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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10:24 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: Claims that Democrats want to “abolish” the suburbs 

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Patricia McCloskey, the woman who along with her husband Mark McCloskey pointed a gun at protestors from her St. Louis home in June, claimed that Democrats want to “abolish” suburbs. “They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning,” she claimed.

Facts First: This is false. Democrats are not seeking to abolish suburbs or end single-family home zoning. An Obama-era housing rule meant to address racial segregation does not abolish suburbs in any way.

McCloskey seems to be repeating Trump’s racially coded nonsense from July when he worked to overturn the change the Obama administration made in 2015 to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), a decades-old federal requirement aimed to eliminate discrimination and combat segregation in housing.

You can read more about the regulations and Trump’s false claims here.

Some background: 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 mayor lives on a nearby public street and the protesters were going down a street that doesn’t reach the mayor’s house, a St. Louis city official said. The Missouri couple was charged in July with unlawful use of a weapon, a class E felony.

10:55 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Jake Tapper: Republican National Convention "is great for Donald Trump's base"

From CNN's Leinz Vales

On the first night of the Republican National Convention, CNN's Jake Tapper said the convention "so far is great for Donald Trump's base," but "with a couple of exceptions is not even remotely reaching out to any voters in the middle."

"We've heard a lot of grievance, really, this evening" Tapper said. "Some of them perhaps understandable, but we've heard from someone who hates unions, we've heard from someone who hates democratic leadership in Baltimore, we heard from the McCloskeys in St. Louis who certainly don't like the Black Lives Matter protesters. But we have yet to really hear much in terms of the positive, optimistic hopeful message we were told."

Tapper also discussed the RNC video that was played during the convention that portrayed President Trump as a "decisive leader" on coronavirus.

"That was just complete revisionism when it came to President Trump's empirically mishandling of the pandemic early on when he dismissed the threat of the virus. And we still in this nation do not have control of the virus like other western wealthy countries do. We have 4% of the population and more than 20% ... of the world's Covid deaths," he said.

You can read our fact check on the RNC video here.

Watch:

10:39 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: Here's what you need to know about the unemployment rate under Trump

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

Multiple speakers — including Rep. Vernon Jones, Rep. Jim Jordan and Mark McCloskey — touted the low unemployment rate America has witnessed under the Trump administration. Both Jordan and McCloskey credited the President for the “lowest unemployment in 50 years,” while Jones said President Trump “built the most inclusive economy ever, with record low unemployment for African Americans."

Facts first: This is misleadingly outdated, as it ignores the economic destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While the US unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.5% last September – its lowest level since 1969 – the pandemic has put a definitive end to America’s strong jobs market and millions of people remain out of work.

After dropping to a 50-year low in September 2019, the unemployment rate hovered around that level for five months before Covid-19 hit and millions of jobs vanished.

The unemployment rate for Black workers, meanwhile, fell to 5.4% in August of 2019, a record low for the data, which have been collected since 1972. It was mostly driven a drop in the jobless rate for Black women. The Black unemployment rate rose throughout the winter months.

All in all, America’s jobs market was strong when the pandemic hit. The March jobs report was the weakest since 2009. Things got worse in April, when more than 20 million American jobs disappeared amid the pandemic lockdown, by far the most sudden and largest decline since the government began tracking the data in 1939.

The unemployment rate spiked to 14.7% — the highest level since monthly records began in 1948. Joblessness had not been that severe since the Great Depression: The unemployment rate peaked at 24.9% in 1933, according to historical annual estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the pandemic affected workers across the country, minorities fared worse than White workers. In July, the overall unemployment rate fell back to 10.2% — still higher than during the worst part of the Great Recession — while the jobless rate for Black Americans was 14.6%.

12:13 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Trump makes second RNC appearance of the night with Americans who were hostages abroad

President Trump sits with former hostages and detainees who were freed during his administration.
President Trump sits with former hostages and detainees who were freed during his administration. Republican National Convention

President Trump has made a second “surprise appearance” on night one of the Republican National Convention, this time appearing from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House with former hostages and detainees who were freed during his administration.

"We have six incredible people who were held hostage by various countries and I'm very pleased to let everyone know that we brought back over 50 hostages from 22 different countries," Trump said.

Trump spoke with Pastor Andrew Brunson who was held in Turkey, Sam Goodwin who was held hostage in Syria, Michael White who was held hostage in Iran, Josh Holt who was held in Venezuela and Brian Nerran who was arrested and held in India. 

Brunson said "Trump took unprecedented steps to secure my release and your administration really fought for me." 

Holt also thanked the President for his help.

"You helped us get out, and it was a great honor to be able to meet you when we got back," Holt said. 

Trump concluded the appearance by saying “we have a few more people we want to get back and we will get them back and they’ll be back very soon." 

11:57 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: RNC video inaccurately portrays Trump as a "decisive leader" on coronavirus

From CNN's Daniel Dale 

An RNC video played during the convention contrasted President Trump as a "decisive leader" on coronavirus while suggesting that Democrats and media outlets “got it wrong” by downplaying the pandemic. 

