spread of the virus, but most did not.
The White House staging also had aspects of a television show or a Broadway play, though one that got some lousy reviews.
Alyssa Mastromonaco, an official in Barack Obama's White House, tweeted that "I hear that the Office of Special Counsel says this WH South Lawn obscenity is legal. Cool. I was told by OUR counsel I shouldn’t hang the framed front page of the Poughkeepsie Journal from the night Obama won."
Protesters gathered beyond the White House gates to try and disrupt the event with music and chants. The press corps could hear them, somewhat, but the Trump fans who were closer to the stage probably couldn't.
The Trump supporters sat in chairs were arrayed in a semi-circle in front of the stage just in front of the White House, beside risers filled with still photographers and camera people.
Planners hung bright stage lights over the speakers' podium, and roving cameras on cranes swept the scene.
There was no taped music at this rally. A professional singer offered songs like "Ave Maria," and had the crowd join him for group renditions of "America The Beautiful" and "God Bless America."
Not everyone felt blessed. The set-up did not sit well with people who said the White House should not be used for political campaigns.
"A campaign banner on the people’s lawn?" said Tim Miller, political director of an organization called Republican Voters Against Trump. "It looks like what you’d see from some tin pot South American caudillo."
— David Jackson
Van Drew: ex-Democrat says his party pushing a 'radical, socialist agenda'
Democrats used their convention last week to highlight a number of high-profile Republicans who were endorsing Joe Biden: John Kasich, Christie Whitman and Colin Powell, among them.
On Thursday, it was Trump’s turn to showcase at least one prominent former Democrat who is now backing him.
New Jersey Congressman Jefferson Van Drew, who switched parties in December and became a Republican after Trump courted him, appeared on the GOP stage to praise the president and tell viewers how much his old party is peddling a "radical, socialist agenda."
"Republicans, Independents, and even Democrats, they all know that in President Trump's America, we have a strong military, strong support for our police, strong support for our Veterans and seniors," the freshman congressman said.
"In President Trump's America, we have a strong supply chain, good schools, we're energy independent and protect our environment. "There are a lot of Democrats who support our President…and are disgusted for what their old party - what my old party – has become.
Before he spoke, a video of former Democratic voters talked about why they support Trump to promote the idea that Trump appeals to those who feel the party no longer represents them.
As a Democrat, Van Drew was one of only two Democrats to break ranks and vote against both articles of impeachment against Trump last fall. It was the backlash from Democrats over those anti-impeachment votes that helped propel him to leave the Democratic Party after decades as a local and state officeholder.
— Ledyard King
McCarthy: Choice could not be clearer
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy promoted the country’s accomplishments under President Donald Trump while warning voters against how Democrats would dismantle his progress.
The California Republican lauded the great economy by Trump tearing up bad trade deals, killing terrorists and restoring law and order at the border. But he said Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, would dismantle institutions and destroy the economy.
“The choice before you could not be clearer,” McCarthy said. “Forward in freedom or backward in socialism? Forward in prosperity or backward in poverty? Forward in personal liberty or backward in government control. I know which direction I’m headed. Join us, because the best is yet to come.”
— Bart Jansen
Graham: ‘Our country is facing trouble’
Republicans have been eager to portray the nation’s troubles – from deep divisions over race to the coronavirus pandemic -- as largely issues the past, thanks to President Donald Trump.
Occasionally it’s been the opening prayer where some of those problems have been addressed most directly. Franklin Graham, the son of the American evangelist Billy Graham, followed that pattern Thursday.
“Our country is facing trouble,” said Graham, perhaps the best known Christian leader to address the convention thus far. “We have witnessed injustice. We need your help. We ask that you would unite our hearts.”
— John Fritze
Fourth, final night of RNC is underway
President Donald Trump will formally accept his party’s nomination Thursday during the final night of the Republican National Convention, now underway.
As in past nights, Republicans will feature business owners and advocates for GOP causes before getting to the main event: Trump’s speech, delivered from the South Lawn of the White House. The president will be introduced by his daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump.
Excerpts of Trump’s speech released earlier Thursday indicated the president would spend at least a portion of his remarks trying to paint Democrat Joe Biden as “extreme,” despite a career in office that has placed him firmly him in the party’s center.
