Trump Gives Second-Longest Acceptance Speech: Convention Update

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson says President Donald Trump rejects identity politics. Ultimate Fighting Championship executive Dana White praises Trump’s energy. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warns Democrats want to curtail rights.

There are 68 days until the election.

Other Developments:

Trump Now Holds Record for Two Longest Accepance Speeches

At 70 minutes, Trump’s acceptance speech was the second-longest for a presidential nomination in modern U.S. history. The longest? Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican convention in Cleveland, according to the American Presidency Project.

But his audience outside the White House was rewarded for its patience, treated to a dramatic fireworks display near the Washington Monument that spelled out “Trump 2020.” -- Gregory Korte

Carson Says Trump Rejects Identity Politics

Carson argued that critics of the president who say he is racist are wrong.

Speaking on the final night of the Republican National Convention on Thursday, the only Black member of Trump’s cabinet said that the president does not “submit to political correctness.”

Carson cited Trump’s passage of prison reform, financial support for historically Black colleges, support of school choice and opposition to abortion.

“President Trump does not dabble in identity politics,” he said. “He wants everyone to succeed and believes in the adage, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’”

A retired neurosurgeon, Carson ran for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. After endorsing Trump, he served on the transition before joining the cabinet.

Ultimate Fighting Executive Praises Trump’s Energy (10:04 p.m.)

Dana White, the president of Ultimate Fighting Championship, a mixed martial arts production company, said if Trump is re-elected he would have “unstoppable energy” to accomplish his agenda.

“Make no mistake about it: We still have a long way to go,” he said. “And that’s why we need a leader with President Trump’s unique attributes at this time.”

A longtime associate of Trump, White promoted Trump’s business experience at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Most recently, Trump congratulated White on hosting a match in early spring even as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic still loomed. -- Naomi Nix

McConnell Says Democrats Want to Curtail Rights (9:48 p.m.)

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, warned Thursday night that the Democratic Party would restrict the rights of Americans if its candidates gain control of Congress and the presidency in November.

“Today’s Democrat Party doesn’t want to improve life for middle America,” he said in a brief address. “They want to tell you when you can go to work, when your kid can go to school, they want to tax your job out of existence and then they want to send you a check for unemployment.”

McConnell, whose comments were much shorter than those of many other speakers, said he was proud that Republican senators have acted as a “firewall” against House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.

McConnell has been a strong ally of Trump since he assumed office. He helped to secure the confirmations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. McConnell has also championed key Trump policies, such as rolling back federal regulations and passing a massive tax cut signed by the president in December 2017.

McConnell faces a tougher-than-expected re-election campaign in his home state of Kentucky against Democratic challenger Amy McGrath. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found earlier this month that McConnell was leading McGrath by 5 percentage points.

Party-Switcher Van Drew Says Democrats Controlled by Radicals (9:36 p.m.)

Jeff Van Drew, who switched his affiliation late last year from Democrat to Republican, talked about his transformation and what he sees as a radical takeover of the Democratic Party.

Van Drew said his first vote in Congress was against Nancy Pelosi as speaker and after that he was dismayed to see the influence of progressive members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on the party’s agenda.

“Joe Biden is being told what to do by the radicals running my former party, the same radicals trying to install him as their puppet president.”

Van Drew was one of three Democrats to break with the party and vote against impeaching Trump. He is in his first term in the House serving New Jersey’s Second Congressional District and was elected as a Democrat. Last month he won a primary to run as a Republican. -- Emma Kinery

Ja’Ron Smith Says Trump’s Forgotten Man Includes Black Voters (9:15 p.m.)

The highest-ranking Black aide in the White House said that Trump’s work for the “forgotten” American worker includes people of color.

Speaking on the final night of the Republican National Convention, deputy assistant to the president Ja’Ron Smith said that Trump “really cares and he takes action” to help people like his parents, who worked blue-collar jobs in Cleveland.

“Every issue important to black communities has been a priority for him. Prison reform. Rebuilding broken families,” he said. “Bringing jobs back to America. Jobs in Cleveland, jobs in Detroit, jobs in Milwaukee.”

Smith, one of many Black men who spoke at the convention, also referred to the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and LeGend Taliferro in Kansas City, Missouri, Black men whose deaths have sparked protests around the country.

Smith, who advised Trump on urban policy before landing his current post in 2019, helped work on the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform law that Trump frequently touts to Black voters.

McCarthy Offers Sharp Rebuke of Democratic Agenda (9:01 p.m.)

McCarthy, a California congressman, offered a sharp rebuke of the “socialist” agenda he said a Democratic president would implement.

“As Republicans, it’s our mission to renew the American dream, restore our way of life and build the greatest economy in the world,” McCarthy said during the last night of the Republican National Convention. He said the Democrats have a different agenda that would “dismantle our institutions,” and defund the police.

McCarthy has led the House GOP at a time when the party downplayed fiscal responsibility and pro-business positions in favor of more populist themes.

McCarthy was an early backer of Trump’s first presidential campaign in 2016 and succeeded former House Speaker Paul Ryan as the leader of the chamber’s Republicans last year, after the party had lost its majority. -- Naomi Nix

Trump Audience Includes GOP Luminaries (8:31 p.m.)

Trump will accept the Republican nomination before a crowd filled with party luminaries and top officials.

The audience of hundreds on the South Lawn includes South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a critic-turned-confidant of the president who is facing an unexpectedly tough re-election fight; MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a friend of Trump under fire for promoting a plant extract as a cure for coronavirus; and Wayne Berman, an executive at the Blackstone Group and Trump fundraiser.

