Republican National Convention 2020: Day 3

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

Updated 1:04 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020
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10:16 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

The RNC portrays Trump as he wants to be seen

Analysis from CNN's Kevin Liptak

Uiform through-lines have sometimes been hard to detect at this week’s convention, which has veered between fatalistic warnings about Democrats, denial about coronavirus and general economic optimism.

One consistent, however: every speaker has offered a view of the President that, no matter how divorced from reality, is the view he’s always wanted to see depicted on television. 

Trump’s self-produced television show — with his own editors and himself as the casting director — has achieved what near-daily complaints about news media converge and lengthy venting sessions to aides cannot: a depiction he finally agrees with.

Of course, the convention speakers and slickly produced videos have sanded off all of Trump’s flaws. In videos shot inside the White House of Trump greeting frontline workers, former American hostages, pardoned inmates and new US citizens, deft editing is employed to avoid the impression — often present when watching Trump live — that he struggles to remain on topic.

The angry outbursts and questionable information that are a hallmark of his news conferences and other media encounters are gone. Speakers describe a President who did not ignore the coronavirus pandemic, has not stoked racial tensions and generally acts like a different president than the one seen on television every day.

It’s exactly the person Trump wants to see.

10:08 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Fact check: Stefanik falsely claims that the Trump impeachment was "illegal"

From CNN's Alex Rogers


New York Rep. Elise Stefanik said that the impeachment of President Donald Trump was not only “baseless” and a “sham” but “illegal.”

Facts First: The impeachment of Trump was not illegal. The Constitution grants the House “the sole power of impeachment.” In December, the House exercised that power for the third time in U.S history, charging Trump with two crimes: abuse of power, for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden while withholding US security assistance and a coveted White House meeting, and obstructing Congress in its investigation. The House voted to impeach the President and the Senate voted to acquit him largely on party lines.

10:16 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst makes an appeal to her home state

From CNN's Betsy Klein


Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, an Army combat veteran and the highest-ranking woman in Senate leadership, used her remarks at Wednesday’s Republican National Convention to highlight service, the recent derecho storm, and agriculture to make a neatly-speech tailored to her Iowa constituents.  

Ernst, who is up for reelection this year, is currently in a competitive race with Democrat Theresa Greenfield that will be crucial to maintaining Republican control of the Senate. She appeared to directly address an audience of Iowa voters, standing in front of bales of hay piled on a tractor wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, American and Iowan flags in the background.

Like Gov. Kim Reynolds’ remarks on Tuesday, Ernst praised Trump’s response to the derecho that devastated an area nearly 800 miles wide with hurricane-force winds. Only one of the 27 counties impacted by the storm has received approval from the Trump administration for federal individual assistance, so far. Ernst also swiped at national media, which, she claimed, considers her state “still just flyover country.”

Speaking from her home state, she highlighted her Iowa roots and military record: “I was raised on a small family farm here in Iowa, where I learned the importance of faith, hard work and service. I worked my way through college, then dedicated my life to serving my country, as a local official, a battalion commander in the military, and as a US senator. Service, it’s more than a word to me: It’s a mission, a way of life.”

And she touted Trump’s trade and agricultural successes, including trade deals, removing the Waters of the United States rule, and implementing the sale of E15 fuel year-round, calling the Obama administration “hostile to farmers.”


9:55 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Kellyanne Conway argues Trump is champion for women

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway attempted to make the case at the Republican National Convention that President Donald Trump is a champion for women, despite Trump’s history of publicly demeaning women and leveling sexist and misogynistic attacks.

Trump’s presidential campaign is looking to win over female voters, as recent polls show female registered voters prefer Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over Trump. 

Conway said that for decades, Trump has “elevated women to senior positions in business and in government,” that he “confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men.”

“President Trump helped me shatter a barrier in the world of politics by empowering me to manage his campaign to its successful conclusion,” Conway said. 

Trump has a long history of making sexist remarks and mocking women based on their appearances. Most recently, Trump has resorted to sexist and racist tropes to describe Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris. The President has been accused publicly by more than a dozen women of sexual harassment or assault. 

Trump apologized in 2016 for lewd and sexually aggressive remarks he made in 2005 that were recorded while he was taping of a segment for "Access Hollywood." 

Conway announced Sunday she would leave the White House at the end of the month, and her husband, George Conway, said he was withdrawing from The Lincoln Project, both citing a need to focus on their family. 


10:06 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

New York representative commends frontline medical workers

RNC/Getty Images
RNC/Getty Images


New York Rep. Lee Zeldin got personal tonight during the Republican National Convention as he described what happened to his twin daughters who were born 14 weeks early.

Both girls weighed just a pound and a half and were in need of urgent medical attention, Zeldin said tonight.

"At two weeks old, Mikayla went into septic shock, had a stroke and underwent brain surgery leaving a third of the left side of her brain as a hole. Her doctors didn’t believe Mikayla would survive, fearing dire, permanent consequences even if she did," Zeldin said. "Through the miracles of modern medicine, the power of prayer, and her will to live, my daughters are now starting high school and doing great, with no long term consequences from those first few months in the NICU."