Trump is set to take the podium after 10 p.m. ET.
— John Fritze
A packed house amid a pandemic
The president’s guests streamed through the White House throughout the day – none were seen wearing a mask. One guest, posing for the obligatory photo at the press secretary’s podium in the briefing room, joked as he donned a mask – then quickly removed it before the picture was snapped.
A sea of white chairs assembled on the White House South Lawn, where at least 1,000 people turned out for President Donald Trump’s nomination acceptance speech, showed a blatant disregard for social distancing – a key safety measure the president’s own health experts say is critical to containing the spread of the coronavirus. Less than half the crowd were spotted wearing masks while some donned face coverings around their necks.
Over the four-day spectacle, the Trump campaign appeared to cast aside widely accepted safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus despite the pandemic derailing their plans for a more traditional convention.
Earlier this week First Lady Melania Trump spoke before roughly 100 seated guests in the newly renovated Rose Garden while Vice President Mike Pence was spotted shaking hands and fist-bumping audience members, many of whom were unmasked, after his speech before a crowd at Fort McHenry.
— David Jackson (@djusatoday) August 27, 2020
Roger G. Darling, a former White House physician under President Bill Clinton and chief medical officer for Patronus Medical Corp, which partnered with the RNC for the event, said officials were working “to make certain proper protocols are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals.”
The protocols, which he declined to detail, are in “full compliance” with the Centers for Disease Control, the District of Columbia of Public Health and other leading authorities, he said.
Though federal government employees are exempted from Washington, D.C., guidelines, city regulations currently prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said “a number of people will be tested,” but he would not specify how many. White House rules require anyone who comes in close contact with the president to be tested. Meadows also said that everybody will be encouraged – but not required - to wear masks.
“I think it’s a pretty safe environment,” he said.
— David Jackson and Courtney Subramanian
Quantifying Trump’s boost from police groups
The Trump campaign’s “law and order” theme will continue into the final night of the convention when Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, will praise the president for giving law enforcement agencies the “support and tools” to end rioting and looting.
Wednesday night’s lineup included the president of the National Association of Police Organizations explaining why his group endorsed Trump.
How much of a boost can police organizations make?
In a published study of the last presidential election, researcher Michael Zoorob found that Trump had performed better in places with a higher density of Fraternal Order of Police lodges than Mitt Romney had four years earlier.
Zoorob estimated that support from the FOP could have resulted in Trump gaining about 15,000 votes in Michigan and about 31,000 votes in Pennsylvania. That exceeds the number of votes by which Trump won Michigan but is not as high as his 44,292 vote margin in Pennsylvania.
Zoorob told USA TODAY that his study is consistent with the substantial scholarship in political science showing that well-organized, federated groups like the Fraternal Order of Police influence electoral politics.
“However, I wouldn't overstate the importance of the findings,” he added.
In Pennsylvania, the state where the Fraternal Order of Police was founded, and where, with 40,000 members, its membership is largest, the estimated effect was a 0.7 percentage point shift from Romney to Trump.
“But in close elections,” he wrote in an email, “swings of that magnitude are important.”
— Maureen Groppe
Donald Trump campaign workers take over Donald Trump's White House
As President Donald Trump prepares to deliver his nomination acceptance speech, two separate Trump teams are inside and outside the White House getting ready for the big show.
Inside, Trump aides are in their offices doing normal administration business.
A visiting team of Trump and Republican National Committee officials, workers, and volunteers are outside putting the final touches on the stage for the Trump speech that will close the week-long GOP convention.
Administration officials said they are keeping the work separate because of concerns about the Hatch Act, which forbids government employees from engaging in political activity on government property.
"RNC Convention events have been planned and executed by the Trump Campaign and RNC," said White House spokesman Judd Deere. "Any government employees who have or may participate are doing so in compliance with the Hatch Act."
The campaign people are generally hanging out on the South Lawn, where the event will be held. As campaign workers outside tested the sound system, employees inside the White House could hear the strains of opera icon Luciano Pavarotti belting out "Nessun dorma," which is Italian for "let no one sleep."