Facts First: This suggestion is inaccurate. Trump continued to downplay the virus into March. Trump declared in February that the number of cases in the US would go “within a couple of days” from 15 to “close to zero,” and he predicted that the virus might "disappear" through a "miracle" or something of the sort. In late February, he was still likening the virus to the flu; in March, he suggested that the virus did not require the country to take more severe measures than the flu requires. 

He claimed in March that the virus was under “control”  and that the media and Democrats were overhyping the situation. 

12:14 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Kimberly Guilfoyle: Trump will put America first

Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Kimberly Guilfoyle. Republican National Convention

Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. and a top fundraiser for the Trump campaign, praised President Trump in her speech tonight, saying he "is the leader who will rebuild the promise of America and ensure that every citizen can realize their American dream."

Guilfoyle, whose mother is from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, spoke about the importance of the American dream and how she felt it was her "duty to fight to protect that dream."

She went on to claim that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris "will fundamentally change this nation."

"They want to destroy this country, and everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think, and believe, so they can control how you live," Guilfoyle said.

She said Trump has put America first and will continue do so if reelected.

Guilfoyle urged Americans to stand for a "President who is fearless, who believes in you, and who loves this country and will fight for her."

Watch:

10:44 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

St. Louis couple facing felony charges after pointing guns at protesters speaks at RNC 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Patricia and Mark McCloskey.
Patricia and Mark McCloskey. Republican National Convention

The Missouri couple facing felony charges after pointing guns at protesters outside of their home in St. Louis earlier this summer spoke on the first night of the Republican National Convention. 

“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country. And that’s what we want to speak to you about tonight,” Patricia McCloskey said. 

“Not a single person in the out-of-control mob you saw at our house was charged with a crime. But you know who was? We were. They’ve actually charged us with felonies for daring to defend our home,” Mark McCloskey said. 

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 mayor lives on a nearby public street and the protesters were going down a street that doesn’t reach the mayor’s house, a St. Louis city official said. The Missouri couple was charged in July with unlawful use of a weapon, a class E felony.

In videos obtained by CNN, the pair were seen brandishing weapons outside their St. Louis home as demonstrators walked outside the house in late June.

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

“You’ve seen us on your TV screens and Twitter feeds,” Mark McCloskey said. “You know we’re not the kind of people who back down. Thankfully, neither is Donald Trump.”

Watch:

11:51 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Parkland father: The "safety of your kids depends" on whether Trump is reelected

Andrew Pollack, the father of Parkland mass shooting victim Meadow Pollack.
Andrew Pollack, the father of Parkland mass shooting victim Meadow Pollack. Republican National Convention

Before the 2018 shooting, Andrew Pollack, the father of Parkland mass shooting victim Meadow Pollack, wasn't a political activist.

But in the face of unspeakable tragedy, after 17 people were killed in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, he is among those who have transformed their grief into political activism, with the goal of preventing other families from facing the same horror.

Tonight, speaking from the Republican National Convention, Pollack said he believes President Trump is committed to keeping children safe in America.

"I truly believe the safety of your kids depends on whether this man is reelected," he said.

The shooting, he said, changed his life forever.

"So many moments that I waited so long for were taken from me. I didn't get to drop her off at college. I didn't get to walk her down the aisle," Pollack said.

"But every moment was taken from her and for what? I never wanted this to become a political spectacle but it did," he added.

Pollack called Trump a "good man and a great listener" who he said "cuts through the BS."

Reporting from CNN's Betsy Klein contributed to this report.

11:49 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Georgia Democrat slams Biden's leadership: "All talk and no action"

Georgia State Representative Vernon Jones.
Georgia State Representative Vernon Jones. Republican National Convention

Vernon Jones, a Democratic politician from the state of Georgia, slammed Joe Biden's leadership and praised President Donald Trump's commitment to the Black community.

"As you can see, I am a man of color and I am a lifelong Democrat, too. You may be wondering, why is a lifelong Democrat speaking at the Republican National Convention? And that is a fair question. And here's your answer, the Democratic Party does not want Black people to lead their mental plantation. We've been forced to be there for decades and generations," Jones said in his remarks.

"But I have news for Joe Biden, we are free, we are free people with free minds. And I am part of a large and growing segment of the Black community who are independent thinkers and we believe that Donald Trump is the president that America needs to lead us forward," Jones continued.  

Jones said Biden has had "47 years to produce results," but has been "all talk and no action."

"Just like so many of the Democrats who have been making promises to the Black voters for decades. We have been there captive audience," Jones said.

Jones went on to tout Trump's measures with regard to the economy and funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

"The President also built the most inclusive economy ever with record low unemployment for African Americans and record high participation in the workforce," Jones said.

"He put the interests of American workers and especially Black workers first. That's right. Donald Trump did that," Jones said.