Refresh often for updates throughout Day 2 of the RNC.
Police officer touts Trump efforts on opioids
Marrying two key criminal justice messages often addressed by President Donald Trump, the Republican convention on Tuesday turned to an Albuquerque police officer who adopted the baby of a woman addicted to heroin.
Ryan Holets recalled an incident in 2017 in which he approached a pregnant woman preparing to inject heroin. The woman confessed she seeking a family who would adopt her baby.
“God showed me exactly what I had to do,” Holets said. “Without hesitation, I told her that my family would adopt her baby.”
The story hit on several important themes for Trump: First, the president has frequently touted the importance of police in communities, even as some departments have come under criticism for high-profile deadly interactions with Black citizens.
The story also spoke to an issue Trump has frequently discussed: The growth of opioid addiction in the U.S. Trump has signed several executive orders on the issue, and the administration has worked to reduce the number of opioids prescribed by doctors.
“I hold a special place in my heart for those facing opioid addiction,” Holets said. “That’s why I’m enormously grateful to the president for his leadership in fighting this deadly enemy.”
— John Fritze
Nunez: Trump will oppose socialism
Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, the first Latina in that post in state history, urged voters to support President Donald Trump to put “America first” in economic policy and for religious freedom.
“Let us join our president in his vow that America will never be a socialist country,” said Nunez, whose parents fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba. “He’s defended our religious freedom, stood with democratic allies like Colombia, and shown unwavering resolve while confronting tyrants in countries like Venezuela, Cuba, China and Nicaragua.”
She said Trump would support law enforcement. She said he would fight to provide the best quality education by preserving school choice.
“Americans have a choice,” Nunez said. “We can go down a dark road of chaos and government control, or we can choose the path of freedom and opportunity that was paved by those who sacrificed everything to preserve the American Dream for future generations.”
— Bart Jansen
Iowa governor: Trump ‘had our back’ during floods, storms
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds credits President Donald Trump with helping her state recover from devastating floods and storms.
When 100-year floods breached nearly all levees and devastated communities along the Missouri River in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri last year, Trump approved their request for federal aid in record time – just two days, Reynolds said.
And when a storm called a derecho, with hurricane-force winds of up to 140 miles per hour, wiped out millions of acres of crops just two weeks ago, Trump approved the state’s disaster aid request in less than 24 hours, she said.
Trump “had our back,” said Reynolds, a Republican and Trump supporter.
“The president cut through the bureaucracy to do what needed to be done, and to do it quickly,” she said.
Iowa is expected to be a key battleground state in November’s election. Trump carried the state in 2016 by nearly 9.5 percentage points. But polls show him in a tight race with Democratic challenger Joe Biden this year. Trump leads Biden by just 1.7 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics average of state polls.
— Michael Collins
Republican lawyer references Trump impeachment – to attack Joe Biden
Surprisingly, President Donald Trump’s impeachment came up at the Republican convention on Tuesday.
Not surprisingly, a Republican lawyer used it to attack Joe Biden.
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who helped Trump with his impeachment defense, used her speech to attack Joe Biden’s son Hunter for his business dealings in Ukraine.
“Joe Biden says he’ll build back better,” Bondi said at one point. “Yeah … build the Biden’s Back Better.”
Bondi provided no evidence that Hunter Biden’s business activity in Ukraine was illegal, or that Biden himself acted improperly.
Democrats quickly pointed out that Trump was impeached for pressuring Ukraine into investigating Biden, despite the lack of evidence, and for threatening to withhold military aid if it did not follow through.
Steve Schmidt, a former Republican and now a Trump opponent, tweeted that Bondi is “ethically challenged,” and “lying about the Biden Family and repeating the talking points of Russian Intelligence Services.”
Bondi has a close relationship with Trump, first as a long-time confidant from her days as attorney general and later as one of the lawyers who defended the president during the Senate impeachment trial earlier this year.
She also faced heavy criticism in 2013 when a Trump foundation sent her campaign a $25,000 check around the time her office decided not to join a New York state probe of consumer complaints against Trump University. Bondi has repeatedly said the donation had nothing to do with a decision made by independent investigators in her office not to pursue the investigation.
— David Jackson
RNC speaker pulled from lineup after boosting QAnon-tied conspiracy
The QAnon conspiracy theory made its way to the Republican National Convention Tuesday.
