Trump to Deliver Speech From White House Lawn: Campaign Update


President Donald Trump says he will “take a look” at “birther” accusations leveled at Kamala Harris. Trump also Joe Biden of plagiarism, an apparent allusion to a scandal that ended a previous Biden run for president. And Senator Tim Scott will speak at the Republican National Convention.

There are 82 days until the election.

Other Developments:

Trump to Deliver Convention Speech from White House Lawn

Trump plans to accept the Republican presidential nomination from the lawn of the White House, saying the location would save money on security costs.

“I’ll probably be giving my speech at the White House because it is a great place,” Trump said in an interview with the New York Post. “It’s a place that makes me feel good, it makes the country feel good.”

He added: “We could have quite a group of people. It’s very big, a very big lawn.”

Trump has toyed with the idea of a speech from the South Lawn for weeks, after the coronavirus pandemic forced his campaign to abandon plans to have him speak at the convention in either Charlotte, North Carolina, or Jacksonville, Florida.

Some critics – including John Thune, the second highest-ranking Republican in the Senate – had suggested giving the nominating speech on federal grounds could be problematic. But White House officials have said the president is immune from laws prohibiting federal employees from engaging in political acts, and the Office of Special Counsel said Wednesday that Trump could deliver the convention speech from the White House.

Trump said he would visit the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg – the other finalist site for his speech – at a “later date.” The president also told the newspaper he was planning to campaign in his home state because he believes recent violence in New York City has left the state “in play.” Trump lost New York by 22 points in 2016. -- Justin Sink

Trump Leaves Harris Birther Claim Unchallenged (7:31 p.m.)

Trump said he would “take a look” at the question of whether Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee who was born in the U.S., was eligible to serve, the latest instance of the president flirting with “birther” theories about a Black Democrat.

Trump was asked during a press conference Thursday about a column by John Eastman – who lost to Harris in a 2010 race for California attorney general – in which the Republican law professor argues the now-senator may be ineligible to become president because her parents were not American citizens.

Trump called Eastman a “very highly qualified, very talented lawyer” and did not denounce the idea, saying he had “no idea” if it was right. The argument would seem to have little legal merit: at least seven U.S. presidents – including Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Barack Obama, and Trump himself - had at least one parent who was an immigrant.

Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign lawyer, called on Harris to respond to the allegations. “It’s an open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible,” she said.

Trump begrudgingly apologized during the 2016 election for falsely accusing Obama – who was born in Hawaii – of secretly being born in Kenya and forging his birth certificate. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, is the first woman of color to be on a major party’s presidential ticket. -- Justin Sink

Trump Brings Up ‘Plagiarism’ During Attack on Biden (6:34 p.m.)

Trump said Thursday that Biden “plagiarizes,” an apparent reference to an episode that crippled Biden’s first presidential campaign.

In 1987, Biden was accused of lifting passages for a campaign speech from an address by Neil Kinnock, a British Labour Party leader. At the time he also acknowledged plagiarizing a law review article during his first year of law school, saying he didn’t understand the need to fully cite sources.

Biden dropped out of the 1988 race in September 1987.

Trump made the plagiarism allegation while attacking Biden for his positions on the coronavirus response at his daily White House briefing and said, “He only knows what he thinks we should do and he spews it out.”

“Every single one of the events,” he said, “every single thing we’ve done.” He was not more specific on what he thought Biden had plagiarized and didn’t mention the 1987 episode. -- Mario Parker

Senator Scott to Speak at Republican Convention (6:16 p.m.)

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina will address the Republican National Convention next week as the party highlights “Honoring the Great American Story” for its overall theme, according to an official with President Donald Trump’s campaign.

It remains unclear which night Scott -- an African American who is frequently discussed as a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate -- will speak.

Other speakers for the virtual event will include small-business owners, including Tanya Weinreis, owner of Mountain Mudd Espresso in Montana who will discuss the significance of PPP loans.

Ann Dorn, the widow of retired St. Louis police capitan David Dorn, who was shot and killed June 2, has also been asked to speak.

The convention is set to begin Monday, Aug. 24. -- Kevin Cirilli

Pence Tells Beef-Loving Americans Not to Worry (4:53)

Pence promised a group of Iowa farmers -- and beef-loving Americans everywhere -- that the administration would fight any effort to reduce meat consumption.

Pence noted that Harris, Biden’s running mate, said in a CNN town hall last year that the U.S. should consider revising nutritional guidelines to reduce the amount of recommended red meat because of the impact of livestock on the climate.

“Senator Kamala Harris says she would change the dietary guidelines in this country to reduce the amount of red meat Americans can eat,” he said as the crowd booed. “Well, I’ve got some red meat for you. We’re not going to let Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cut America’s meat!”

As a candidate, Harris did say the nutritional guidelines should be revisited for environmental reasons, but she also said she enjoyed beef herself.

“I love cheeseburgers from time to time, I just do,” she said. “But there has to be also what we do in terms of creating incentives that we will eat in a healthy way, that we will encourage moderation, and that we will be educated about the effect of our eating habits on our environment. -- Jennifer Jacobs

Bloomberg Is Added to Lineup of Convention Speakers (3:56 p.m.)

More speakers, including two former Democratic presidential candidates and a former vice-presidential hopeful, have been added to the lineup for the Democratic National Convention next week.

