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Wake Up To Politics - August 24, 2020

It’s Monday, August 24, 2020. Election Day is 71 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Republicans launch convention as Trump seeks campaign reset

The Republican National Convention will begin today as GOP delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina, gather to formally renominate President Donald Trump for another four years in office.

While parts of the convention — such as the nomination roll call vote this morning — will take place in person, much of the RNC programming will be a virtual stream of speeches from different locations across the country, like its Democratic counterpart last week.

According to Politico, the president and his top aides were closely watching the virtual Democratic production, taking notes on what worked and what fell flat. But Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, claimed in a USA Today op-ed that the biggest difference in the two conventions will be thematic: “Instead of the depressing, doom-and-gloom convention Democrats staged,” she wrote, “President Trump and Republicans are going to cast an aspirational, forward-looking vision of America.”

The convention comes at crucial time for the Trump campaign, as the president trails Democratic nominee Joe Biden by an average of 9.2% in public opinion polls, according to FiveThirtyEight. A pair of recent polls over the weekend found that Biden’s lead remained stable after his party’s convention last week (+10 in a CBS News poll, +9 in a Morning Consult poll). Biden may not have received a traditional “convention bump” in either survey, but his favorability ratings did go up in both.

A number of Trump aides and family members will address the convention this week; the speaker list is dominated by the president’s fiercest allies in the party. Tonight’s lineup of speakers include the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and the junior Trump’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, as well as a number of figures who have gone viral within the party base, such as Mark and Patrica McCloskey (the gun-toting couple from St. Louis) and Maryland congressional candidate Kim Klacick (whose ad walking through Baltimore has received more than 10 million views).

President Trump is expected to address the convention every night, according to the New York Times. He will officially accept the GOP nomination on Thursday, in a speech from the White House, which presidents have historically stopped short of using for explicitly political events. In a further blending of the Trump administration and the Trump campaign, several govenrment officials will also speak at the RNC, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “violating long-standing tradition that the nation’s top diplomat remain removed from partisan politics,” according to the Washington Post.  

Unlike the Democratic convention, the Republican festivities will include an in-person component. A total of 336 GOP delegates (six from each state and territory) will gather in Charlotte to renominate President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence today. The delegates will also vote to approve a resolution opting to forgo the adoption of a traditional party platform.

Instead of a platform, the party will express its support for President Trump’s second-term priority list, which was released on Sunday. The list includes several agenda items carried over from his first campaign (such as ending illegal immigration, limiting U.S. reliance on China, instituting congressional term limits, and providing school choice) as well as other plans related to the coronavirus (including the development of a vaccine by the end of 2020 and a “return to normal” in 2021) and other ongoing policy battles.

The theme of the RNC’s opening night will be “Land of Opportunity.” You can watch the entire lineup of programming on the official livestream. CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, and PBS will air all of the primetime speeches starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time, while ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC will air only the final hour, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time.

The Rundown

Kellyanne Conway, one of President Trump’s longest-serving advisers, will leave the White House at the end of August, she announced on Sunday. Conway, who became the first female campaign manager of a successful presidential campaign when she steered Trump to victory in 2016, has served as Counselor to the President since Trump took office — one of the few top aides to survive the churn of the past three-and-a-half years.

Conway’s husband, prominent conservative attorney George Conway, will also step back from his anti-Trump group, the Lincoln Project. “We disagree about plenty but we are united on what matters most: the kids,” she said in a statement posted to Twitter. The Conways’ twin departures from the national political scene come days after their eldest daughter, Claudia, tweeted about her plans to emancipate herself after a series of public clashes with both parents.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment on Sunday. President Trump made the announcment at the White House, flanked by the heads of the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. The New York Times had reported last week that authorization for the treatment had been put on hold after Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health officials intervened; it is unclear what changed since then, as many scientists continued to express skepticism of the therapy.

The FDA has previously been accused of bowing to political pressure as President Trump urges them to find a coronavirus cure. The day before announcing the blood plasma treatment — which he described as a “breakthrough” — President Trump baselessly accused the FDA of slow-walking its search for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics for political reasons. The treatment was then authorized the day before the opening of the Republican National Convention.

The House approved a $25 billion emergency funding bill for the U.S. Postal Service on Saturday. The legislation, which also blocks the Trump administration from making operational changes at the postal agency through the November election, passed 257-150, with all Democrats and 26 Republicans voting in favor.

The measure is unlikely to advance in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of “ignoring the urgent needs of American workers and families” by focusing on the Postal Service while negotiations for the next coroanvirus relief package remain in limbo. The Democratic attempt to infuse the Postal Service with new funding follows reports of mail delays across the country, sparking worries ahead of the expected surge in mail-in voting this November.


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will travel to Mill River, North Carolina today, to visit Flavor First Growers and Packers, an organization that participates in the Trump administration’s “Farmers to Families Food Box” program, which puts farmers and ranchers back to work to package boxes of food for families in need.

The president will tour the organization at 1 p.m. and deliver remarks at 1:30 p.m.

The House and Senate are on recess.

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Robert Duncan will testify before the House Oversight Committee at 10 a.m. in a hearing on “protecting the timely delivery of mail, medicine, and mail-in ballots.”

The Supreme Court is on summer recess.

The Republican National Convention will convene for its first day. President Trump and Vice President Pence will be formally nominated by the delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a 9 a.m. roll call vote.

The primetime programming, from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., will feature speeches from Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and State Rep. Vernon Jones (D-GA).

Other speakers tonight will include Amy Johnson Ford, a nurse; Kimberly Guilfoyle, the chair of the Trump Victory Finance Committee; Natalie Harp, an entrepreneur; Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA; Kim Klacick, a Maryland congressional candidate; Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who pointed guns at protesters in St. Louis; Sean Parnell, a Pennsylvania congressional candidate; Andrew Pollack, who lost a daughter in the Parkland school shooting; Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son; and Tanya Weinreis, a Trump campaign advisory board member.

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