Shortly before the second night of programming began, Mary Ann Mendoza was pulled from the RNC lineup after earlier in the day retweeting an anti-Semitic Twitter thread with ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Mendoza tweeted “Do yourself a favor and read this thread,” linking to a lengthy thread from a QAnon conspiracy theorist that claimed the Rothschilds, a famous Jewish family from Germany, created a plan to terrorize “goyim” — non-Jewish people — by having “the goyim destroy each other” and “rob the goyim of their landed properties.”
— Savannah Behrmann
Kudlow: Trump’s actions spurred coronavirus recovery
Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic adviser, says the U.S. economy is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic thanks to “a great bipartisan rescue” led by President Donald Trump.
A tax hike would disrupt the recovery, he warned.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 178,000 Americans, has had a catastrophic impact on the U.S. economy since March. A mind-boggling 57.3 million workers have filed for unemployment over the past 22 weeks. Just two weeks ago, some 1.1 million Americans filed first-time applications for unemployment, the Labor Department said, signaling that the recovery will remain volatile.
But Kudlow struck an upbeat tone in his remarks to the Republican National Convention.
“Americans are going back to work,” Kudlow said. “There’s a housing boom. There’s an auto boom, a manufacturing boom, a consumer spending boom.”
Looking ahead, the Trump administration is planning more tax cuts and regulatory relief for small businesses, Kudlow said.
“Our economic choice is very clear,” Kudlow said. “Do you want economic health prosperity opportunity and optimism, or do you want to turn back to the dark days of stagnation recession and pessimism? There can’t be better economic policies than we’ve had in recent years.”
— Michael Collins
Taxes become theme of RNC
Republicans are working hard during the second night of the Republican convention to drive home a message about Democrat Joe Biden, arguing his administration would quickly increase taxes – as soon as Day 1.
“You’re coming out of a pandemic, and he wants to raise taxes?” asked Larry Kudlow, one of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers. “That’s crazy.”
It was a theme that was repeatedly raised throughout the evening.
John Peterson, owner a metal company, said Biden is “ready to raise taxes, crush us with regulations.” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said that Trump is the candidate to support for voters “who want lower taxes.”
Biden has vowed to repeal the Trump tax cuts approved early in his presidency, but for top earners — those earning over more than $400,000 – as well as corporations. If elected, Biden would need buy in from Congress to roll back the tax cuts, a move unlikely to take place on his first day.
Controversial former Planned Parenthood employee appeals to anti-abortion voters
Abby Johnson, an anti-abortion advocate known for turning against Planned Parenthood after working as the director of a clinic, touted President Donald Trump’s anti-abortion agenda.
“For me, abortion is real. I know what it sounds like; I know what abortion smells like. Did you know abortion even had a smell? I’ve been the perpetrator to these babies, to these women,” Johnson said on Tuesday.
Johnson, author of the memoir “Unplanned” that was also adapted into a film, told the story of witnessing an abortion that changed her views on the issue while wearing a “1972” pin to symbolize the year before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal.
“I left the clinic, looking back only to remember why I now advocate so passionately for life,” she said.
She praised Trump for appointing conservative Supreme Court justices who would be sympathetic to pro-life ideals and for withdrawing federal funds from clinics that conduct abortion referrals.
“Life is a core tenet of who we are as Americans,” Johnson said. “And this election is a choice between two radical, anti-life activists, and the most pro-life president we’ve ever had. That’s something that should compel you to action.”
Johnson has come under fire for a number of controversial opinions. Vice reported Tuesday that she said in a video she thinks it is “smart” for police to be “on more high alert” when interacting with her biracial son than with her white sons because “statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.”
Recent tweets by Johnson also show she supports head-of-household voting rights, which would only allow one representative from a household to cast their vote rather than each adult citizen. “In a Godly household, the husband would get the final say,” she said.
In a tweet ahead of her RNC appearance on Tuesday, Johnson accused abortion rights activists of being scared of her speech and “scrambling to try to find anything to detract people from my message.”
Challenging the media
Nicholas Sandmann, the student at the center of a media storm, urged voters Tuesday to support President Donald Trump because he refuses to allow news coverage “to create a narrative instead of reporting the facts.”
“I believe we must join a president who will challenge the media to return to objective journalism,” Sandmann, 18, said before putting on a red “Make America Great Again” hat. “This is worth fighting for. This is worth voting for. This is what President Donald Trump stands for.”
The news coverage that focused on Sandmann unfolded in January 2019, when the northern Kentucky teenager stared at Native American elder Nathan Phillips, who played a drum. A viral video of the moment played repeatedly on cable news and was reported in newspapers.