Some policy analysts aren't buying the government-campaign distinctions.
They said Trump's decision to give a convention speech on White House property at least undermines the spirit of the Hatch Act and turns the venerable building into a party headquarters.
"It blends the official with the political in a way normally seen with dictators," said Jordan Libowitz, communications director with the organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Trump himself is not subject to the Hatch Act, but Libowitz said "everyone else who works in the White House are. And the law is clear that no taxpayer dollars can go toward this. Whether or not there end up being any legal violations, there will certainly be ethical ones."
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which enforces the Hatch Act, sent out statements this week noting that presidents are not subject to the law. They also noted that "there are certain areas of the White House where the Hatch Act does not prohibit federal employees from engaging in political activity," and those include the South Lawn.
— David Jackson
President Trump's speech will be introduced by a special guest: Ivanka
A high-profile adviser and supporter will introduce President Donald Trump before his acceptance speech tonight.
Her name: Ivanka Trump.
The president's daughter plans to focus on the administration's agenda for working families, according to excerpts of her prepared speech, seeking to appeal to women voters who could be decisive in key states.
“President Trump is advancing the American values of work and family," Ivanka Trump plans to say. "Four years ago, I told you my father would focus on making childcare affordable and accessible. As part of Republican tax cuts, in 2019 alone our child tax credit put over $2,000 dollars into the pockets of 40 million American families.”
Ivanka Trump also plans to critique Democrat Joe Biden on these issues, according to another excerpt: "Since the day he took the oath of office, I’ve watched my father take on the failed policies of the past and do what no other leader has done before."
— David Jackson
Biden defends Catholicism against GOP attacks
Democratic nominee Joe Biden defended his Catholicism on Thursday after speakers at the Republican National Convention questioned his faith because of his support for abortion rights.
“I practice all the elements of my faith,” Biden told MSNBC. “And my private beliefs relative to how I would deal with the church doctrine is different than my imposing that doctrine on every other person in the world, equally decent Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists, et cetera.”
Biden has said his religion helped him cope with the 1972 deaths of his first wife and infant daughter and the 2015 death of his grown son. He said Thursday that he never misses Mass, but that he doesn’t proselytize.
“It's what gets me through the really difficult times in my life,” Biden said. “And I believe in it very strongly.”
His comments came after Sister Dede Byrne, of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and Lou Holtz, a former college football coach at Notre Dame, each questioned his religion. The speakers each said the Democratic ticket of Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris would be the most ardent supporters of abortion rights ever.
Byrne, a doctor, said life unequivocally begins a conception and that she is “not just pro-life, I’m pro-eternal life.” Holtz said Biden is among politicians who are “Catholic in name only.”
But the University of Notre Dame president, Fr. John Jenkins, issued a public statement after Holtz’s speech saying Catholics may judge the moral quality of another’s actions, but “we must never question the sincerity of another’s faith.”
One in five voters in 2016 were Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center. More than half (52%) voted for President Donald Trump while 44% voted for Hillary Clinton.
In a June Pew Research Center survey, 52% of all Catholics supported Biden’s candidacy although Trump was still carrying white Catholics.
Biden bristled Thursday at having to defend his beliefs against President Donald Trump.
“I think it’s kind of preposterous for a guy who hardly ever darkens the door of a church,” Biden said.
— Bart Jansen
Trump signals attacks on Biden at final night of Republican convention
Republican speakers at this week's RNC have walked a line between trying to present an "uplifting" vision and unloading on Democrat Joe Biden. President Donald Trump's campaign signaled Thursday his remarks will focus on the second approach.
Trump will formally accept his party's nomination from the White House in the 10 p.m. ET hour on Thursday, the final and most important event of the convention. Excerpts of the president's address released by the campaign on Thursday show Trump will try to paint Biden as a product of his party's far left wing (despite the former vice president's longstanding reputation as hailing from the party's center).
"We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years. At the Democrat convention, you barely heard a word about their agenda," Trump will say, according to those excerpts. "But that's not because they don't have one. It's because their agenda is the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee."
Aides said Trump will also make mention of protests taking part in many American cities.
