The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday morning in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the official convention business took place place, with the vote on the formal nomination of President Donald Trump.
On Monday night, viewers heard from a long list of Trump supporters, including former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley; the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.; and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who controversially waved firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters outside St. Louis, Missouri, home earlier this summer, also delivered remarks.
Trump also appeared in a video with six people who his administration helped free after they had been taken into custody in countries around the world and held sometimes for years.
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Fact check: Echoing Trump, McCloskey warns that Biden wants to abolish suburbs. (He doesn't).
Patty McCloskey, who along with her husband was caught on video brandishing firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their St. Louis home in June, used her Republican National Convention speech to accuse Joe Biden and "radical" Democrats of wanting “to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning.”
“This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into now thriving suburban neighborhoods,” said McCloskey, who, along with her husband, Mark, was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon for the June incident.
These claims are all false.
Her statement echoes a key campaign claim by Trump, who has pointed to Biden’s support for an Obama-era rule designed to combat racial discrimination in housing as the basis of this allegation.
The policy pushed by Biden, however, only aims to help the federal government work with local government agencies to create more affordable housing units in all communities. That includes in “communities where U.S. government policies purposely excluded their ability to buy homes and rent homes” — like the suburbs.
The broader rule in question, the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing rule (AFFH), was designed to help implement provisions of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Political analysts, including NBC News’ Jon Allen, have pointed out that Trump, in saying that Biden wants to abolish the suburbs," is actually saying that Biden just trying to enforce a federal rule designed to counter segregation in housing.
“His campaign sounds more like George Wallace than Ronald Reagan," Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins told Allen last month. "His message is clear: 'Elect me and I’ll keep Black people out of your neighborhoods and out of your schools.'"
Suburbs, of course, are, loosely defined; they are simply the areas around major metropolitan areas with more wealth and less housing density. And while it is accurate to say the racial composition of suburbs has changed significantly over time (in 2018, Pew reported that the white share of the population in suburban counties had fallen 8 percent, to 68 percent, since 2000), communities within suburbia remain highly segregated — for a complex set of reasons, Allen noted.
Trump, however, has said as much, arguing that local agencies should get federal housing subsidies even if they refuse to desegregate.
"The Democrats in D.C. have been and want to at a much higher level abolish our beautiful and successful suburbs by placing far-left Washington bureaucrats in charge of local zoning decisions," Trump said at a White House event last month. "Our plan is to protect the suburbs from being obliterated by Washington Democrats, by people on the far Left that want to see the suburbs destroyed — that don’t care. People who have worked all their lives to get into a community and now they’re going to watch it go to hell."
Trump Jr. blasts Biden, calls for 'an end to racism' in convention speech
Donald Trump Jr. delivered the penultimate speech at Monday night's Republican National Convention programming, blasting Democrats and Joe Biden, whom he called the “Loch Ness Monster of the swamp.”
He also lamented the so-called cancel culture and said, "Biden and the radical left are also now coming for our freedom of speech and want to bully us into submission."
"If they get their way, it will no longer be the 'Silent Majority,' it will be the ‘Silenced Majority.'"
The president's eldest son also called for putting “an end to racism,” though, peeling off from sentiment expressed by other speakers who said criticism of America as racist was misplaced.
"All men and women are created equal and must be treated equally under the law," Trump Jr. said. "That’s why we must put an end to racism, and we must ensure that any police officer who abuses their power is held accountable. What happened to George Floyd is a disgrace. And if you know a police officer, you know they agree with that, too."
Trump Jr. did have a couple of missteps in his speech, such as when he called the abbreviation for personal protective equipment "PP and E."
Nikki Haley claims American is 'not racist.'
In a speech featuring the notable claim that “America is not a racist country,” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley spoke about a Republican vision of an America with a few problems that sort of, kind of, have a bit to do with race, but not ever racism.
Haley claimed that America — a country which enshrined equality in its foundational documents while millions of Black people living here would remain enslaved for 89 years after its founding — is not a nation riddled by racism. She instead spoke of growing up a “brown” girl in a black-and-white world. She spoke of her father’s work teaching at a historically Black college. However, most historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were created during Reconstruction, in the period just after the Civil War, at a time when most Southern institutions barred Black students from enrolling. Those conditions remained until the 1960s. Reconstruction was also the period in American history when the Klu Klux Klan formed to combat and ultimately end the brief period of Black empowerment and inclusion in public life.
Haley then referred to a racist mass murder at a Charleston, South Carolina church during her time in office. At the time, Haley said the state had “stared evil in the eye,” and should not forget its history, a “tough history,” as she ordered the Confederate flag removed from the South Carolina state Capitol grounds. Today, Black Americans lag behind white Americans on almost every major measure of economic and physical well-being tracked by researchers. Haley criticized those demanding wholesale change as the wrong focus and wrong approach to improving Black life in the United States.
A few speeches later, Sen. Tim Scott reminded viewers that the Civil War also began in South Carolina.
Telehealth has expanded under Trump — but largely due to the pandemic
Telemedicine has been expanding under the Trump administration, as Amy Ford, a registered nurse, said Monday night at the convention, but that's largely due to the health crisis created by the coronavirus.
Physicians and other medical personnel were forced to meet with patients virtually as hospitals and clinics became loaded by those with COVID-19 and potentially infected.
The Trump administration expanded the services that Medicare beneficiaries could get through telemedicine in March and the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that other restrictions on privacy and on e-prescriptions for controlled substances have been loosened. Insurers, too, have made changes to increase its use.
