Fact-checking Night 3 of the Republican National Convention

 


 Republicans closed the third night of their convention on Wednesday with a strong law-and-order message, casting U.S. President Donald Trump as a supporter of law enforcement amid protests over the police shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin.

South Dakota Governor?Kristi Noem speaks during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, U.S. August 26, 2020. 2020 Republican National Convention/Handout via REUTERS

The following are quotes from the night’s events, most of which were pre-recorded due to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:

“Last week, Joe Biden said: ‘No miracle is coming.’ What Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles and we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year. After all the sacrifice in this … a year like no other – all the hardship– we are finding our way forward again.

“In the days ahead, as we open up America again, I promise you we’ll continue to put the health of America first.

“My fellow Americans, we are passing through a time of testing. For in the midst of this global pandemic, just as our nation had begun to recover, we’ve seen violence and chaos in the streets of our major cities.”

“President Donald Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest, but rioting and looting is not a peaceful protest. Tearing down statues is not free speech. And those who do so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Let me be clear: the violence must stop - whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedoms to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”

SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM:

“I believe America is an exceptional nation founded on three principles: equality, freedom, and opportunity. But today our founding principles are under attack.”

“It took 244 years to build this great nation, flaws, and all. But we stand to lose it in a tiny fraction of that time if we continue down the path taken by the Democrats and their radical supporters.”

MARSHA BLACKBURN, U.S. SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE:

“Tonight, I want to talk to you about another kind of hero. The kind Democrats don’t recognize, because they don’t fit into their narrative. I’m talking about the heroes of our law enforcement and armed services. Leftists try to turn them into villains. They want to ‘cancel’ them. But I’m here to tell you these heroes can’t be canceled.”

KEITH KELLOGG, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:

“Ask yourself, has this president kept his promises … to keep us out of needless conflicts and to pursue ending wars without end? Has he defended your interests in renegotiating trade deals that previously hurt Americans and our national security? Has he fulfilled his commander in the chief role by decisively going after our nation’s enemies? You and I know, the answer is yes.”

DAN CRENSHAW, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS:

“We need to remind ourselves of what heroism really is. Heroism is self-sacrifice. It’s not moralizing and lecturing over others when they disagree. Heroism is grace, not perpetual outrage. Heroism is rebuilding our communities, not destroying them. Heroism is renewing faith in the symbols that unite us, not tearing them down.”

TRUMP ADVISER KELLYANNE CONWAY:

“A woman in a leadership role can still seem novel. Not so for President Trump. For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. 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.”

LOU HOLTZ, RETIRED FOOTBALL COACH:

“Nobody has been an advocate for the unborn like President Trump. President Trump protects those lives. I trust President Trump.”

MICK MCHALE, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF POLICE ORGANIZATIONS, A UNION GROUP:

“Our endorsement recognized his strong support for the men and women on the front lines particularly during these challenging times.”

“The differences between Trump/Pence and Biden/Harris are crystal clear. Your choices are the most pro-law enforcement president we’ve ever had or the most radical anti-police ticket in history.”

CHEN GUANGCHENG, CHINESE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST:

“The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is an enemy of humanity. It is terrorizing its own people and it is threatening the well-being of the world. In China, expressing beliefs or ideas not approved by the CCP - religion, democracy, human rights - can lead to prison. The nation lives under mass surveillance and censorship. The U.S. must use its values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to gather a coalition of other democracies to stop CCP’s aggression. President Trump has led on this and we need the other countries to join him in this fight, a fight for our future.”

U.S. SENATOR JONI ERNST OF IOWA:

“Folks, this election is a choice between two very different paths. Freedom, prosperity, and economic growth, under a Trump-Pence administration. Or, the Biden-Harris path. Paved by liberal coastal elites and radical environmentalists. An America where farmers are punished, jobs are destroyed, and taxes crush the middle class. That is our choice. And it’s a clear one.”

