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Updates and analysis from Day 2 of the Republican National Convention

First lady Melania Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Eric and Tiffany Trump spoke on Tuesday
Image: First lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on a background of stage lights and dark red curtains.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The Republican National Convention continued Tuesday with speeches from first lady Melania Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and two of Trump's children.

Melania Trump headlined Tuesday night's line-up with a speech from the White House, where she is reflected on her time as first lady, making the case why her husband deserves another four years.

Pompeo, meanwhile, addressed the convention from Jerusalem, a move that has drawn fire from diplomats and breaks with long-standing tradition aimed at keeping U.S. foreign policy separate from domestic politics.

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

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Melania Trump's speech strikes decidedly different tone on pandemic and race than her husband's

Melania Trump used her keynote speech at the Republican National Convention to strike a decidedly different tone than her husband or a number of other prominent speakers who preceded her.

It began with the coronavirus pandemic, of which she expressed her “deepest sympathy ... to everyone who has lost a loved one.” More than 800,000 have died globally with nearly 180,000 of those deaths in the U.S.

“My prayers are with those who are ill or suffering,” she said. “I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone.”

That came after Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, hours earlier referred to the pandemic in the past tense.

While prior speakers like Nikki Haley said America is not racist, the first lady said the racial unrest in the country speaks to “a harsh reality” in the country.

“We are not proud of parts of our history,” she said, adding, “I urge people to come together: stop the violence and looting, though done in the name of justice. Never judge anyone based on the color of their skin."

Later, she said she did not want to spend time “attacking the other side” because that “only serves to divide the country further.”

Certainly, that was a turn from prior RNC speakers, like Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who said no one in the country will be safe if Joe Biden wins.

On her husband, the first lady said, “Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking.”

Melania touts beauty of Africa in RNC speech. Trump had a different description.

During her headlining speech at the RNC Tuesday night, Melania Trump spoke warmly of her visit to several African countries in 2018.

She called it a “vast and beautiful” continent in which she visited various countries, such as Ghana, and learned about the cultures and also the slave trade. This is, of course, in contrast with her husband.  The president has referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries" during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House in 2018. 

Later in her speech, the first lady also touched on the current protests surrounding racial injustice. 

"It's a harsh reality, we are not proud of parts of our history," she said. The line was a notable contrast to her husband, a strong critic of the protest movement who has vocally defended Confederate Flags and monuments.

Daniel Cameron, Kentucky's Republican attorney general, excoriates Biden in speech

Daniel Cameron, a Republican who is Kentucky's attorney general, excoriated Biden in his speech at the RNC on Tuesday night over the former vice president’s previous comments on race. 

“The question is: Will we choose the path that gives us the best chance to meet those universal desires? Or will we go backward, to a time when people were treated like political commodities who can’t be trusted to think for themselves?” Cameron, who is Black said, a common refrain from Black conservatives who argue the Democratic Party takes Black voters for granted. 

He called Biden a “backwards thinker” with a “trail of discredited ideas and offensive statements” — one of the most forceful rebukes of Biden from one of the top Black Republicans in the country. 

“I think often about my ancestors who struggled for freedom. And as I think of those giants and their broad shoulders, I also think about Joe Biden, who says, ‘If you aren’t voting for me, you ain’t black,’ who argued that Republicans would put us ‘back in chains,’ who says there is no ‘diversity’ of thought in the black community," he said. 

Biden has apologized for his comments after intense scrutiny, but Cameron’s speech signals the problems both parties have with race. Although Black voters support Biden overwhelmingly, he has struggled with younger Black voters.

Trump has also been accused of using racial slurs, including the N-word. Cameron himself has also been under scrutiny over the killing of 26-year-old EMT and aspiring nurse Breonna Taylor. Protesters have called on officials to charge and arrest the officers who killed Taylor in her own home on March 13.

Fact check: Eric Trump falsely says Biden wants to defund police

"Biden has pledged to defund the police," the president's son said Tuesday.

The assertion, made or insinuated in multiple speeches at the RNC, is inaccurate. Biden rejected those calls from the hard left in June, telling CBS News: "No, I don't support defunding the police."

He has instead proposed to increase police funding by "reinvigorate the COPS program with a $300 million investment," according to his official justice platformCOPS refers to Community Oriented Policing Services, a program that seeks to bolster community-based policing. 

Pompeo praises Trump from Jerusalem amid backlash

Pompeo addressed the RNC, speaking from Jerusalem in an unprecedented political moment for the country's top diplomat

He promoted Trump's agenda abroad, saying that it "may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it has worked."

His speech was met with backlash even before it aired. 

Diplomats who are barred by law from mixing work and politics say they're appalled by Pompeo's decision to address the RNC, breaking with long-standing traditions aimed at isolating American's foreign policy from partisan battles at home.