But technological disparities in the country — communities that lack broadband and people who have little digital-savvy — mean telemedicine is not available to everyone and may make some health gaps even worse. Also, KFF reported coverage and reimbursements are not uniform and most changes to telemedicine are temporary.
Fact check: Trump suggests Democrats want to get rid of the Postal Service. That's false.
During a televised conversation with frontline workers, the president falsely suggested Democrats are the party of “getting rid of our postal workers.”
“We’re taking good care of our postal workers,” Trump said. “Believe me, we're not getting rid of our postal workers, you know? They'd like to sort of put that out there. If anyone does it's the Democrats, not the Republicans.”
Democrats have spent months pushing for more funding to the U.S. Postal Service. This past weekend, the Democratic-controlled House bill advanced a bipartisan bill that put $25 billion in emergency funding toward the struggling USPS. President Trump has opposed such funding, in part because he has said he does not want to see increased mail voting, but said he's open to a compromise.
Fact check: Trump Jr. praises father's fast response to COVID-19 threat. The U.S. lagged.
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, said Monday night that as the coronavirus "began to spread, the president acted quickly and ensured ventilators got to hospitals that needed them most.” He claimed that Trump “delivered PP and E to our brave frontline workers” and that “he rallied the mighty American private sector, to tackle this new challenge.”
Doctors, public health experts and a prominent Republican governor on the front lines of the pandemic have sharply criticized how slowly the Trump White House responded to the coronavirus, including the delays in the distribution of ventilators and personal protective equipment. Trump Jr.'s remarks omit Trump's own comments from January to March, months in which the president downplayed the threat and predicted the virus would disappear — time public health experts have contended cost the U.S. in terms of all-important testing.
Maryland’s Larry Hogan, a Republican, ripped Trump’s slow and “bungled” federal response on testing, ventilators and other equipment. Hogan, in fact, was so frustrated with the federal government’s inability to help the state acquire testing kits that he cut a deal with the South Korean government himself, going around the Trump administration, to acquire 500,000 testing kits for his state.
“I’d watched as the president downplayed the outbreak’s severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals. Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death,” Hogan wrote in an editorial for The Washington Post last month.
Trump, meanwhile, said on March 18 that he was going to invoke the Defense Production Act — a 1950 law allowing the president to force American businesses to produce materials in the national defense, such as ventilators and medical supplies for health care workers — but waited a week to actually invoke it, finally using it on March 27, to force GM to make ventilators.
During that key stretch, even hospitals and doctors implored the administration to use the Defense Production Act to increase the capacity to produce needed equipment. In a March 21 letter to Trump, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association all urged Trump to, "Immediately use the DPA to increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment that hospitals, health systems, physicians, nurses and all front line providers so desperately need.”
Meanwhile, Trump repeatedly dismissed how necessary masks were in helping to contain the spread of the disease until the middle of July — even though public health experts had long said that wearing masks in public is one of the best tools people have to cut down on transmission of the virus — saying at various points that he wanted "people to have a certain freedom" and that "masks cause problems, too."
In April, most Americans agreed that that Trump was too slow in his initial response to the threat, according to Pew Research.
Major GOP donor gives emotional speech
Maximo Alvarez, owner of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors in Florida, delivered an emotion-filled speech in favor of President Trump and against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
What stands out about Alvarez, aside from his personal story, is the amount of money he gave to Trump and the Republican National Committee before he spoke. The total, according to Federal Election Commission records, is just short of $220,000 over the last two election cycles — $150,000 for Trump and $68,900 to the RNC.
It is unusual for a political party to reserve a primetime speaking slot for someone who is both a major contributor and has not held a significant elective office.
Trump praises dictator in segment with freed hostages
In a recorded segment at Monday night’s RNC, President Trump praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while speaking with rescued American hostages, including Andrew Brunson, a pastor who was detained in Turkey — by Erdogan — several years.
"To me, President Erdogan was very good," Trump said at a meeting with hostages released under his administration.
According to Brunson’s Twitter bio he “was accused of being part of a terrorist group, the Gulen movement, and was arrested on October 7, 2016, by Turkey, latter charges of spying were added. Released October 12, 2018.”
Trump has never hid his praise for strongmen, such as Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A window on the real suburbia
A vision of the suburbs on repeat at the RNC Monday night was a crime-free zone of peace, and tranquility populated by white, gun-loving residents.
But the reality of the American suburbs and, by extension, America’s cities is something a bit different. In a series of analyses released by the Pew Research Center in 2018, researchers found that in America’s cities there is, collectively, no racial or ethnic majority. In the suburbs, white Americans make up about 68 percent of residents and Blacks and Latinos together another 25 percent. Immigrants, while still clustered in cities, are a fast-growing part of the population in suburban and rural areas too. What’s more, about 49 percent of immigrants – almost half – live in suburban areas and small cities. About 23 million poor people called the suburbs home before the pandemic. And about 35 percent of suburban residents described addiction as a “major problem” in their community, along with 50 percent of those who live in cities, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey.
The suburbs have changed so much that despite the constant RNC references to suburban utopias — ignoring the racist codicils and redlining that played a huge role in determining who could live where — the Trump campaign has said it is reconsidering this messaging.
About those Nikki Haley VP rumors...
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is speaking Monday at the Republican National Convention.
She will not be joining Donald Trump on the Republican ticket, however, as Vice President Mike Pence was renominated on Monday — squashing many months of rumors over whether Trump would replace his running mate in hopes of attracting new voters.
While speculation on the potential swap was rampant, it was not backed up by substantial reporting.