Republican National Convention 2020: Day 1

By Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Rebekah Metzler and Jessica Estepa, CNN

Updated 11:00 AM ET, Tue August 25, 2020
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8:13 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Cardinal Timothy Dolan defends decision to offer prayer at RNC

From CNN's Ganesh Setty and Kevin Bohn

Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended his Republican National Convention appearance by stating he doesn't see offering a prayer as an endorsement of a party or a candidate after receiving online criticism.

Posting on Twitter his previous statement on why he agreed to participate, Dolan said that had he been invited to offer a prayer during the Democratic National Convention he would have "happily accepted," as he did during the 2012 DNC convention

The statement says it’s one of his “most sacred obligations” to “try and respond positively whenever I am invited to pray.”

“Prayer is speaking to God, offering Him praise, thanking Him for his many blessings, and asking for His intercession; it is not political or partisan.”

In response to CNN’s inquiry about some of the criticism he has received since word emerged of his participation, Dolan acknowledged it.

“I want to say that I maintain almost neutrality when it comes to Politics, we the church absolutely don't get involved in party politics, I only represent a sector of the church, if we don't pray for America, as Catholics, who will? The RNC involvement is giving me a positive criticism these past days," he told CNN.

The Archdiocese of New York says that they notified the Democratic National Committee that Cardinal Dolan would accept an invitation to pray at the Democratic National Convention as well.

"We notified the DNC that the Cardinal would also accept an invitation to pray at their convention, if they wished. However, they had already invited other Catholic representatives to pray," Joseph Zwilling, the director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York told CNN.

Read the tweet:

8:08 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

"Surprises" to come at tonight's RNC, Trump campaign official says

From CNN's DJ Judd

A senior Trump campaign official told reporters on a call today that the President "will be making an appearance every night” of this week’s Republican National Convention, though he will not be speaking every night.

Tonight’s appearance involves Trump “meeting with frontline workers during the course of the broadcast, honoring them for their sacrifices and commitment to keeping the American people healthy, safe and supplied. These will include police officers, firefighters, nurses, truckers and delivery drivers, and President Trump will be welcoming and thanking the frontline workers for their efforts,” according to the official.

The official also pointed to the list of speakers announced earlier today for tonight’s RNC programming, telling reporters, “there may be names, not included on the list, who will in fact speak tonight. And we do anticipate that there will be some surprises that we are not rolling out at this point, and there may be further information about those as we get closer to airtime.”

8:08 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Joe Biden was endorsed by more than 2 dozen former GOP lawmakers on first day of RNC

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, August 20, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, August 20, in Wilmington, Delaware. Andrew Harnik/AP

More than two dozen former Republican lawmakers announced Monday they are endorsing Joe Biden for president.

Former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and former Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania are among those throwing their support behind the Democratic presidential nominee through "Republicans for Biden," and the endorsements come on the morning of the first day of the Republican National Convention.

Biden has repeatedly emphasized Republican support as he looks to build a broad coalition in his campaign against President Trump.

While the endorsements offer a symbolic boost to Biden as he seeks to win over persuadable voters, Trump is still overwhelmingly popular among Republicans, a point made by Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh, who dismissed the significance of the endorsements.

"Joe Biden has been a failure in the Washington Swamp for a half century, so no one should be surprised when Swamp creatures gather to protect one of their own," Murtaugh said. "President Trump has unprecedented support — over 95% — among real Republican voters and is also making strong inroads in Biden's core Democrat constituencies, like Black Americans, Latinos, and union members. President Trump's record of success for all Americans will carry him to victory in November."

Along with Flake and Dent, former Sens. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire and John Warner of Virginia added their support.

Read more about the endorsements here

7:59 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Trump kicked off the RNC with a dark message despite aides claims of optimism

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Mary Kay Mallonee

President Donald Trump speaks during the first day of the Republican National Convention on Monday, August 24, in Charlotte.
President Donald Trump speaks during the first day of the Republican National Convention on Monday, August 24, in Charlotte. Chris Carlson/AP

Ahead of the Republican National Convention kicking off today, President Donald Trump said to expect an overall positive message.

“I think the overall is going to be a very positive as opposed to a dark — a very, very positive message," Trump said in an interview on Fox News with “The Next Revolution” host Steve Hilton that was taped on Friday and aired Sunday night.

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller said Republicans would present an "optimistic and upbeat convention this week" in contrast with what he described as last week's "massive grievance fest" of a Democratic National Convention.

Speaking from Charlotte, North Carolina, moments after he was formally renominated as the Republican Party standard-bearer, however, Trump delivered a screed that predicted a legally contested election in November and complained that Democrats were exploiting the coronavirus pandemic — still raging in the United States — to undermine his reelection.

"What they're doing is using Covid to steal an election. They're using Covid to defraud the American people, all of our people, of a fair and free election," Trump said, without evidence, to applause from GOP delegates, who were gathering in North Carolina to conduct the formal business of the party convention.

It was hardly the optimistic message that Trump's advisers have been relentlessly previewing ahead of this week's renomination festivities. Instead, Trump's speech was indistinguishable from the meandering, grievance-filled appearances he has been making in the lead-up to his scaled-down convention.

7:55 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Former "Apprentice" producer helping to put together RNC

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Jim Acosta

Sadoux Kim, a former producer of “The Apprentice,” is one of the producers and consultants helping to put together the Republican National Convention, three sources confirmed to CNN.

