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The Democratic and GOP conventions couldn't be more different

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Delegates begin to arrive for the first day of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C.
Delegates begin to arrive for the first day of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C.Chris Carlson / AP

WASHINGTON — Last week’s Democratic convention and this week’s Republican one feature two fundamentally different parties, with fundamentally different sets of values and leaders.

So you have last week’s social distancing and masks at the virtual Democratic convention, versus this week’s live audiences and (most likely) fewer masks at the GOP one.

Last week’s speech by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., versus this week’s appearance by Mark and Patricia McCloskey.

Last week’s reliance on science and technocratic solutions, versus this week’s reliance on President Trump and his family.

Last week’s parade of past presidents and presidential nominees, versus this week’s complete absence of them.

Last week’s support for DREAMers, versus this week’s expected talk about Trump’s border wall.

Last week’s talk of Black Lives Matter and climate change, versus this week’s expected talk on police and the protests in Portland.

And maybe most telling of all, last week’s Democratic Party platform hammered out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders supporters, versus this week’s GOP not passing a party platform and simply stating that it backs Trump’s “America-first agenda.”

Bottom line: It’s the party of Obama (after all, Biden was his VP), versus the party of Trump.

The contrast — in the speeches, speaking lineup and policies — couldn’t be clearer.

How do you sell optimism in this environment?

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller said this week’s Republican convention would be “optimistic and upbeat.”

“We're going to talk about the American story, about all the accomplishments that we've had over the last four years with President Trump and what the president's second-term vision is going to look like,” he added.

But the biggest challenge for Trump and Republicans is selling optimism at a time when nearly 180,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus in just six months; when the current unemployment rate (10.2 percent) is higher than it ever was during the Great Recession; when colleges and universities are canceling in-person classes; and when so many children across the country are beginning school at home.

These numbers from an online CBS/YouGov poll tell the story: Just 35 percent of all voters say America is better off than it was four years ago, versus 75 percent of Republicans who say this.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

5,720,564: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 119,644 more than Friday morning.)

177,728: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 2,306 more than Friday morning.)

71.69 million: The number of coronavirus tests administered in the U.S., according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

More than 534,000: The number of mail ballots that were rejected in primaries across 23 states, per the Washington Post.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: It’s Day One of the Republican convention

It’s the first night of the Republican convention, and the major speakers include:

  • Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
  • Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley
  • Mark and Patricia McCloskey
  • GOP congressional candidate Sean Parnell
  • Montana businesswoman Tanya Weinreis
  • Donald Trump Jr.

Meanwhile, President Trump delivers remarks in North Carolina at 1:30 pm ET, and then he returns to Washington, D.C., where he will make some kind of appearance/speech at the convention.

Ad watch from Ben Kamisar

Today’s Ad Watch is about seizing an opportunity.

Days after President Trump called for a boycott of Goodyear, a company that’s been in the battleground state of Ohio for more than a century, Joe Biden’s campaign is seizing on the call in new campaign ads.

The new advertisements, which will run on TV and YouTube, accuse Trump of attacking “an American company with a 122 year history, thousands of American workers and competitors all over the world,” and risking “American jobs to try to save his own.”

The spots are targeted to run both near Goodyear’s Akron headquarters as well as near a Goodyear manufacturing plant in Fayetteville, N.C.

Both Ohio and North Carolina are red-leaning states where Trump is trying to hold on. But it looks like the Democrats believe Trump just gave them a gift.

House Dems pass Postal Service bill

On Saturday, the Dem-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill giving $25 billion in emergency funds to the U.S. Postal Service and reversing cost-cutting changes made by the Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy.

But the bill is unlikely to gain any real traction in the Republican-led Senate (and the Senate is still on recess, with a 24-hour window given if they need to come back to Washington to pass coronavirus relief).

After Democrats (with a few Republican crossovers) passed the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, "House Democrats have spent weeks ignoring the urgent needs of American workers and families, but they rushed back to Washington the instant that overblown conspiracy theories about the U.S. Postal Service convinced them their own jobs might be in jeopardy.”

While McConnell called the concerns a conspiracy theory, he has signaled that he’d be open to additional aid for the postal service, just that he was against putting it in a standalone bill like House Democrats did.

You can read more about the weekend’s events here.

The Lid: Recapping last week

Don’t miss the pod from Friday, when we looked back at what we learned during the Democrats’ virtual convention.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A big challenge for Trump this week is overcoming the trust gap.

Kellyanne Conway is leaving the White House at the end of the month.

Here’s how the White House is becoming a campaign venue for the week.

Concern is growing about the accuracy of the Census count.

Trump is laying out more about his second-term agenda.

The Trump administration is giving emergency authorization for the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19.

Twitter added a warning label to one of the president’s tweets about voting drop boxes.

Mark Meadows dodged questions about QAnon.

The president has his facts wrong about what happens if the election winner is still unclear in December.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did their first joint TV interview over the weekend.