On the eve of the Republican National Convention’s opening night, President Trump on Sunday will hold a news conference at which he is expected to announce the emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for covid-19. The president’s campaign also released the lineup of speakers for this week, with members of Trump’s family scheduled to speak on each of the convention’s four nights.
Former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, continued to hammer Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield saying Sunday that Americans “need to be confident that the process of getting to a vaccine is not politically manipulated.”
In an interview on ABC News’s “This Week,” Bedingfield also asserted that Biden has not contracted covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, although she added that he has not yet been tested.
The Biden campaign is seizing on President Trump’s demand for Americans to boycott the tire company Goodyear by launching a TV ad in the battleground state of Ohio.
Trump last week urged supporters not to buy Goodyear tires over a reported ban on Trump campaign apparel by the company’s workers. Goodyear has its global headquarters in Akron, Ohio. The firm said it asks employees to “refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party.”
Biden’s 30-second ad opens with footage of Trump saying he “would be very much in favor” of Americans choosing another tire company.
A narrator then intones: “A company with a 122-year history in Akron, Ohio, thousands of American workers, and competitors all over the world. And a sitting president who’s spinning out of control would risk American jobs to try to save his own.”
The ad closes with a shot of Biden in aviator sunglasses, seated in a yellow convertible. He pumps the gas, then turns to the camera and smiles.
Trump’s family members, conservative allies dominate GOP convention lineup
The Republican National Convention will be heavy on members of Trump’s family, as well as conservative congressional allies of the president, senior administration officials and viral stars who have gained fame and a following on the right.
The lineup of speakers, released by the president’s campaign Sunday, will feature at least one person from Trump’s family — many of whom work either at the White House or on his reelection efforts — on each of the four nights of the convention. Trump himself speaks Thursday night.
“Over four nights, President Trump’s 2020 Convention will honor the great American story, the American people that have written it, and how President Donald J. Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda has empowered them to succeed,” the campaign said in a statement announcing the list.
Fifty-seven percent of registered Republicans surveyed by CBS News said the number of U.S. deaths due to the novel coronavirus has been “acceptable,” while 43 percent said the number of deaths is “not acceptable.” Among registered Democrats, only 10 percent said the number of U.S. deaths is acceptable. Ninety percent said the figure is not acceptable.
Those are some of the findings of the poll, which was conducted Wednesday through Friday among 2,226 registered voters nationally with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
Views of the pandemic also split along party lines in other ways. Thirty-six percent of all registered voters said they believe the actual number of U.S. coronavirus deaths is lower than reported. But among Republicans, that number rose to 64 percent.
Nearly three-quarters of Republicans — 73 percent — said they think the U.S. coronavirus response is going well, while only 38 percent of all voters said the same.
In a Fox News interview Sunday, senior Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes rejected the notion that 57 percent of Republicans believe the number of U.S. deaths has been acceptable. What the figure represents, he argued, is the number of Republicans who believe “it’s acceptable in relation to expectations.”
“It’s a shame that the pandemic has been politicized,” Cortes said. He added: “I reject the whole premise. It’s a silly and insulting question to ask. … Of course all death is unacceptable.”
White House, Trump’s campaign dismiss secret audio in which his sister says ‘you can’t trust him’
The White House and the Trump campaign on Sunday dismissed a secretly recorded tape in which Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry said the president has “no principles” and “you can’t trust him.”
Mary L. Trump, the president’s niece, surreptitiously taped the 15 hours of face-to-face conversations with Barry in 2018 and 2019. She provided The Washington Post with previously unreleased transcripts and audio excerpts.
In an interview Sunday on ABC News’s “This Week,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump “has been public with his response — you know, just another day and another attack that we continue to see.”
Trump will travel to New Hampshire on Friday to address supporters, his reelection campaign announced Sunday.
The Friday night event will be held at a hangar at the Manchester airport. The campaign said that in accordance with New Hampshire’s emergency order, masks are required and will be provided to attendees.
Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Twitter flags ‘misleading’ tweet in which Trump suggested voters could contract coronavirus from ballot drop boxes
Twitter on Sunday flagged a tweet in which President Trump suggested voters could contract the coronavirus by placing their mail-in ballots in drop boxes, calling his message misleading and in violation of the platform’s rules.
“We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our Civic Integrity Policy for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting,” the company said in a tweet Sunday afternoon.