It would be problematic enough, current and former U.S. diplomats said, if Pompeo were simply showing up at the convention to speak. But Pompeo's decision to use a stop in Jerusalem during an official overseas trip as the site for his recorded speech to fellow Republicans raises even more troubling questions about the message it sends to other countries and whether U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill, they said.

The speech is also under investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subpanel on oversight.

Eric Trump drops a chilling line from Reagan, but its context isn't quite right

Eric Trump channeled Ronald Reagan during his speech with the line: "One day we could spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States, where men and women were free."

It's certainly a striking line, and one Eric Trump used to warn about what would happen if "the extreme left" takes power in the U.S. But the context here is notable. The line is from a 1961 speech from Reagan who, as an actor, was arguing against Medicare, the national health insurance system that is now used by more than 60 million older Americans and people with disabilities. 

It's a program that could be expanded if Biden wins.

Trump's RNC White House naturalization ceremony raises Hatch Act red flag

The Hatch Act generally prohibits federal employees aside from the president from engaging in political activities in their official capacity, and critics charged that DHS Secretary Chad Wolf's presiding over a naturalization ceremony filmed for the Republican National Convention may have been a violation. The use of the White House as a backdrop for the event also raised red flags.

Accusations of Hatch Act violations are not new to the Trump administration. Violations can result in disciplinary actions or removal from the government, though such a strong response has not taken place in light of high profile instances.

Another potential violation occurred later in the convention, with Pompeo's speech.

The Hatch Act began trending on Twitter during the convention's second hour.

Fact check: Eric Trump falsely claims Biden wants to 'take away' the Second Amendment

Eric Trump claimed Tuesday that Joe Biden has pledged to “take away our cherished Second Amendment.”

Biden has pledged no such thing.

Biden’s gun control plan includes a push for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, incentivizing states to pass and enforce “red flag” laws (measures that would allow law enforcement to temporarily seize guns from people found to be a danger to themselves or to others), an effort to have all guns sold be “smart guns” (personalized guns that use various technologies to prevent anyone other than an authorized user from firing the weapon).

The plan calls for many other measures, too, including the regulation of the possession of existing assault weapons and the closing of the “hate crime” loophole and the “Charleston” loophole, which allows the sale of a firearm if a background check is not completed within three days.

Those measures, which would be extremely unlikely to pass a divided Congress even if Biden were elected, do not “take away” the Second Amendment because none of Biden’s measures would confiscate all guns.

"I'm not opposed to the Second Amendment," Biden has said on numerous occasions. "The Second Amendment isn't absolute, though. Like any other amendment, it's not absolute."

Eric Trump may have been repeating a claim hurled at Biden in March when the former vice president was touring a car factory. During his visit, Biden told a factory worker he was “full of s---” after the man claimed Biden was going to take away his guns. A clip of their interaction went viral.

Fact check: Eric Trump says Biden wants 'amnesty and health care' for undocumented immigrants

“Biden has pledged to stop border wall construction and give amnesty and health care to all illegal immigrants,” the president’s son, Eric Trump, said Tuesday night.

This is misleading. While it's true that Biden has pledged to stop construction of the border wall Trump made a key 2016 campaign promise, he has hardly proposed amnesty and free health care for all undocumented immigrants. 

Biden supports allowing undocumented immigrants to purchase health care with their own money; he does not support using taxpayer-funded subsidies for undocumented immigrants’ insurance. And he supports legislative immigration reform that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have passed background checks and are up-to-date on taxes. 

Family is supposed to humanize the candidate, but Trump’s kids have given stump speeches

During national nominating conventions, family members and spouses play more than an ornamental role. They come out and usually share a funny anecdote or positive character trait to humanize the candidate to voters. 

For instance, during the 2016 RNC, Ivanka Trump spoke of playing with Legos in her father’s office as a kid. At this year’s RNC, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump — the two who have spoken so far — delivered anti-Biden stump speeches rather than a fuller portrait of their father. 

(Eric did speak directly to his father in his speech, saying he was proud to fight for him.)

Tiffany Trump stands on stage before she tapes her speech for the second day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington on Aug. 25, 2020.Susan Walsh / AP

 

“This is a fight for freedom versus oppression, for opportunity versus stagnation, a fight to keep America true to America,” Tiffany said Tuesday night.

On Monday night, Donald Trump Jr. said: “Joe Biden is basically the Loch Ness monster of the Swamp. For the past ­half-century, he’s been lurking around in there.”

Biden’s children spoke about their dad in glowing, personal tones and the DNC included a montage of his son Beau, who died in 2015, also talking about his dad beyond politics.

While three of the children gave speeches largely devoid of any personal touches — with Ivanka slated to speak Thursday — the role of the president’s family so far at the RNC has been as general election surrogates.