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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.

4 takeaways from RNC, Night 4: Trump takes aim at Biden's 'empathy' edge

President Trump accepted the Republican nomination for a second term Thursday on a White House lawn packed with supporters, many of whom weren’t wearing masks as he pledged to "defeat the virus" and "again build the greatest economy in history."

It was a largely standard speech from Trump — a defense of his record, optimistic predictions of a COVID-19 vaccine "this year," and a fiery indictment of Democratic nominee Joe Biden that included myriad exaggerations or falsehoods. Trump portrayed Biden, a moderate Democrat, as "a Trojan horse for socialism" who would grant "free rein to violent anarchists, agitators, and criminals" if he were president.

The speech was delivered in a more subdued tone before a smaller crowd than he had hoped for when the year began, marking the end of a four-day convention that kicks off the final stretch of the 2020 campaign.

Here are four takeaways from the event.

Biden camp: Over 3,500 Americans died from COVID during GOP convention

President Trump covered a lot of ground in his lengthy speech accepting the GOP nomination Thursday, but Joe Biden's campaign said the one thing it lacked was a plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

"Since the beginning of the Republican convention, at least 3,525 Americans have lost their lives to the coronavirus," Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

"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," she added.

Trump spoke to over 1,000 guests on the South Lawn of the White House, where chairs were arranged close together and few wore masks. Biden's press secretary, TJ Ducklo, quipped on Twitter that it was, the "lowest energy superspreader event I've ever seen."

Read more here.

Near Trump campaign fireworks, a reminder of COVID deaths

Protesters with the Democratic National Committee stand outside the White House during Trump campaign fireworks after President Donald Trump spoke from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 27, 2020.Democratic National Committee

Fox News panel offers tepid reaction to Trump speech

"Flat," "didn't have the bite he usually has," and "too long."

Those were just a few of the reactions from the Fox News panel that provided immediate analysis of President Trump's speech.

With fireworks and opera in the background, Chris Wallace, moderator of "Fox News Sunday," said he was "surprised by the lack of fireworks" in the speech. Brit Hume, Fox's senior political analyst, said it was too long and agreed with Wallace that it felt flat. Dana Perino, a Fox anchor, gave the president points for hitting Biden hard but agreed it was on the long side.

Fox host Juan Williams and former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile, who bring a liberal perspective to the panel, didn't offer anything more positive, with Williams saying he was "disappointed" in the speech.

Karl Rove, a political contributor for Fox, was less critical but did not offer a ringing endorsement, instead breaking down how much time Trump spent on each topic. 

The panel's end led into the start of Laura Ingraham's show, where the host offered a quick change of perspective, calling it an "incredible and electric speech" while noting that, yes, some people thought it was too long.

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.