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Updates and analysis from Day 4 of the Republican National Convention

The convention concluded with President Donald Trump's acceptance speech.
Image: President Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, will be the keynote speakers on the last night of the Republican National Convention on Thursday.
President Trump and his daughter Ivanka will be the keynote speakers on the last night of the Republican National Convention on Thursday.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The final day of the Republican National Convention took place on Thursday, culminating in President Donald Trump's speech accepting the Republican nomination for president.

Other speakers on Thursday included Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and senior adviser, and Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer.

Trump delivered his speech at the White House, a decision that critics have said could be a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in certain political activities. The president and vice president are exempt from the law but other White House employees are not.

Fact check: Trump vows to 'protect' Medicare, Social Security. His budgets have sought cuts.

President Trump vowed Thursday that he “will protect Medicare and Social Security” — a promise akin to one he made as a candidate in 2016. 

But throughout his first term, he repeatedly tried to cut these programs in his proposed budgets.

His fiscal-year 2018 budget (proposed in 2017) did not include proposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security, but would have made cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance, which would have affected nearly 10 million people. 

His fiscal-year 2019 budget (proposed in 2018) proposed massive cuts to Medicare, while his fiscal-year 2020 budget (proposed in 2019) proposed cutting more than $1 trillion from Medicare over a decade, and $26 billion from Social Security programs.

His fiscal-year 2021 budget (proposed earlier this year) would cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare over 10 years.

The reason none of the changes went into effect is that Congress controls U.S. spending, not the president. And the budgets for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are essentially  renewed annually, even without congressional approval. A president’s budget proposals are more akin to a picture of the administration’s priorities. 

Additionally, the holiday on the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare, that Trump implemented via executive order earlier this summer in an attempt to stimulate a struggling economy contributes to the depletion of the accounts that fund those entitlement programs.

And Trump has said that he would make “permanent cuts” to the payroll tax — action that would require congressional approval — if he wins in November. Some experts have said that move could, in theory, totally deplete Social Security by 2023.

Fact check: 'Record' job gains still leave the U.S. labor market in worse shape than Great Recession

On the last night of his party’s convention, President Trump bragged about “record” job gains in recent months, but the 9.1 million jobs he touts come with some qualifiers.

"Over the past three months, we have gained over nine million jobs, and that’s a record in the history of our country," Trump said Thursday.

The recent job gains are still less than half the number of jobs the economy shed in March and April at the height of pandemic-ordered lockdowns. From March through July, the economy lost a net 12.9 million jobs, the most in American history.

The nearly 2 million jobs added in July also represent a sharp slowdown from the almost 5 million jobs added in June. 

And several major groups of workers are at greater risk of falling behind. Black unemployment, at 14.6 percent in July, registered less than a percentage point of improvement. Among Hispanics, the rate of unemployment also remained elevated at nearly 13 percent, compared to just nearly 9 percent for white workers.

Declaring victory is premature, especially as COVID-19 continues to inflict staggering damage to the economy, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“It still has a long way to go, and risks falling back in as the pandemic continues to rage and causes more layoffs and curtails hiring,” he said.

Trump usually includes new material in major speeches. Not tonight.

President Trump spoke for roughly 70 minutes on Thursday, one of the longest convention speeches in modern history.

But the speech contained almost nothing that Trump hasn’t already said, falling back on lines one would expect to hear in any standard fair Trump stump speech or even a coronavirus briefing: the economy is doing great, Democrats are radicals, America is winning.

The speech didn’t have one theme it was built around but rather contained an extensive and often repetitive review of Trump’s actions in office and wide-ranging criticisms of Joe Biden. Trump's address was roughly triple the length of Biden’s convention speech.

The president is known to insert new material into his speeches on the trail. It just wasn’t the case in one of the biggest speeches of his presidency.

Trump speech missing several of his favorite talking points

While President Trump launched attack after attack on Joe Biden, he left out a number of his favorite topics of criticism in his acceptance speech. 

He made no mention of mail-in voting, which he has alleged, without evidence, will lead to widespread voter fraud and could prevent the country from ever knowing the result of the election. There is no evidence that mail-in voting is at risk for fraud.

Trump also avoided bringing up Biden’s son Hunter, a line of attack his campaign believed at one point would be central to their takedown of Biden. He also made no mention of Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, who his campaign has struggled to find an effective way to criticize.

With protests raging outside the White House gates and in Wisconsin over racial injustice, Trump made only a passing mention of race and there was no mention of racism.

Fact check: Trump claims Biden wants to 'close all charter schools.' That's false.

"Biden also vowed to oppose school choice and close all charter schools, ripping away the ladder of opportunity for Black and Hispanic children," Trump claimed on Tuesday night.

This is false. The Biden campaign does not oppose charter schools, though they've advocated against for-profit charter schools and supported different regulations and oversight of the schools.

And while "school choice" is a buzzy word, it can means different things to different people. Trump supports letting students take federal funds to private schools, something Joe Biden and many Democrats oppose, instead supporting allowing families to make choices within publicly-funded school districts.

Fact check: Trump repeats out-of-context Biden comment to mislead on police stance

President Trump, arguing that Americans wouldn't be safe under Joe Biden, repeated a claim Mike Pence made Wednesday, quoting the former vice president as saying, "Yes, absolutely," as a response to whether he'd broadly support cutting funding for law enforcement.