Sandmann, then a student at Covington Catholic High School, was attending a March for Life. Phillips was attending an Indigenous Peoples March. Sandmann said unfair coverage of the event changed his life forever in one moment without reporters asking for his side of the story or investigating Phillips’ motives.
“What I thought was a strange encounter, quickly developed into a major news story complete with video footage,” Sandmann said of his portrayal as a smirking boy in a red hat because of Trump’s opposition to abortion. “My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode.”
Sandmann sued CNN for $275 million by claiming the network defamed him, and the Washington Post. He reached undisclosed settlements in January.
In March, Sandmann sued five more outlets, including Gannett, the parent company of USA TODAY.
“I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being cancelled. As in annulled. As in revoked. As in made void,” Sandmann said. “Many are being fired, humiliated or even threatened. Often, the media is a willing participant. But I would not be cancelled.”
— Bart Jansen
Billy Graham’s granddaughter praises Trump as a ‘fierce advocate’ for religious groups
Cissie Graham Lynch, the daughter of evangelist Franklin Graham and granddaughter of legendary preacher Billy Graham, hailed President Donald Trump as a “fierce advocate in the White House” for people of faith who stands up for religious freedoms that were “under attack” during the Obama administration.
“Our founders did not envision a quiet, hidden faith. They fought to ensure that voices of faith were always welcomed, not silenced. Not bullied,” she said. “But during the Obama-Biden administration, these freedoms were under attack.”
The president is trying to shore up support among conservative Christians and white evangelicals who helped him secure his 2016 victory, but his approval rating among religious groups has slipped in recent months. A Pew Research Center survey last month found that 59% of white evangelicals say they “very strongly” approve of Trump, down eight points from April. But the survey also found that 82% would still vote for him if the election were held in July.
Graham Lynch, whose father is scheduled to speak on Thursday, said Trump-appointed judges who “respect the First Amendment,” supported religious beliefs in court and “ensured religious ministries would not be forced to violate their beliefs.”
She added there was “no room for people of faith” in the Biden administration, though the former vice president has frequently talked about how his Catholic faith has helped him survive the death of his first wife and their daughter in a 1972 car crash, as well as the death of his son in 2015.
“Whether you’re a baker, a florist or a football coach, they will force the choice between being obedient to God or to Caesar,” she said. “Because the radical left’s god is government power.”
Graham Lynch’s comments came hours after Jerushah Duford, another granddaughter of Billy Graham, penned a searing rebuke of Trump and her uncle Franklin Graham for his support of the president. Duford, who wrote in USA TODAY that her faith and church have become “a laughing stock,” called on evangelical Christian women to speak out against Trump’s actions.
— Courtney Subramanian
RNC turns to a more hopeful message
Breaking with the dire messaging of “socialism” and “Loch Ness” monsters that dominated the first night of the RNC, Republicans embraced a softer tone Tuesday — at least in the early minutes — ahead of first lady Melania Trump’s address.
“He has followed through on his promises,” asserted Maine lobsterman Jason Joyce.
“More than any president in my lifetime, he’s acknowledged the importance of farmers and agriculture,” said dairy farmer Chris Peterson.
In the most notable example of the shift, Trump appeared himself briefly in a taped appearance from the White House and signed a pardon to Jon Ponder, founder of Hope For Prisoners, a Las Vegas-based organization that helps ex-prisoners re-enter society.
The event drew scrutiny from Democrats, some of whom questioned the president’s use of an official act at a political convention, but it nevertheless underscored more of a focus on the president’s accomplishments rather than on what Republicans see as Biden’s failures.
“Today, I’m filled with hope,” Ponder said. “I have been given a second chance.”
— John Fritze
Fishing for votes
Jason Joyce, an eighth-generation lobsterman from Swan’s Island, Maine, said he didn’t support President Donald Trump in 2016 because he expected the president “to flip flop on his campaign promises.”
But Joyce strongly supports Trump’s reelection this year because the president listened to fishermen’s views and adopted them. In contrast, Joyce characterized the Obama administration and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, as ignoring industry views.
“As long as Trump is president, fishing families like mine will have a voice,” Joyce said. “But if Biden wins, he’ll be controlled by the environmental extremists who want to circumvent longstanding rules and impose radical changes that hurt our coastal communities.”
Trump has promoted Maine lobster since a June 5 roundtable in Bangor. He reversed the Obama administration order that closed off 5,000 square miles of ocean to fishing for what is called the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
“This action was deeply unfair to Maine lobstermen,” Trump said.