It added that Trump’s tweet “will remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation” and that users “will be able to Retweet with Comment, but not Like, Reply, or Retweet it.”
The move came after Trump kicked off his Sunday morning by tweeting two familiar lines of attack — one against mail-in voting and another against some Democrats at last week’s convention who omitted the word “God” when saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
“So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster. Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times,” Trump tweeted. “Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!”
Despite the claim, states and localities check ballots against voter rolls, making it difficult for one person to “vote multiple times.” Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, can be spread by exposure to surfaces but is more often spread by person-to-person contact, according to experts.
George Conway, a conservative lawyer and frequent critic of the president, responded to Trump’s tweet by noting his own recent experience dropping off a ballot for his wife, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
“Recently I dropped my wife’s primary ballot off in a dropbox in front of the Bergen County, NJ municipal building,” he tweeted. “There were security officers there. The dropbox was clean, but I didn’t have to touch it because there was a narrow, clearly marked slot to put the ballot in!”
Trump on Sunday also noted that a few participants in breakout caucus meetings during last week’s Democratic National Convention removed the word “God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Two Democrat Caucus Meetings removed ‘UNDER GOD’ from the Pledge of Allegiance,” he tweeted. “It sounded not only strange, but terrible. That’s where they’re coming from!”
On Saturday, Trump falsely claimed “The Democrats” had removed the line from the pledge. During the prime-time, televised events, DNC attendees recited the full Pledge of Allegiance, including the phrase “one nation under God.”
RNC speakers to include Pompeo, members of Trump family, St. Louis couple who aimed guns at protesters
Trump’s reelection campaign on Sunday released the lineup of speakers for this week’s Republican National Convention, with members of the president’s family scheduled to speak on each of the four nights of the event.
Some Trump Cabinet members, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, also will address the convention, in a move that critics have argued further blurs the lines between the presidential campaign and official business.
Also scheduled to speak are Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who made headlines in June when they stood outside their mansion in a gated community and pointed guns at protesters marching past them. The McCloskeys were each charged last month with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon.
On Monday night, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and his partner, Kimberly Guilfoyle, are scheduled to speak. Other speakers include the McCloskeys, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Tuesday’s lineup includes first lady Melania Trump and the president’s children Eric and Tiffany Trump, as well as Pompeo, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi (R).
On Wednesday, Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, will speak, as will Vice President Pence and his wife, Karen. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) are among the other speakers.
And on Thursday, the president will deliver his acceptance speech from the White House. According to a White House official, he will be introduced by his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump. Other speakers include Carson, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.), who left the Democratic Party last year to join the GOP.
The White House on Sunday defended Ivanka Trump’s appearance, noting that it will be “in her personal capacity, as the President’s daughter."
“Like all government employees, she is free to engage in political activity in her personal capacity,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. “The White House worked with the Office of Special Counsel to ensure that her appearance was in full compliance with the Hatch Act.”
Meadows declines to disavow QAnon, suggests FBI should focus its attention elsewhere
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday declined to disavow the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, saying he didn’t know much about it and suggesting that the FBI would be better off focusing on other issues.
Days earlier, President Trump gave a major boost to the online movement, which the FBI has identified as a potential domestic terrorist threat. The president said at a White House news briefing that he appreciated the support of QAnon followers, calling them “people that love our country.”
Asked by ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos why the president won’t condemn the group, Meadows replied, “I had to Google it to figure out what it is.”
“You’ve talked about it more, George, than anybody in the White House has talked about it,” Meadows said on ABC News’s “This Week.”
He argued that “there are a number of conspiracies that we ought to be talking about,” such as Trump’s claim that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign. “That was a conspiracy that was real and one we started to look at,” Meadows said, even though the claim has not been proven.
Biden’s campaign last week criticized Trump for seeking “to legitimize a conspiracy theory that the FBI has identified as a domestic terrorism threat.” But Meadows maintained Sunday that QAnon should not be a major concern for federal law enforcement officials.
“I don’t see that this is a central debate that anybody’s going to decide who the next president of the United States might be or where we need to deploy the FBI,” Meadows said.
“Where we need to deploy the FBI is to Portland and other areas like that where we see in real time what is happening, not something that may be an Internet conspiracy,” he added.
Philip Bump contributed to this report.