"When asked if he supports cutting police funding, Joe Biden replied, yes, absolutely," Trump said Thursday night.

The accusation repeats, nearly verbatim, a false claim touted in a series of ads being run by the Trump campaign and by the pro-Trump PAC America First Action.

In one such ad, a narrator discusses how "the radical left wing of the Democratic Party has taken control" and says, "Joe Biden stands with them and embraces their policies — defunding the police."

Biden is then heard saying, "Yes, absolutely." Another ad follows the same pattern, with a narrator saying Biden supports "reducing police funding" and Biden saying, "Yes, absolutely."

The remark in both ads that Pence cited is taken out of context. It is from a July interview with NowThis News, in which Biden is responding to a question from progressive activist Ady Barkan about whether some government funding for law enforcement should redirected to other areas, like increased social services.

"Yes, absolutely," Biden replies.

Biden has explicitly said he doesn't support "defunding" the police. In an interview with CBS News, he said he instead supports "conditioning federal aid to police, based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness."

Fact check: Trump boasts of delivering PPE early in pandemic, doesn't mention ongoing shortages

"We shipped hundreds of millions of masks, gloves and gowns to our frontline health care workers. To protect our nation’s seniors, we rushed supplies, testing kits, and personal — to nursing homes, we gave everything you can possibly give and we’re still giving it because we’re taking care of our senior citizens," Trump said on Thursday night, talking up his COVID-19 response.

In the early days of the pandemic, the Trump administration did indeed procure millions of supplies, even flying personal protective equipment (PPE) in from overseas, with much fanfare and often exaggerated numbers

But Trump fails to mention that the shortages of PPE and critical testing supplies are ongoing. 

One in five U.S. nursing homes faced severe shortages of PPE this summer, according to a study released in August. The American Medical Association decried the “persistent shortage” of N95 masks and other protective equipment yesterday.

"It is hard to believe that our nation finds itself dealing with the same shortfalls in PPE witnessed during the first few weeks that SARS-CoV-2 began its unrelenting spread,” the group’s president, Dr. Susan Bailey, said on August 26th. “But that same situation exists today, and in many ways things have only gotten worse.”

Trump mentions Kenosha, not Jacob Blake

Midway through his speech Thursday, Donald Trump mentioned Kenosha, Wisconsin — but did not make mention of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by the city's police.

He began by saying: “We have to give law enforcement, our police, back their power.”

“They are afraid to act,” he continued. “They are afraid to lose their pension. They are afraid to lose their jobs, and by being afraid they are not able to do their jobs. And those who suffer most are the great people who they want so desperately to protect.”

“When there is police misconduct, the justice system must hold wrongdoers fully and completely accountable, and it will,” he continued. “But what we can never have in America — and must never allow —is mob rule. In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson, and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, and New York.”

Trump did not make mention of the pro-police sympathizer and Trump-supporter who is alleged of shooting and killing two protesters in Kenosha earlier this week. Some have connected Trump's rhetoric to the actions taken by the armed teen. 

Fact check: Trump hammers Biden on NAFTA support, which he said killed jobs. He's right.

President Trump used part of his speech Thursday night to hammer Joe Biden on his support of “catastrophic” trade deals he said bled U.S. jobs to other countries.

“Biden voted for the NAFTA disaster, the single worst trade deal ever enacted; he supported China's entry into the World Trade Organization, one of the greatest economic disasters of all time. After those Biden calamities, the United States lost 1 in 4 manufacturing jobs,” Trump said. 

This claim is true, although trade was not the only reason that U.S. companies shed these jobs.

Job losses resulting from NAFTA tend to be overstated — but one major study found that more than 850,000 jobs were displaced by the pact. 

Robert E. Scott of the pro-labor Economic Policy Institute found that about 851,700 U.S. jobs were displaced by the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico from 1993 (shortly before NAFTA was implemented) to 2014. (Other studies, however, have found the job losses to be far less.)

When it comes to normalizing trade relations with China — a status President George W. Bush formally granted in 2001 after China entered the World Trade Organization — U.S. job losses have been larger, according to studies.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service wrote in 2018, citing a 2014 study by the Economic Policy Institute, that “growth in the U.S. goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013 eliminated or displaced 3.2 million U.S. jobs (three-fourths of which were in manufacturing).”

If you add the 851,700 figure with the 3.2 million figure, you would see a figure that approximates 4 million, which is roughly 25 percent of the estimated 17 million manufacturing jobs that existed in 1994.

Experts have pointed out, however, that technology and automation has likely had at least as much of an effect on these losses in manufacturing jobs, with many noting that the losses would have occurred (although possibly at lower rates) even without NAFTA.

Trump brags about COVID-19 success as cases near 6 million, over 180K deaths

Trump spent a portion of his speech praising his response to the coronavirus, which has received scant mentions during the RNC this week while attempting to paint a rosy picture of it being a thing of the past.

He claimed his administration has “pioneered” treatments and America “has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country in the world.” COVID-19 has killed tens of thousands of Americans from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Guam to the continental United States.

It has claimed the lives of more than 180,000 people in the U.S. since the end of February and has neared 6 million cases, according to an NBC News tally.