RICHARD GRENELL, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:

“That’s the Democrats. Between surveillance classifications, leaks, and puppet candidates, they never want the American people to know who’s actually calling the shots. But with Donald Trump, you always know exactly who is in charge. Because the answer is you. You’re in charge. Not lobbyists, not special interests, not warmongers or China sympathizers or globalization fanatics. With Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the White House, the boss is the American people.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday cast the re-election of President Donald Trump as critical to preserving law and order and economic viability, asserting that Democratic rival Joe Biden would set America on a path to socialism and decline.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks in a segment streamed during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, U.S. August 25, 2020. 2020 Republican National Convention/Handout via REUTERS

Amid widening protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin, Pence and other Republicans at their national convention described the Nov. 3 election between Trump and Biden as a choice between law-and-order and lawlessness.

“The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence told a crowd seated in folding chairs at historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, Trump joined Pence on stage after the speech as the crowd chanted: “Four more years.”

Police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Blake, 29, multiple times in the back at close range on Sunday, reigniting protests against racism and police brutality that erupted across the United States earlier in the year.

During the third night of unrest on Tuesday, three people were shot, two fatally. A teenager was arrested on homicide charges. The state’s lieutenant governor said he was apparently a militia member who sought to kill innocent protesters.

In his speech Pence said: “Let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”

Biden said earlier he had spoken with Blake’s family on Wednesday and, like the family, called for an end to the violence. But, unlike Trump who has yet to publicly comment on the police shooting, Biden called for justice and defended the right to protest.

“Protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary, but burning down communities is not protest. It’s needless violence,” Biden said in a video posted by his campaign.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said he would send federal law enforcement to Kenosha by agreement with the state’s governor while the U.S. Department of Justice said a federal civil rights investigation had been opened into the shooting.

DEMOCRATS CALL IT A DIVERSION

Democrats have characterized Trump’s law-and-order focus as a diversion from what they say is the president’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 178,000 Americans and cost the jobs of millions of people.

Trump has struggled to win back women voters alienated by his combative style, opinion polls show, and some speakers sought to highlight his work to elevate women - part of an effort during the convention to present a softer view of Trump that is often belied by his own actions and words.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, who announced earlier this week she would step down at the end of the month, said Trump had put women in powerful positions and given her an influential role.

“A woman in a leadership role can still seem novel. Not so for President Trump. For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men,” Conway said.

Pence spoke at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland — a federal facility that is the site of the battle during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

He sought to reshape the narrative around the economy, casting the millions of jobs lost to the pandemic as a temporary setback. Despite lagging behind Biden in opinion polls, Trump gets higher marks as a steward of the economy than his Democratic rival does.

“Last week, Joe Biden said ‘no miracle is coming.’ What Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles and we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year,” Pence said.

“President Trump set our nation on a path to freedom and opportunity from the very first day of this administration. But Joe Biden would set America on a path of socialism and decline,” he said.

Pence was put in charge of the Trump administration’s response in the pandemic’s early days, although Trump quickly became the face of the White House response and was criticized for minimizing the threat from the virus.

The political fallout also hit Trump’s re-election campaign, cutting into his support in opinion polls, which show Americans trust Biden, 77, more than Trump, 74, to handle the pandemic.

Democrats and other critics have accused Republicans of inappropriately blurring the lines between government and partisan politics during the convention, using many of the trappings of office for his re-election campaign.


A former Indiana governor and congressman and a conservative Christian, Pence served as a key connector between Trump and evangelical voters, an influential part of the Republican political base.

At their own party convention last week, Biden and his running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, warned Americans against giving Trump another four years in the White House.

President Donald Trump has made a surprise appearance at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry following Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the Republican National Convention.

The president, first lady, Pence, and Pence’s wife stood on stage with their hands over their hearts as country music star Trace Adkins performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Trump didn’t make any comments at the podium, but after the national anthem, he and the first lady greeted people in the audience, chatting with supporters while standing a few feet away.

Pence was delivering the evening’s keynote from Fort McHenry, where Americans defended Baltimore Harbor from the British in the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Republicans aggressively defended law enforcement on the third night of their convention, as the nation faced renewed tensions following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Wisconsin, that sparked protests in a state that could decide the fall election.

Vice President Mike Pence, the evening’s featured speaker, seized on the national reckoning over racial injustice to argue that Democratic leaders are allowing lawlessness to prevail in cities from coast to coast. He and others described cities wracked by violence, though protests in most locations have been largely peaceful.

