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Updates and analysis from Day 3 of the Republican National Convention

Wednesday's speakers included Mike and Karen Pence, Kellyanne Conway, Sen. Joni Ernst, Gov. Kristi Noem and Lara Trump.
Image: Vice President Mike Pence will be the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night.
Vice President Mike Pence will be the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The Republican National Convention continued Wednesday with speeches from Vice President Mike Pence, his wife, Karen Pence, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

Pence delivered the evening's keynote address from Baltimore's Fort McHenry, whose defense of the city's harbor from the British in the War of 1812 inspired the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and he's expected to lean heavily on patriotic themes as he makes the case for a second term and draws a contrast with former Vice President Joe Biden.

Conway had one of her most highest-profile moments just days before she leaves the White House. The senior adviser, who managed the president's campaign in the final months of the 2016 election, has announced she will leave the administration at the end of the month to focus more on her family.

Other featured speakers included White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany; Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa; South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem; the president's daughter-in-law and campaign adviser Lara Trump; and the former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading RNC news from this week.

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Pence touts Trump's pandemic response, promises vaccine by end of 2020

Mike Pence offered a vigorous defense of the administration’s response to COVID-19, despite routine criticism of its lackluster response to the pandemic. 

He touted the administration’s efforts to get personal protective equipment to frontline workers, which health care professionals have said was insufficient given the severity of the virus, which has killed more than 180,000 people.

“What Joe [Biden] doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles and we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year,” Pence said, referring to Operation Warp Speed, the program to develop an effective coronavirus treatment. 

While scientists have made considerable progress in developing a safe and effective vaccine, it's far from assured that one will be ready to be delivered by the end of the year.

Grenell defends nationalism and 'America First'

Richard Grenell, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany and acting Director of National Intelligence, provided a staunch defense of President Trump's foreign policy record and of the idea of nationalism.

"The Washington elites want you to think this kind of foreign policy is immoral. And so they call it 'nationalist,'" Grenell said. "That tells you all you need to know. The D.C. crowd thinks when they call Donald Trump a nationalist, they’re insulting him. As if the American president isn’t supposed to base foreign policy on America’s national interests."

For decades, nationalism was considered a distasteful political platform for its association with the wars that destroyed significant parts of Europe. But Trump has embraced nationalism, at least in name, with his "America First" policies that have included aggressive actions on immigration and trade.

Lara Trump offers prayers to those in the path of Hurricane Laura

Lara Trump delivered the first significant mention of Hurricane Laura. 

She offered prayers to the "Gulf states in the path of the hurricane."

The hurricane strengthened to a Category 4 storm Wednesday as it prepares to make landfall along the Texas and Louisiana border overnight. Public health emergencies were declared in Texas and Louisiana.

Lara Trump joins other speakers in saying you won’t be safe under Biden

Lara Trump joined a chorus of speakers at the Republican National Convention so far who have claimed America will no longer be safe under Joe Biden — nevermind that much of the violent imagery Americans are consuming through the media is taking place in the country Donald Trump is leading.

“In recent months, we have seen weak, spineless politicians cede control of our great American cities to violent mobs,” Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife and a top Trump campaign adviser, said. "Defund the police is the rallying cry for the new, radical Democrat Party."

“Joe Biden will not do what it takes to maintain order,” she continued. “To keep our children safe in our neighborhoods and in their schools. To restore our American way of life. 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.”

It’s a theme we’ve heard echoed again and again and again — should Trump lose, no one is safe. This message comes against a backdrop of more than 175,000 people having died in a pandemic this year and social unrest that has led to widespread protesting in response to police shootings of Black men and women.

RNC celebrates Henderson’s role in civil rights movement while Trump criticizes anti-racism protesters

On Feb. 1, 1960, four students from the historically black college North Carolina A&T walked into a whites-only Greenboro dinner to order lunch and stayed at the counter until closing, demanding to be served. 

The next day, more students joined — including RNC speaker Clarence Henderson — in what would be a series of protests that propelled the civil rights movement.  Their actions inspired similar protests across the segregated South, which then led to the federal law that prohibited segregation in public places. 

The RNC's celebration of Henderson's civil rights activism is in stark contrast with President Trump’s frequent criticism of civil rights protesters. Earlier this year, Trump called largely peaceful protesters, who were outraged by the murder of George Floyd, “thugs” and saying that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” He has also over the years been sharply critical of athletes' attempts to call attention to racism by taking a knee during the national anthem.

Fact check: Cawthorn said James Madison signed the Declaration of Independence. He didn't.

North Carolina Republican congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn, 25, urged viewers to consult their U.S. history books in his speech Wednesday night.

But he gets a few things wrong. 

"If you don't think young people can change the world, then you just don't know American history," Cawthorn said. "George Washington was 21 when he received his first military commission. Abe Lincoln — 22 when he first ran for office. And my personal favorite, James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence."

Madison, considered one of the country's Founding Fathers, didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence. Washington was actually 20 at the time of his first commission, and Lincoln was 23 when he first ran for office.

Trump has arrived at Fort McHenry for Pence's speech

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump exited Marine One and are making their way to the speech location.

 

The audience is ready for Pence at Fort McHenry

Vice President Mike Pence is getting ready to speak at Fort McHenry, and he'll have an audience.

The attendees include Corey Lewandowski and Pam Bondi. Fox News’ Sean Hannity has a riser set up off to the side.

The audience looks to be about 100 people, with seats about an arm's length apart.

Former NFL player claims Trump never called white nationalist rallygoers 'very fine people'

Jack Brewer, a former NFL player, said it was a lie that President Trump called white nationalist rallygoers in Charlottesville, Virginia "very fine people."

After counter-protesters clashed with the 2017 white nationalist rally, Trump said, “You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”

Brewer was one of a handful of former Black football players, including Burgess Owens and Herschel Walker, who spoke on Trump’s behalf at the convention as he seeks to get his poll numbers with Black Americans to tick slightly upwards.

Earlier this month, Brewer was charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. His charge is tied to civil, not criminal, penalties.