Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said during his RNC speech Thursday that Democrats “want to defund the police” and that they “want free health care for illegal immigrants.”
The first claim is misleading, and the second false. Though some progressives within the Democratic Party do support calls to “defund the police,” the official Democratic Party platform, approved last week, includes no reference to it. And, as NBC News has pointed out on the the first, second and third nights of the RNC, Joe Biden, the party’s nominee, does not support defunding the police. He has explicitly said so on multiple occasions. (He does support various measures of reform.)
NBC News has an explainer on the different — and sometimes overlapping — proposals from activists on how to address police violence here.
Additionally, while some on the left have called for free health care for undocumented immigrants, Biden has not. He supports allowing undocumented immigrants to purchase health care with their own money, they would not be eligible for taxpayer-funded subsidies. The official Democratic Party platform calls for “extending Affordable Care Act coverage to Dreamers, and working with Congress to lift the five-year waiting period for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility for low-income, lawfully present immigrants.”
McConnell also said Democrats want to make Washington, D.C., “America’s 51st state.”
This is true. Biden supports this and the Democrats included the stance in their official party platform.
McConnell talks up his blocking of Democratic legislation
Mitch McConnell pitched Republican control of the Senate as a “firewall” against House Democrats’ legislative aims in a speech before the Republican National Convention on Thursday.
McConnell, who has embraced himself as the “grim reaper” of Democratic legislation, blocking one Democratic initiative after another since they regained control of the House in early 2019, said he is “immensely proud of the work the Republican Senate has done.”
“We are the firewall against Nancy Pelosi’s agenda,” he said. “Like President Trump, we won’t be bullied by a liberal media intent on destroying America’s institutions. We will stand our post on behalf of the millions of Americans whose stories aren’t told in today’s newspapers. Whose struggles are just as real. We will continue to support American families as we defeat the coronavirus and return our economy to the envy of the world.”
Ja’Ron Smith, one of the top Black officials in the White House, touts Trump’s empathy
Ja’Ron Smith, an assistant to the president and one of the top senior officials in the administration who is Black, gave a speech touting Trump’s empathy on the final night of the RNC.
“In the wake of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and LeGend Taliferro, a moment of national racial consciousness. I have seen his true conscience. I just wish everyone could see the deep empathy he shows to families whose loved ones were killed in senseless violence,” he said.
However, during the week of the RNC, the racial unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin prompted by the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, has barely been mentioned. Also, no mention of the continued unrest prompted by the killing of two people allegedly by a 17-year-old white Trump supporter.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also said Thursday no one from the White House has spoken to Blake’s family, but Meadows reached out to the family’s pastor and conveyed the message of the president’s sympathies.
Huge crowds gather to both watch and protest Trump speech
Ex-Democrat Van Drew, who voted against Trump’s impeachment, makes RNC debut
Jeff Van Drew, the New Jersey Republican who changed his party affiliation after voting against Donald Trump’s impeachment, will speak at the Republican convention on Thursday.
Van Drew joins a limited number of Democrats or former Democrats who spoke on Trump’s behalf at his re-nominating convention. It provides a contrast with Biden, who featured higher-profile Republicans speaking at his event.
Meanwhile, scores of former Republican administration officials have endorsed Biden’s campaign, including dozens of former George W. Bush staffers who announced their intent to back Biden this week.
There’s also a small group of former Trump administration officials who worked in the Department of Homeland Security who have chosen to back Biden.
But Van Drew’s speech provides Trump a lane to show the opposite effect of his presidency on some Democrats. Trump made a big show of Van Drew switching parties during the impeachment process and hosted him at the White House for a meeting.
Giuliani tells NBC News he will attack Biden on police brutality protests
Rudy Giuliani, who has served as Donald Trump’s lawyer and a top confidant, in his speech Thursday night will attack Joe Biden over violence in U.S. cities over the summer.
Giuliani’s speech will fall in line with what has been the main theme of Trump’s convention — hammering Biden over protests against police brutality, some of which have led to violence or vandalism. Just this week, a pro-police sympathizer allegedly shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times by police.
“Biden and his fellow Democrats were widely criticized for not speaking up about the out-of-control violence plaguing Democrat cities in our country,” Giuliani told NBC News in a text message. “You would expect they would feel obligated to suggest some policy changes. Yet they said nothing about the alarming growth of murder and riots and attempts to end policing.”
“Their silence was so deafening that it reveals an acceptance of this violence because they will accept anything they hope will defeat President Donald Trump,” he added.
Biden, who has criticized the violence, addressed the attacks on Thursday, telling MSNBC Trump “views this as a political benefit” and that the president is “rooting for more violence, not less.”
In a subsequent statement, Biden said, “Last night, Vice President Mike Pence stood before America and with a straight face said, ‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.’ His proof? The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.”
Biden’s comments followed countless speeches at the RNC this week hitting him over the unrest. Earlier Thursday, departing White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said, “the more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety.”
COVID tests, masks not required for Trump speech
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Thursday that “a number of” GOP convention guests at the White House tonight will have been tested for COVID-19 but that “you make choices individually.”
“I think it’s a pretty safe environment, given the circumstances,” Meadows said. “I’m not worried about that based on the protocols that we have in place.”
Chairs set up on the lawn ahead of the speech were well under 6 feet apart, flouting local social distancing guidelines. With a crowd of more than 1,000 people, tonight’s speech appears to be the largest non-socially-distanced White House event in the COVID era. The crowd is made up of a mix of GOP lawmakers, delegates, friends, family and donors from all over the country — some of whom have flown in.
Masks were not required.
White House or Trump rally?
The crowded scene on the White House’s South Lawn for Trump’s speech
Biden says he’s returning to the physical campaign trail
Joe Biden said Thursday that he plans on returning to the real-life campaign trail after Labor Day.
At a virtual fundraiser with Illinois attorneys, Biden was asked if he planned to resume physical campaigning in battleground states.
Biden said he plans to do so, but “without jeopardizing or violating state rules about how many people can in fact assemble. One of the things we’re thinking about is I’m going to be going up into Wisconsin, and Minnesota, spending time in Pennsylvania, out in Arizona.”
“We’re going to do it in a way that is totally consistent with being responsible, unlike what this guy’s doing,” he said, referring to the president’s handling of the coronavirus. “He’s totally irresponsible.”
He added that he’s missed being on the trail — and acknowledged he has to make changes to his style.
“I’m a tactile politician. I really miss being able to, you know, grab hands, shake hands. You can’t do that now,” he said.