“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,” he said. He also assailed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for saying there is an “implicit bias” against minorities and “systemic racism” in the U.S.

“The hard truth is ... you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence said. “Let me be clear: The violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha,” he added. “Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down.”

“The American people know we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with our African American neighbors to improve the quality of their lives, education, jobs, and safety.”

But Pence never mentioned Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or other Black people who have been killed by police this year, spurring a new nationwide protest movement.

Meanwhile, the steady image Republicans were aiming to portray of President Donald Trump at the convention was running into a turbulent outside reality: the police shooting of Blake, 29, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the potentially catastrophic hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast, wildfires that have ravaged huge areas of California and the still-raging coronavirus pandemic that is killing more than 1,000 Americans a day.

The historic convergence of health, economic, environmental, and social emergencies is only increasing the pressure on Trump, as he looks to reshape the contours of his lagging campaign against former Vice President Biden with Election Day just 10 weeks off and early voting beginning much sooner.

Pence, the chair of the White House coronavirus task force, did defend the administration’s handling of the pandemic, a political liability that was otherwise largely absent from the convention program.

The program Wednesday night was — as the president often says of Biden — low energy, with no major headline speaker beside the vice president and few boldface names. And it lacked some of the production elements that had made previous nights memorable, including slickly produced videos and surprise announcements, such as an unexpected presidential pardon and a citizenship ceremony.

Not that the proceedings lacked tough talk.

“From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs,” contended South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem. “People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t — good, hard-working Americans —are left to fend for themselves.”

Pence opened his remarks with a word of warning to those in the path of Hurricane Laura, which was forecast to make landfall overnight on the Gulf Coast at the Louisiana-Texas border. Despite the expected devastation, campaign officials insisted Trump would still deliver his acceptance address Thursday evening as planned.

“This is a serious storm,” Pence said. “And we urge all those in the affected areas to heed state and local authorities. Stay safe, and know that we’ll be with you every step of the way to support, rescue, respond, and recover in the days and weeks ahead.”

Pence spoke from Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, where an 1814 battle inspired the National Anthem — which has been at the center of a cultural debate, fueled by Trump, over athletes who kneel rather than stand in protest of racial injustice. Trump made an unannounced appearance to join Pence after his remarks for a performance of the anthem at the fort.

It came hours after the NBA postponed three playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for their game following the shooting of Blake. The WNBA and Milwaukee Brewers quickly followed suit with their Wednesday games.

That was a few hours before Pence spoke from Wednesday night’s lineup also included Clarence Henderson, who participated in the 1960 Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins to discuss peaceful protest and the president’s record of trying to help Black Americans.

“These achievements demonstrate that Donald Trump truly cares about black lives,” Henderson said. “His policies show his heart. He has done more for black Americans in four years than Joe Biden has done in 50.”

Convention speakers were also reinforcing Trump’s law-and-order message, warning that electing Biden would lead to violence in American cities spilling into the suburbs, a message with racist undertones. Trump on Wednesday tweeted about sending federal agents to Kenosha to help quell unrest, and the Justice Department said it was sending in the FBI and federal marshals.

Trump’s campaign believes his aggressive response will help him with suburban women voters who may be concerned by the protests — though it may only deepen his deficit with Black voters.

The Trump campaign’s focus on law enforcement continued a weeklong emphasis on motivating his political base — rather than appealing to moderate voters.


An August Fox News poll found that registered voters were somewhat more likely to say they trusted Biden than Trump on handling issues related to policing and criminal justice, 48% to 42%, and significantly more likely to trust Biden than Trump on handling race relations, 53% to 34%. Biden’s advantage on criminal justice issues mirrored his advantage overall.

Michael McHale, the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, told the convention, “The violence and bloodshed we are seeing in these and other cities isn’t happening by chance. It’s the direct result of refusing to allow law enforcement to protect our communities. Joe Biden has turned his candidacy over to the far-left, anti-law enforcement radicals.”

And Burgess Owens, a former NFL player now running for Congress in Utah, declared, “This November, we stand at a crossroads. Mobs torch our cities while popular members of Congress promote the same socialism that my father fought against in World War II.”