Former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg will deliver a speech, the DNC confirmed to Bloomberg News. (Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

Andrew Yang, who dropped out of the Democratic race after the Iowa caucuses, was also added as a speaker after he expressed surprise that he wasn’t included in the programming. On Tuesday, after the committee unveiled its speaker lineup filled with leaders and party rising stars, Yang tweeted, “I’ve got to be honest I kind of expected to speak.”

Other speakers are Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who had been interviewed to be Biden’s vice president, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, and author Jon Meacham. -- Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

Biden, Harris to Give Convention Speeches From Delaware (12:44 p.m.)

Biden and Harris will deliver their nomination-acceptance speeches from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, next week, the Biden campaign confirmed Thursday.

After health officials discouraged people from traveling to Milwaukee for the Democratic National Convention, the Democratic National Committee announced Biden would give his speech from his home state of Delaware. Crews have been loading materials into the Chase Center all week as they prepare it for the televised event.

Harris will deliver her speech on Wednesday night, and Biden will speak on Thursday night. The rest of the speeches will be delivered virtually. -- Tyler Pager

Biden Raises $34 Million Around Harris Announcement (11:40 a.m.)

Biden’s selection of Harris as his running mate has been a boon for the Democratic presidential nominee’s fundraising.

The campaign said Thursday that it brought in $34.2 million online on Tuesday and Wednesday around the Harris announcement.

That total includes $26 million in the first 24 hours after the Harris news became public on Tuesday, a total that Biden announced at a virtual grassroots fundraiser on Wednesday night.

The contributions included $1.3 million spent on lawn signs featuring the new Biden-Harris logo, digital director Rob Flaherty said on Twitter. -- Jennifer Epstein

Ocasio-Cortez’s Second-Grade Teacher Weighs In on Convention Speech (8:26 a.m.)

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s second-grade teacher weighed in on her brief convention speech on Twitter Wednesday.

After it became public that the freshman lawmaker would have only one minute to speak at the Democratic convention, she posted a poem from Dr. Benjamin Mays, a civil rights leader who influenced Martin Luther King:

“I only have a minute. Sixty seconds in it. Forced upon me, I did not choose it, But I know that I must use it. Give account if I abuse it. Suffer, if I lose it. Only a tiny little minute, But eternity is in it.”

A user with the handle mcjacobs324 then tweeted a few words of encouragement: “Remember all those poems we recited together in 2nd grade? It was prep for this moment. You’ve got this.”

“Ms. Jacobs! Is that you?!” Ocasio-Cortez responded and recalled second-grade recitations. “You prepared me perfectly for this moment.”

Biden Says Election Day Should Be a Holiday (6:34 a.m.)

Biden said Wednesday that Election Day should be a federal holiday, joining a growing movement among Democrats on an idea they believe would boost voter turnout.

During his first event with running mate Kamala Harris in Delaware, Biden listed two top goals to encourage voting participation.

“We’re going to make sure that Election Day is a national holiday, number one,” he said. “Number two, that you’re automatically registered to vote when you turn 18.”

Election Day is already a holiday in a handful of states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, New York, and most recently, Virginia, which included the measure in a voting-rights bill this year. And a sweeping anti-corruption bill passed by House Democrats last year would have made it a holiday for federal workers.

Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama, also called for an Election Day holiday in his eulogy for Representative John Lewis last month.

A Pew Research Center poll in 2018 found nearly two-thirds of Americans backed the idea, including solid majorities of Republicans and Democrats, but it’s unclear how much it would boost turnout. One large-scale study found little difference in voter turnout in countries that moved their elections to the weekend.

Trump Can Deliver Nomination Speech From White House, Opinion Says

The president can now officially join the millions of Americans working from home and accept the Republican nomination at the White House.

After planning to give his acceptance speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida, the president can now officially deliver his remarks a few hundred feet from the Oval Office.

An advisory opinion sent to a House committee Wednesday said that the president and Republican National Convention planners are not legally barred from holding his nationally televised nomination acceptance speech from the White House lawn or executive residence.

Democrats had questioned whether giving the speech from there, as Trump has suggested in recent days, would violate the Hatch Act, a 1939 law that bars federal workers from conducting any political activities during working hours, while in a government building or while wearing a government uniform.

But the opinion from Erica Hamrick, the deputy chief of the Hatch Act Unit at the Office of Special Counsel, notes that the law does not cover the president and vice president.

“Accordingly, the Hatch Act does not prohibit President Trump from delivering his RNC acceptance speech on White House grounds,” it reads.

The opinion clears the way for Trump to break another political norm by using the White House as a backdrop to a major campaign moment. But Trump has also floated the idea of giving the speech at a Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg.

Infectious Disease Experts Release 50-Point List for Safe Polling Places

The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Brennan Center for Justice have released a 50-point list of guidelines for keeping polling places safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidelines include some measures already being taken, such as moving polling places from senior centers and retirement homes and spacing voters six feet apart.

But they also include some less obvious tips, such as having separate entrances and exits; giving voters disposable pens, Q-Tips or finger covers to reduce the number of surfaces they touch; and setting up mobile hand-washing stations.

“Procedures should be established to ensure that hand sanitizer use does not jam ballot scanners,” one guideline states.

The guidelines come amid a debate in Congress over how much help states need to manage elections in a pandemic. A Democratic stimulus bill that passed the House included an additional $3.6 billion for election security, but Senate Republicans have said the money is not necessary.

Coming Up:

Vice President Mike Pence travels to Iowa for the state Republican dinner and other events.

Biden and Harris will receive a briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, on the coronavirus pandemic from public health experts.

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