The monument is about 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod – too far for Mainers to reach. And Obama grandfathered lobster and crab harvesting for seven years in the 2016 order, so those fisheries haven’t been affected yet. But the decision still rankled fishermen.
“Although Maine’s lobstermen don’t fish there, Obama’s executive order offended us greatly. It circumvented the fisheries counsels’ input,” Joyce said. “President Trump reversed that decision, reinstating the rules that allow stakeholder input, and he supports a process that seeks and respects fishermen’s views.”
Lobster is a valuable seafood market, with 133 million pounds landed in 2017 worth nearly $600 million, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Mainers landed more than 80% of the U.S. lobster catch that year.
But trade wars have damaged the industry. The European Union agreed Friday to lift tariffs of 8% on U.S. lobster and 20% on lobster products, which had hurt trade compared to Canadian lobster that faced no tariffs.
China also imposed a tariff on U.S. lobster in 2018 that now stands at least at 35%. Trump asked the Agriculture Department for monthly reports on the China tariff starting Aug. 15.
Joyce said he strongly supported Trump’s reelection.
“When he sees something isn’t right, he’s fearless in fixing it,” Joyce said. “He listens to working people.”
— Bart Jansen
Rand Paul: ‘If you hate war … support President Trump’
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican known for his anti-interventionist view of global affairs, praised Trump’s approach to “end war rather than start one,” trying to portray a stark contrast between the president and Joe Biden when it comes to making the planet safer.
“I fear Biden will choose war again. He supported the war in Serbia, Syria, Libya. Joe Biden will continue to spill our blood and treasure. President Trump will bring our heroes home,” said Paul, who has often joined the president in calling for the wind-down of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“If you hate war like I hate war…if you want us to quit sending $50 billion every year to Afghanistan to build their roads and bridges instead of building them here at home, you need to support President Trump for another term.”
Trump has touted his unconventional strategy on foreign policy, including efforts to build bridges with authoritarian figures such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea despot Kim Jong-Un.
He’s also drawn bipartisan fire for trying to undermine the NATO alliance and for pulling troops out of Syria, a move that prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Paul, who did not appear at the RNC in 2016, had some unkind words for Trump four years ago when both were running for the White House. He called the billionaire businessman “a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag.” Trump in turn criticized Paul’s looks and called him “a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.”
— Ledyard King
Prayers for Jacob Blake during RNC
Norma Urrabazo from the International Church of Las Vegas opened Tuesday’s events with a prayer for “healing and comfort” for Jacob Blake, the Wisconsin man who was shot multiple times in the back by police officers Sunday while he was leaning into an SUV.
“I’m going to invite you to join your faith with mine and let’s prayer in agreement,” Urrabazo said. “Lord, we come before you to ask for your spirit of peace to come over hurting communities in Wisconsin tonight.”
In addition to prayer for Blake and his family, Urrabazo asked for protection for those who have “put their lives in harm’s way, to bring safety and security to our streets.”
– Maureen Groppe
RNC courts Native American vote for Trump
Native Americans will make up a tiny slice of the electorate in November, but they could have an outsized influence on the election where it counts: Several battleground states.
So it was no surprise the RNC opened its second night with Myron Lizer, vice president of the Navajo Nation – a territory that covers portions of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.
“Our people have never been invited into the American Dream,” said Lizer, who appeared with Trump at an event in Phoenix this year. “We’ve for years fought congressional battles with past congressmen and senators that were part of a broken system that ignored us.
“That is, until President Trump took office,” he said.
Lizer pointed specifically to billions of dollars in economic stimulus to help tribal communities address COVID-19.
Trump has had a complicated relationship with Native Americans. He repeated use of the word “Pocahontas” to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has been offensive to some.
More recently, Trump slammed the decision to change the name of the Washington, D.C., NFL team, a word that is a slur used to describe Native Americans.
According to the 2010 Census, 5.2 million people identified as American Indian and Alaska Native alone, or in combination with at least one other race.
The vast majority vote Democratic, except in states where energy is a large focus of the regional economy, such as Alaska, North Dakota or Oklahoma. Native Americans could also be a factor in Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
—John Fritze and Ledyard King
Trump’s surprises: Swearing in new citizens, pardoning a prison activist
President Donald Trump’s first “surprise appearance” at Tuesday’s convention session was a videotaped pardon ceremony for Jon Ponder, founder of Hope For Prisoners, a Las Vegas-based organization that helps ex-prisoners re-enter society.
“Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” Trump said in the video that was released hours before it played during the convention telecast.
The state of Nevada had already granted clemency to Ponder, a convicted bank robber.
While Trump’s praised Ponder’s work with ex-prisoners, he did not mention voting rights. The president has opposed restoring voting rights for felons and criticized governors who support the idea.
In thanking Trump for his federal pardon, Ponder said “we live in a nation of second chances.”
Richard Beasley, a retired FBI agent who once arrested Ponder but is now a friend, also appeared in the video, saying, “I’m so proud of Jon with his life’s turnaround, and for all the lives that he’s helped to change.”
Trump’s second “surprise” appearance later tonight is another previously released video of a naturalization ceremony.
Trump presided over the swearing-in of five new American citizens who were born in Bolivia, Lebanon, India, Ghana and Sudan.
“Congratulations – great going,” Trump told the group.
While Trump used the ceremony to tout the virtues of legal immigration, Democrats said his crackdowns at the border are designed to keep out any person of color.
Chad Wolf, the acting director of homeland security, gave the oath to the new citizens from five different counties. Earlier in the day, Trump announced he would nominate Wolf to the DHS job full-time.
Noting that one of the new American citizens has a degree in psychology, Trump said: “In other words, she can figure me out.”
— David Jackson
RNC viewership fell 29% from 2016
The first night of the Republican National Convention on Monday averaged 15.9 million television viewers – 29% less than viewership four years ago and 15% less than the first night of last week’s Democratic National Convention.
It closely resembles the 27% nosedive in viewers for night 1 of the DNC convention, which averaged 18.7 million viewers. The opening night of the 2016 RNC convention in Cleveland, Ohio drew about 22.5 million viewers.
The Nielsen figures, reported by Variety and the Los Angeles Times, combine viewership on the three main networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, and leading cable new networks CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
Fox News set the pace Monday leading with 7.1 million viewers followed by CNN’s 2 million viewers; ABC, nearly 2 million; NBC, 1.7 million; MSNBC, 1,6 million; and CBS, 1.5 million.
Facing challenges of a global pandemic, both conventions ditched arenas and live audiences in favor of many recorded speeches and prepackaged videos. Democrats pieced together four nights of two-hour television shows while several Republican speakers shared the same stage at Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. while President Donald Trump was featured in multiple videos shot in the White House.
Although last week’s DNC viewership was down significantly, the campaign for Democratic nominee Joe Biden touted a record 10.2 million digital viewers, totaling 28.9 million viewers overall when combined with television viewership.
— Joey Garrison
Melania Trump big draw of RNC’s second night
On its second night, the Republican National Convention will get personal.
The virtual lineup for Tuesday includes first lady Melania Trump and two of the president’s children – Eric and Tiffany – along with a series of business people, advocates for Republican causes and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Melania Trump, rarely seen campaigning with the president, will be the big draw of the evening. The first lady will speak in prime time from the newly renovated White House Rose Garden, a project she supervised.
President Donald Trump himself is also expected to show up during the online convention Tuesday. He plans to appear every night this week, leading up to his formal acceptance speech on Thursday night, also at the White House.
– David Jackson
Dems push economic counter program during RNC
The battle over who gets credit for the pre-COVID economic recovery has become a defining issue of the conventions as well as this year’s presidential election. Not surprisingly, Democrats argued Tuesday that Joe Biden deserves much of the credit.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, speaking as part of the Biden campaign’s RNC counter-programming, said it was the Obama-Biden administration that led the country out of the worst economic downturn in generations. Trump, she said, drove that progress into the ground through his trade wars and haphazard pandemic response.
“Donald Trump has severely worsened our country’s economy,” Whitmer said. “Workers and families cannot afford four more of years of that.”
Trump and other Republicans have argued that the recovery under Obama, who signed a major economic stimulus in 2009, was one of the slowest in the nation’s history. While unemployment and market indicators were improving under Obama, they note those numbers took off at a faster rate once Trump was in the White House.
The debate is important because both candidates are positioning themselves as best able to help the nation recover from the economic catastrophe caused by COVID-19.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., cited figures about how 1.5 million fewer jobs were created during the first three years of the Trump administration, compared to the final three years of the Obama administration. Booker also slammed Trump’s tax cut bill as benefiting the rich while racking up enormous federal budget deficits.
“We know people all across New Jersey are hurting and need some relief,” Booker said. “Working families know that the president isn’t looking out for them.”
– Bart Jansen and John Fritze
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