A source familiar with convention planning, a White House official and a campaign official confirmed to CNN Kim is helping to put together the show but did not detail his specific role.

The New York Times, which first reported Kim’s involvement, said he was a longtime deputy to Mark Burnett, who created and produced “The Apprentice.”

7:48 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

RNC will not adopt new platform at 2020 convention

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta

The Republican National Committee has confirmed it will not release a new platform during the 2020 convention this week — and in lieu of one, the party will support President Trump's agenda. 

In one of several resolutions issued and viewed by CNN, the RNC said it has "unanimously voted to forego the Convention Committee on Platform, in appreciation of the fact that it did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement." 

Instead there will be no new platform until the next convention in 2024 and, in the meantime, the RNC "will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda." Despite multiple opportunities, Trump has struggled repeatedly to articulate what a second term of his presidency would look like and what goals he'd like to achieve. 

On June 12, Trump tweeted, "The Republican Party has not yet voted on a Platform. No rush. I prefer a new and updated Platform, short form, if possible."

The resolution issued this week said is due to logistics and if the platform committee had been able to meet this year without Covid-19 restrictions, the RNC "would have undoubtedly unanimously agreed to reassert the Party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his Administration."

Before the convention was dramatically scaled back, Trump's aides, including Jared Kushner and Bill Stepien, had been assembling a platform for 2020, which they were hoping would be slimmed down.

The RNC accused the media of misrepresenting why it is not adopting a new platform this convention and said reporters are engaging in "misleading advocacy for the failed policies of the Obama-Biden Administration." 

It ends by saying "any motion to amend the 2016 Platform...will be ruled out of order."

7:42 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Here's who is slated to speak this week during the RNC

From CNN's From Kevin Bohn and Keith Allen

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on November 12, 2019 in New York.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on November 12, 2019 in New York. John Lamparski/Getty Images

The Trump campaign announced the list of speakers for the Republican National Convention beginning Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Among the notable speakers listed are Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Ambassador Nikki Haley, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Rudy Giuliani and UFC President Dana White.

Trump family members appearing at the RNC include first lady Melania Trump, and his children Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., Eric and Tiffany Trump.

Lawmakers slated to address the convention include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Sens. Tim Scott, Rand Paul, Marsha Blackburn and Joni Ernst, along with Reps. Steve Scalise, Matt Gaetz, Dan Crenshaw, and Jim Jordan. 

State lawmakers include Govs. Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

Multiple sources told CNN that President Trump will participate in each night of the convention, with his acceptance speech coming from the White House on Thursday.

The campaign did not indicate whether any of the remarks will be prerecorded, a criticism Trump and others lobbed at many of the Democratic National Convention speakers last week.

Pompeo, who is slated to address the convention Tuesday night, departed Sunday on an official visit to the Middle East. A person familiar with his plans said Pompeo intends to address the RNC from Israel, a break from longstanding traditions of leaving domestic politics when outside the country — particularly for the nation's top diplomat. 

7:38 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Senate Majority Leader McConnell will tape a speech for the RNC

From CNN’s Ryan Nobles

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will tape a speech that will be featured as part of the Republican National Convention, Tim Murtaugh, Trump campaign communications director, told CNN.

7:35 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Couple who pointed guns at protesters in St. Louis will speak tonight

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Caroline Kelly and Donald Judd

Patricia and Mark McCloskey draw their firearms on protesters as they enter their neighborhood during a protest against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on June 28.
Patricia and Mark McCloskey draw their firearms on protesters as they enter their neighborhood during a protest against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on June 28. Lawrence Bryant/Reuters

Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis homeowners who pointed guns at protesters earlier this summer, are scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention tonight.

The McCloskeys drew national attention in late June after they were seen in a viral video brandishing guns outside their mansion at protesters walking on a private street en route to demonstrate outside the St. Louis mayor's residence. The Missouri couple was charged in July with unlawful use of a weapon.

The White House has defended the couple on multiple occasions, with White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany telling reporters at the time that President Donald Trump "said it is absolutely absurd, what is happening to the McCloskeys."

In videos obtained by CNN, Mark McCloskey holds a long rifle and Patricia McCloskey holds a handgun as demonstrators, protesting Mayor Lyda Krewson's decision to publish the names and addresses of people in favor of police reform, walked outside the home. Portland Place, the private street where the McCloskeys live, is near Krewson's home.

Daniel Shular, a local reporter, took one of the videos and said he watched the entire roughly 10-minute long incident unfold. About 500 protesters were cutting through Portland Place, according to Shular, to bypass road closures nearby that blocked access to the mayor's home.

"A door next to the gate at Portland Place was unlocked and protesters went through it to cut through the neighborhood to get to Krewson's house," he told CNN.

That's when Shular says the McCloskeys came out of the house with the firearms. At one point in Shular's 31-second video, Patricia McCloskey points the handgun in the direction of protesters. In multiple videos, it appears the McCloskeys and protesters exchange words, but it is unclear what is said.

Mark McCloskey has defended his actions towards the protesters, saying last month that he was "in imminent fear they would run me over, kill me."

McCloskey asserted that it is "ridiculous" to consider him the face of opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement after the incident.

"I didn't care what color they were. I didn't care what their motivation was," he said. "I was frightened. I was assaulted."

Former Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann, Andrew Pollack, the father of Parkland shooting victim Meadow Pollack, anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Pennsylvania congressional candidate Sean Parnell will also be among the speakers at the Republican convention.