Still, the excerpts from the campaign show the president will also seek to strike positive notes: "This towering American spirit has prevailed over every challenge, and lifted us to the summit of human endeavor," he is expected to say.
– John Fritze
A look back at Trump's 2016 speech
In defending his administration's record, President Donald Trump is expected to strike a more optimistic tone in his nomination acceptance speech Thursday than he did in a similar address four years ago.
Of course, it'll be easy to be more optimistic than Trump was in 2016.
When he accepted his first presidential nomination in July of 2016, Trump painted a dark and foreboding picture of the United States, a land beset by crime and corruption that required an outsider to address systemic challenges in Washington.
"Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it," Trump famously said that night in Cleveland.
Aides to Democratic challenger Joe Biden said that, four years after that first nomination speech, Trump has made things worse by dividing Americans along racial lines, undermining national security by alienating global allies, and mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic problems it spawned.
After Vice President Mike Pence referenced recent police shootings and protests during his remarks on Wednesday, Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders noted that: “With all due respect, Mr. Vice President, that violence is happening right now in Donald Trump’s America."
"You own this," she said. "Donald Trump has spent his entire time actively fueling hate and division.”
Looking back on Trump's nomination speech in 2016, it's striking to see issues that still percolate this election year.
In 2016, Trump said: "Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life."
And this: "There can be no prosperity without law and order."
Four years ago, Trump claimed to represent "the forgotten men and women of our country, people who work hard but no longer have a voice ... I am your voice."
Trump also talked that night about allegedly bad trade deals and lost jobs, attacked the Iran nuclear deal, and vowed to wage an aggressive war on terrorism.
He attacked then-President Barack Obama and 2016 election opponent Hillary Clinton with kind of ferocity he is expected to reserve tonight for Joe Biden, according to excerpts of the speech provided by the Trump campaign.
Those excerpts also included more positive lines like, "this towering American spirit has prevailed over every challenge, and lifted us to the summit of human endeavor.”
Trump's speech, live from the White House, is scheduled to start at 10:28 p.m. ET.
– David Jackson
McConnell: 'Election is incredibly consequential'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will tell the Republican National Convention on Thursday that he looks out for middle America, in contrast to Democratic congressional leaders from New York and California.
“This election is incredibly consequential for middle America,” McConnell said from Kentucky in prepared remarks obtained exclusively by USA TODAY. “Today’s Democrat party doesn’t want to improve life for middle America.”
Democratic leaders have blasted McConnell for bottling up 380 House bills – 80% of which have bipartisan support – without votes in the Republican-controlled Senate. “McConnell and the Republicans have refused over and over again to take action to protect Americans’ healthcare, to address the coronavirus,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters Wednesday.
McConnell described himself as the “grim reaper” in April 2019 blocking progressive legislation while shepherding confirmation of judicial and other nominees.
“I am immensely proud of the work the Republican Senate has done,” McConnell said. “We are the firewall against (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.”
McConnell, who will be on the ballot with President Donald Trump on Nov. 3, said the Senate won’t be bullied by the liberal media. Instead, Republicans will work on behalf of millions of Americans whose stories aren’t told in newspapers, he said.
“They prefer that all of us in flyover country keep quiet and let them decide how we should live our lives,” McConnell said. “They want to tell you when you can go to work. When your kids can go to school. They want to tax your job out of existence, and then send you a government check for unemployment.”
– Bart Jansen
Protesters look to drown out Trump’s RNC speech
A group of activists hopes to drown out President Donald Trump’s speech as he accepts the Republican Party nomination at the White House.
Trump is set to speak Thursday night from the South Lawn. As he does, a local band will be blaring Go-Go music, a distinctive D.C. variant on funk.
The popular local band TOB will perform one block from the White House, with the goal of disrupting Trump’s speech.
A longtime D.C. trademark, Go-Go music emerged last year as a battle anthem for activists fighting fast-moving gentrification in the nation’s capital. The music has been a regular presence in this summer’s protests against racial injustice, and rolling Go-Go trucks with live bands have appeared frequently at the epicenter of the protests, which was renamed by the city as Black Lives Matter Plaza.
– Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: RNC Live: Trump slams Biden as 'weak' as he defends coronavirus record