Zeldin has since made it a point to support medical professionals. In April, he worked with the White House to have roughly 200,000 N-95 masks to Suffolk County as it struggled under the coronavirus pandemic, he said,

"That number quickly grew to a staggering 1.2 million items of PPE in just one month, including masks, gowns, and more," he said.

9:43 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Pence makes last minute decision to address Wisconsin unrest in RNC speech

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Jeff Zeleny

Pete Marovich/Pool/Getty Images
Pete Marovich/Pool/Getty Images

In the 90 minutes before he was scheduled to speak, Vice President Pence decided he will address the unrest unfolding in Wisconsin on the third night of the Republican convention.

Whether or not he would bring up Wisconsin when he took the stage remained up in the air all day Wednesday. In the morning, a source said he would reference it. Then, around 8 p.m., a source familiar with the speech said Pence would not address the matter whatsoever and said the draft of his speech was locked.

But after seeing how dramatically events had escalated throughout the day, as he watched from his residence Wednesday afternoon, Pence added a last-minute reference to Wisconsin into the final drafts of his speech, making the ultimate decision only after he had landed in Baltimore to headline the third night.

9:42 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Fact check: Blackburn's exaggerates Democrats' views on coronavirus restrictions

From CNN's Daniel Dale

RNC/Getty Images
RNC/Getty Images

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn exaggerated Democrats’ views on coronavirus restrictions, then misleadingly described a remark about China by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Blackburn exaggerated by claiming that Democrats want people locked in their homes until they become “dependent on the government for everything.” (While some Democrats have called for additional stay-home orders to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, they are not seeking endless lockdowns for the purpose of fostering dependence.) Blackburn then said that this supposed Democratic position is reminiscent of “Communist China.” (It’s worth noting that many vibrant industrialized democracies had longer mandatory lockdowns than the US.)

And then she continued: “Maybe that’s why Joe Biden is so soft on them. Why Nancy Pelosi says that ‘China would prefer Joe Biden.’ Yeah. I bet they would.”

Facts FirstBlackburn’s claim about Pelosi was misleading in two ways. First, Pelosi did not personally argue that China would prefer Biden. Rather, in a CNN interview on August 9, Pelosi made clear that she was quoting the view of the US intelligence community, not speaking for herself. Second, the intelligence community reported that China wants Trump to lose because it sees him as “unpredictable,” not because Biden is perceived to be friendly to Chinese interests. 

Speaking to CNN’s Dana Bash on August 9, Pelosi argued that what the intelligence community has concluded about China is “not equivalent” to its conclusion about Russia. She noted that the intelligence community has found that China would prefer Biden, but that Russia has been actively interfering in the election to hurt Biden.

Pelosi’s exact words: “What they said is, China would prefer Joe Biden. Whether they do -- that's their conclusion, that they would prefer Joe Biden. Russia is actively, 24/7 interfering in our election.”

10:06 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Read excerpts from Mike Pence's speech tonight

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Here are some excerpts from Vice President Mike Pence's speech that you can expect to hear tonight. President Trump is going to Baltimore's Fort McHenry to attend the speech.

On the decision voters need to make this November:

"On November 3rd, ask yourself: Who do you trust to rebuild this economy? A career politician who presided over the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression? Or a proven leader who created the greatest economy in the world?"

On the Trump Administration's support for law and order:

"President Trump and I know the men and women that put on the uniform of law enforcement are the best of us. They put their lives on the line every day."

"The American people know we don't have to choose between supporting law enforcement, and standing with African-American neighbors to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns."

"From the first days of this Administration, we have done both. And we will keep doing both for four more years in the White House."

On Joe Biden:

"Joe Biden says America is systemically racist. And that law enforcement in America has a quote, 'implicit bias' against minorities."

"And when asked whether he'd support cutting funding to law enforcement, and he replied, "Yes, absolutely."

"The hard truth won't be safe in Joe Biden's America."
"Under President Trump, we will stand with those who stand on the Thin Blue Line, and we're not going to defund the police--not now, not ever."

On the Two Paths America Faces: 

"When you consider their agenda, it's clear: Joe Biden would be nothing more than a trojan horse for a radical left.  

The choice in this election has never been clearer and the stakes have never been higher.

Last week, Joe Biden said democracy is on the ballot, but the truth is...our economic recovery is on the ballot, law and order is on the ballot. But so are things far more fundamental and foundational to our country. 

It's not so much whether America will be more conservative or more liberal, more Republican or more Democrat. The choice in this election is whether America remains America.

It's whether we will leave to our children and our grandchildren a country grounded in our highest ideals of freedom, free markets, and the unalienable right to life and liberty--or whether we will leave to our children and grandchildren a country that is fundamentally transformed into something else."

Obtained by CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

9:41 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Legendary coach Lou Holtz praises Trump's leadership: "He says what he means, he means what he says"


Legendary football coach Lou Holtz threw his support behind President Trump because he said Trump "works hard at making America greater, and who genuinely cares about people."

"When a leader tells you something, you’ve got to be able to count on it. That’s President Trump. He says what he means, he means what he says, and he’s done what he said he would do at every single turn," Holtz said.

He went on to say that "Trump always finds a way to get something done."

"If you want to do something bad enough, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse, and excuses are a lot easier to find than solutions. President Trump finds solution," Holtz said.

"President Trump is committed," he said.