The night included remarks from the president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as well as several administration officials including departing Counselor Kellyanne Conway, the manager of Trump’s 2016 general election campaign, and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

“This is the man I know and the president we need,” said Conway, a week before she is to leave the White House. “He picks the toughest fights and tackles the most complex problems. He has stood by me, and he will stand up for you.”

Night Three of the Republican National Convention featured a number of elected officials, second lady Karen Pence and others who made the case for President Donald Trump’s re-election during a program focused on “law and order” as protests grow over a Black man’s shooting in Wisconsin.

Vice President Mike Pence also accepted his re-nomination with a speech praising Trump for his leadership.

NBC News is fact-checking the speeches in real-time.

Pence credits Trump for Obama’s veteran’s choice program.

At one point in his speech, Pence said: “After years of scandal that robbed our veterans of the care that you earned, in the uniform of the United States, President Trump kept his word again. We reformed the VA and veteran’s choice is now available for every veteran in America.”

In fact, the veteran’s choice program was a bipartisan initiative enacted by President Barack Obama in 2014. It allowed the government to pay doctors outside the VA for veteran’s care. It is misleading to imply that it only became available under President Trump.

Pence is right, however, that the Trump administration “reformed the VA” by signing the VA MISSION Act of 2018, which boosted funding for the Choice program and expanded the eligibility criteria.

Second lady Karen Pence, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway and Lara Trump, a senior adviser to Trump’s campaign, celebrated the passage of the 19th Amendment in their remarks on the third night of the RNC, something first lady Melania Trump touched on during her speech Tuesday, too.

“One hundred years ago today, the 19th amendment was adopted into the United States Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote. Because of heroes like Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone women today, like our daughters, Audrey and Charlotte, and future generations will have their voices heard and their votes count,” Karen Pence said.

Lara Trump claimed that “One hundred years ago today, the 19th Amendment was ratified granting the right to vote to every American woman.”

But the women Wednesday night failed to acknowledge a crucial reality of the 19th Amendment: It enfranchised white women, while many Black women remained disenfranchised. The amendment outlawed keeping women from voting based on their gender, but Black women who attempted to vote in 1920 were often still subject to the poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses that disenfranchised Black men in many states.

Even prior to the 19th Amendment’s ratification, as women across the country organized, marched, and lobbied for enfranchisement, Black women took on their share of the work only to be shunned or excluded by the wider, white suffrage movement. Anthony herself grew hostile to the idea that a Black man would have the right to vote before white women. Black suffragists like Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Adella Hunt Logan constantly fought to be included in marches and were subjected to segregated or limited inclusion.

Madison Cawthorn said James Madison signed the Declaration of Independence. He didn’t.

North Carolina Republican congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn, 25, urged viewers to consult their U.S. history books in his speech Wednesday night.

But he gets a few things wrong.

“If you don’t think young people can change the world, then you just don’t know American history,” Cawthorn said. “George Washington was 21 when he received his first military commission. Abe Lincoln — 22 when he first ran for office. And my personal favorite, James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence.”

Madison, considered one of the country’s Founding Fathers, didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence. Washington was actually 20 at the time of his first commission, and Lincoln was 23 when he first ran for office.

Kayleigh McEnany misleads on Trump and pre-existing conditions.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told a compelling story about her battle with a BRCAII genetic mutation, a pre-existing condition.

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She said President Trump personally reached out to check on her and care for her as she sought a preventative mastectomy. “I know him well,” McEnany said. “And I can tell you that this president stands by Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

Trump’s policy record on pre-existing conditions, however, tells a different story.

He has fought for legislation that would undo the Affordable Care Act and weaken those protections. He’s currently supporting a lawsuit that would wipe out current safeguards for pre-existing conditions, without offering a replacement plan. The president has also used his executive authority to expand the use of short-term health plans, which are less expensive but not required to cover pre-existing medical conditions.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem distorts recent protests

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, in her Republican National Convention speech Wednesday, accused Democrats — and only Democrats — of running cities that have been taken over by “violent mobs.”

“From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder.”

This is a substantial distortion and exaggeration of the facts.

Outrage over the death of George Floyd, who died in May after the white Minneapolis police officer arresting him knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, sparked protests against police brutality and in support of racial justice all over the country, in cities and states run by both Democrats and Republicans.