Also in attendance are Franklin Graham, a key figure in the evangelical movement and son of Billy Graham; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Texas Representative Louie Gohmert; Utah Senator Mike Lee; and Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, who spoke Monday at the convention. Fox News host Sean Hannity, a close ally, anchored his program from the South Lawn.

Former pro football coach and Alabama Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour also had seats. -- Jennifer Jacobs

Trump to Speak to Crowded Audience (7:46 p.m.)

President Donald Trump will speak to a tightly packed crowd of hundreds on the South Lawn of the White House tonight.

Early looks at the site where he will accept the Republican nomination for president show rows of white chairs side by side, almost touching, in close rows. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people maintain a distance of at least six feet to minimize the risk of transmitting coronavirus.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that the audience is being encouraged to wear masks at the event and that “a number of people” in attendance will be tested.

Democrats have criticized Trump for resisting wearing a mask in public for months and holding a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma that local health officials linked to new cases of coronavirus. -- Justin Sink

Pelosi Predicts Democrats Would Get Trump’s Taxes Under Biden (1:49 p.m.)

Pelosi said House Democrats would make Trump’s tax returns public if Biden wins the White House in November.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has been seeking to get Trump’s business and personal tax returns from the Treasury Department since April 2019. House Democrats and Trump administration are engaged in a legal battle that could last beyond the November election.

“When we win this election and we have a new president of the United States in January and we have new secretary of the Treasury, and Richie Neal asks for the president’s returns, then the world will see what the president has been hiding all of this time,” Pelosi said Thursday at a press conference.

Democrats could make Trump’s tax information public if the courts were to rule that the Treasury Department has to hand over the documents. Democrats could also make a second demand for Trump’s tax information during a Biden administration that might be more willing to fulfill their request. Pelosi made the comments as part of a defense of Neal, whose Democratic primary challenger Alex Morse has accused him of not being aggressive enough in pursuing Trump’s tax returns.

Trump officials have blocked the requests for the president’s tax returns, saying that Democrats are seeking information to hurt Trump’s re-election chances and that it set a bad precedent for the party in power to use the tax code to target its political opponents. -- Laura Davison and Erik Wasson

RNC Expects $10 Million Haul at Trump Fundraiser (1:24 p.m.)

The Republican National Committee expects Trump to scoop up $10 million in contributions for his re-election effort at an in-person fundraiser on Thursday that will take place hours before he will deliver a speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination.

In addition to writing big checks, donors assembled at Trump’s namesake hotel in Washington will have to be tested for Coronavirus, complete a wellness questionnaire and have their temperatures taken to be admitted to the event. The White House Medical Unit and the Secret Service will check the guests before they can enter, according to the RNC. Professional cleaners scrubbed and sanitized the event site.

The event is being held by Trump Victory, which can accept donations of as much as $580,600. It splits the money it raises between the president’s campaign, the RNC and GOP state parties. In the current election cycle, Trump Victory has spent $1.8 million at businesses owned by the president for hosting fundraising events and other expenses, including $105,678 at his Washington hotel.

Trump, who will formally accept the Republican nomination Thursday night in an event at the White House, has raised more than $1 billion for his re-election effort through the end of July. -- Bill Allison

Pelosi Says Biden Should Skip Debates With Trump (12:17 p.m.)

Pelosi said Thursday that she would advise Biden to skip the three debates with Trump scheduled for September and October.

“I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference. “I know the Biden campaign thinks differently about this.”

Biden shouldn’t debate Trump because the president will “act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the president,” Pelosi said. She suggested that instead, the candidates should make policy speeches detailing their proposals.

Pelosi has not had a conversation with the president since she stormed out of an Oval Office meeting on Syria policy last October after the president insulted her. She last interacted with him at the State of the Union address in February where she ripped up a copy of his speech, which she said was filled with lies.

In an interview with MSNBC, Biden said he intended to take part in debates and would be “a fact-checker on the floor while I’m debating him.”

“As long as the commission continues down the straight and narrow as they have, I’m going to debate him,” he said. -- Erik Wasson and Jennifer Epstein

Biden Will Run Ad During Trump’s Acceptance Speech (11:25 a.m.)

Biden’s campaign plans to run an ad during Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday that highlights the Democratic nominee’s physical fitness and jabs at the president’s health.

The two-minute spot contains footage and lines that aim to rebut Trump’s “Sleepy Joe” nickname for Biden, including shots of the former vice president riding a bike and jogging.

“When Joe Biden is president, America is just going to have to keep up,” the ad’s narrator says, listing issues Biden plans to address if elected.

There are also clear efforts to tweak Trump. As the narrator says that some “race up steps when others take it slow,” the image on screen is of Trump’s slow and cautious walk down a ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It’s followed by video of Biden jogging up a similar ramp to speak at the same place several years ago.

The spot is set to run on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News. -- Jennifer Epstein

Trump Reaches Out to Women at Convention (7:36)

Trump sought to reset his relationship with women voters at the Republican National Convention this week.

With polls showing Trump trailing by double digits among registered women voters, convention planners showcased women in key speaking slots, highlighted the Republican Party’s historical role in the women’s suffrage movement and featured testimonials from women in Trump’s family and administration.

On Wednesday, Representative Elise Stefanik, who has worked to attract female voters to the GOP, argued that the record number of Republican women running this year was a sign that “Americans from all walks of life” were supportive of the president.

Trump’s longtime adviser, Kellyanne Conway, and daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, also said that the president has many women working in high-level positions around him.

Coming Up:

Trump, Housing Secretary Ben Carson, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Ivanka Trump will speak at the Republican National Convention tonight.

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