Biden has not been tested for the coronavirus, campaign says
Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield on Sunday asserted that the former vice president has not contracted covid-19. But Bedingfield also said that Biden has not taken a test.
“He has not had the virus,” Bedingfield said on ABC News’s “This Week," adding: “We put in place incredibly strict protocols to ensure that everybody involved who is around Vice President Biden, who’s around Senator Harris, is undergoing the appropriate testing.”
Host George Stephanopoulos interjected: “Has he been tested?”
“He has not been tested,” Bedingfield replied. “However, we have put the strictest protocols in place, and, moving forward, should he need to be tested, he certainly would be.”
It was not immediately clear how the campaign knew that Biden had not contracted the virus if he had not been tested. Those who have contracted it sometimes do not exhibit any symptoms. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), for instance, learned last month that he had covid-19 only when he underwent testing at the White House the morning he was due to travel with Trump aboard Air Force One to Texas. Gohmert said he did not have any symptoms at the time.
The White House regularly tests Trump, some staffers and all journalists who attend White House briefings.
Bedingfield on Sunday also took aim at the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, one day after the president claimed, without evidence, that the Food and Drug Administration is trying to delay the approval of a potential vaccine until after the November election.
“Look, the American people need to be confident that the process of getting to a vaccine is not being politically manipulated," she said. "And, right now, we’re not getting a whole lot of reason to believe that.”
Biden says he would ‘absolutely’ serve two terms if elected
In his first joint interview with Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Biden left open the possibility that he would serve two terms in office if elected to the White House in November.
“Absolutely,” Biden told ABC News’s David Muir when asked whether he would be open to serving eight years.
Biden would be 78 years old by Inauguration Day, which would make him the oldest president in U.S. history. At a virtual fundraiser earlier this year, he said he considers himself “a transition candidate,” although he has since clarified that he did not necessarily mean he would serve only one term.
Biden also responded to Trump’s attacks on his mental fitness.
“I think it’s a legitimate question to ask anybody over 70 years old whether or not they’re fit and whether they’re ready,” Biden said. “But I just, only thing I can say to the American people, it’s a legitimate question to ask anybody. Watch me.”
Civil rights protest, political demonstrations and fireworks: D.C. to host thousands amid coronavirus pandemic
Hours after the thick smoke of Trump’s fireworks show dissipates from the Mall, a crowd of thousands is expected to march Friday to the Lincoln Memorial for a civil rights protest calling on the nation to fulfill unkept promises of racial justice and equality.
The march — on the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s seminal “I Have a Dream” speech — will conclude a week of large-scale events in the nation’s capital, including protests, a fireworks display marking the end of the Republican National Convention and Trump’s acceptance speech, which he is expected to give from the South Lawn of the White House.
The jam-packed week comes as the D.C. area continues to navigate a still-raging pandemic. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has doubled down on instructions to out-of-state visitors: Wear a mask, keep your distance and, if you’re traveling from one of the 29 states deemed a hot spot, quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
Republicans will open their national convention Monday with an urgent mission: to convince voters pessimistic about the state of a country battered by the novel coronavirus, economic recession and racial upheaval that Trump deserves four more years at the helm.
Convention organizers say the president and his surrogate speakers will showcase optimism and inspire hope in a time of worldwide despair, with programming planned around the themes of “promise,” “opportunity” and “greatness” for the United States in a second Trump term.
“The big contrast you’ll see between the Democrats’ doom-and-gloom, Donald Trump-obsessed convention will be a convention focused on real people, their stories, how the policies of the Trump administration have lifted their lives, and then an aspirational vision toward the next four years,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in an interview Saturday.
Lorena Aguayo-Márquez felt sad and tired and angry — sometimes all at once.
Amid an explosion of hunger and illness in Grand Rapids, Mich., the activist and community organizer had devoted countless hours to marshaling rent money and food donations for families that did not qualify for pandemic assistance because of their immigration status. As politicians praised working-class laborers in meatpacking plants and agricultural fields, many of them undocumented, she fumed that the government left those workers to fend for themselves if they became ill.
Now, Aguayo was in her bedroom catching up on video clips from the Democratic National Convention, hosted virtually this year because of the coronavirus. She took careful notes with a pen and notepad during a speech by Michelle Obama, who urged viewers to “vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.” Aguayo sat with the words.