While the cities Noem listed all have Democratic mayors and are all in states with Democratic governors (with the exception of Washington, D.C.) , protests have taken place in at least 450 cities across the U.S. Those included large ones in Miami, whose mayor is a registered Republican. Protests also arose in smaller cities and towns in regions supportive of Trump.

Furthermore, Noem’s claim that the cities she spoke of were “overrun by violent mobs,” is outright false.

The protests across the U.S. in recent months were largely peaceful. Violent incidents did occur, but many were initiated by outside groups with political agendas. Violence during recent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which formed after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer, appears to be following a similar pattern as protesters are met by armed pro-police counter activists. Read more here.

Does Biden want to defund police, ICE, and the military? No, no, and no.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., in her RNC speech Wednesday, accused Democrats — singling out Joe Biden and Kamala Harris by name — of wanting to defund the police, the military, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“As hard as Democrats try, they can’t cancel our heroes, they can’t contest their bravery and they can’t dismiss the powerful sense of service that lives deep in their souls. So they tried to defund them. Our military, our police, even ICE, to take away their tools to keep us safe,” Blackburn said. “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and their radical allies tried to destroy these heroes because if there are no heroes to inspire us, the government can control us.”

All of her claims are not true.

As NBC News pointed out on both the first and second nights of the RNC (following similar claims from other Republicans), Biden does not support calls from some on the left to defund the police. He has explicitly said so on multiple occasions. In addition, the official Democratic Party platform, approved last week, includes no references to defunding the police.

Biden also has not called to abolish ICE. He has explicitly said he doesn’t want to abolish the agency and has instead called for reforms, particularly regarding how it deals with undocumented immigrants who have not committed any crimes.

Biden has not made any pledges to defund the military, either, and has even faced calls from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party over not making a more overt commitment to slashing defense spending.

Blackburn, for her part, went further, saying Democrats “don’t recognize” heroes like police officers “because they don’t fit into their narrative.”

That’s also not true.

Biden, at the Democratic National Convention last week, said, “Most cops are good.” He added, “but the fact is, the bad ones need to be identified and prosecuted.”

Would Biden’s plan raise taxes by $4 trillion? Yes, but it targets top earners.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said that the Democratic nominee Joe Biden wants to levy “$4 trillion in new taxes” on “American workers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.”

It’s true that Biden’s tax proposals are estimated to raise taxes by approximately $4 trillion over 10 years, but Stefanik’s claim that Biden wants to tax middle-class workers and small businesses is false.

Biden’s tax plan, aimed at making the ultra-wealthy and major corporations pay more, would raise taxes on high earners and includes proposals to tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income for people making more than $1 million a year and roll back President Trump’s tax cuts for people making more than $400,000. He also wants to raise the corporate tax rate and create tax minimums for corporate profits and corporations’ foreign earnings.

In a recent interview, Biden said Americans making less than $400,000 a year and “Mom and Pop businesses that employ less than 50 people” wouldn’t see a tax increase. The Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center have both reviewed the proposals and found that the top 5 percent of taxpayers would be most affected.

Dan Crenshaw says ISIS is defeated. The U.S. military says it is not.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, a rising star in the party, said Wednesday: “The defeat of ISIS was the result of America believing in our heroes, our president having their backs and rebuilding our military so we’d have what we needed to finish the mission.”

But the United States military says ISIS hasn’t been defeated. Although it is true that the violent extremist group last year lost the last of its territory in Iraq and Syria, and that its leader was killed in a U.S-led airstrike, the Pentagon warns that the group has since found safe havens in the region and is seeking to build a caliphate.

“While ISIS no longer has the ability to hold ground, the terrorist organization isn’t completely defeated,” reads an article published two weeks ago by the U.S. Department of Defense, which quoted Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. saying that defeating the group will require a plan for displaced Syrian refugees and for local forces to be able to combat ISIS on their own.

Crenshaw’s depiction mirrors Trump’s rhetoric, which some of his own allies have rejected. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a frequent golfing partner of the president, said last October on Fox News: “The biggest lie being told by the administration is that ISIS has been defeated.”