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On the roster: A woke Trump convention – I’ll Tell You What: The lead pony for 2024 – Pence to soak up the twilight’s last gleaming – Police fear vigilante violence against protesters – Busted grill
A WOKE TRUMP CONVENTION
On the morning of Jan. 12, 2018, the political world got a jolt when it was revealed that in Oval Office negotiations on a possible immigration deal that President Trump went on a tirade against immigrants from “s–thole countries.”
The discussion with a bipartisan group of lawmakers was about an effort to secure funding for Trump’s border wall and reduce the size of the visa lottery. In exchange, Democrats wanted to restore special allowances for immigrants from woebegone lands like Haiti and El Salvador as well as some African countries – allowances rescinded by the Trump administration.
Trump was having none of it. “Why are we having all these people from s–thole countries come here?” Trump was quoted as saying by meeting attendees. He was particularly upset about the Haitian immigrants, a group that is remaking the politics of South Florida. Instead, Trump wanted more immigrants from places like the exceedingly white and wealthy Norway.
Other than providing some headline writers the thrill of getting to use dirty words, the episode neatly summed up the administration’s views on immigration: There should be less of it and those who do get the chance shouldn’t be in need.
As Trump official Ken Cuccinelli would later put it, instead of “huddled masses yearning to be free” it should be those “who can stand on their own two feet.”
Republicans had previously argued that while illegal immigration should be curtailed, legal immigrants and asylum seekers were a welcome and important part of America.
But leaders like Jeff Sessions, Tom Cotton, David Perdue and Stephen Miller have been pushing to reduce immigration overall and to carefully limit which kinds of immigrants to allow.
As nativist Ann Coulter wrote of Trump’s scatological remarks at the time, “He is trying to win me back.”
One wonders, then, what Coulter, Miller and the others have made of this week’s Republican National Convention that on Tuesday featured a naturalization ceremony for immigrants from Bolivia, Lebanon, India, Sudan and Ghana, including a woman in a headscarf.
Indeed the idea of restricting immigration and the alleged dangers posed by immigrants – the issues that propelled Trump into the White House – have gotten scant attention. Some speakers have touched on the topic, but compared to four years ago immigration is nearly invisible as a campaign theme.
Instead, the Republicans are making their own pitch as the party of racial justice, and not just when it comes to welcoming Black and brown immigrants.
The other highlight of Tuesday night’s proceedings was another made-for-TV moment in which Trump granted a pardon to Jon Ponder, a Black man who went from bank robbery to founding Hope for Prisoners, which helps other felons get a foothold in society after their releases.
In fact, even as a race riot raged in a swing district of a swing state following the recent police shooting of a Black suspect in Wisconsin, there hasn’t even been the same kind of drumbeat about urban crime that has typified Trump’s term.
In fact, the Republicans have gone out of their way to rebut what Joe Biden says was his motivation for running: Trump’s coziness with racists and racist ideologies. Biden goes right back to Trump’s soft soap for the racists of the deadly Charlottesville alt-right gathering every time he is asked why he is running.
On the first two nights of the convention, Republicans have gone to some pains to show voters that the party is not only open to non-whites but that racism is real. One doubts the “very fine people” who were marching for white pride in Charlottesville would have been super stoked about Tim Scott’s speech or the celebration of non-white immigrants.
Back in July when Trump and his team were coming to terms with the fact that they were seriously behind in their re-election bid, we saw a serious shakeup. Trump dumped his campaign manager, changed his approach on the coronavirus and, for a brief period, worked to stay on script.
But the throne room whisperers at Axios said that along with the effort to run a more normal and disciplined campaign, Trump would reject the efforts of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to push a more racially cool version of MAGA.
“No more of Jared’s woke s***,” said one who had talked to Trump. The campaign would go all in on a defense of Confederate monuments and exploiting anxieties about deteriorating race relations. Criminal justice reform and other issues aimed at winning over skeptical suburbanites would be shelved in favor of rough justice and culture wars.
What then should we make of the fact that by Trumpian standards, the 2020 RNC has been a veritable celebration of social justice with scant talk of marauding Mexicans, “thugs” or shooting looters?
Democrats would no doubt argue that much like the convention’s happy talk about the still-raging coronavirus epidemic, the new look on race and immigration is just posturing. And they may be right. One doesn’t imagine that a Biden presidency in practice would win plaudits from the Republicans Dems put forward last week. Conventions are infomercials, not factual reflections of reality.
But even so, the different tone suggests the Trump campaign understands that the president’s 2016 message isn’t a good fit for a country that has changed its views on race and racism or a candidate who is too often seen as hard-hearted and bigoted.
It turns out it wasn’t that long of a trip from “s–thole” to “woke s—t.”
THE RULEBOOK: OVER TO YOU
“Thus have I, fellow-citizens, executed the task I had assigned to myself; with what success, your conduct must determine.” – Alexander Hamilton, in his concluding remarks, Federalist No. 85
TIME OUT: THERE’S THE RUB
Renowned pitmaster Matt Horn reflects on what 2020 has taught him. Bon Appetit: “When I was growing up, my mom used to say, ‘I never want my son to be a firefighter. He’ll run right into the fire.’ I became a pitmaster instead (different kind of fire), but she was right. Once I see a challenge, I embrace it, face it, and try to endure. … By the time I go home, I’m exhausted physically as well as emotionally. … But since the pandemic started, things are different. It’s made me focus more on cooking here at home. … I’ve always said that if no one showed up to my pop-ups, I would be fine because I’m completely in love with what I do. Quarantine is proof of that: I find the same pleasure in cooking a 200-pound hog in my backyard brick pit as I do in making grilled cheese sandwiches and plain omelettes for my kids, Matty and Leilani, who are four and three.”
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NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE
Trump: 43 percent
Biden: 51.2 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 8.2 points
Change from one week ago: Biden no change in points, Trump no change in points
[Average includes: CNN: Trump 46% – Biden 50%; ABC News/WaPo: Trump 44% – Biden 54%; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 41% – Biden 50%; Fox News: Trump 42% – Biden 49%; NPR/PBS News/Marist: Trump 42% – Biden 53%.]
BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (109 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6)
Lean R/Likely R: (180 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43 percent
Average disapproval: 54.6 percent
Net Score: -11.6 points
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: CNN: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 42% approve – 57% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 44% approve – 53% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve – 55% disapprove.]
GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to [email protected]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: THE LEAD PONY FOR 2024
This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt check-in after the first night of the Republican National Convention. They discuss all of the action from the evening including speeches by Senator Tim Scott, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Donald Trump Jr. and what those speakers tell us about where the GOP is headed. They also touch on the continued controversy around USPS, the resignation of Jerry Falwell Jr. from Liberty University, and an unfortunate passing. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
PENCE TO SOAK UP THE TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING
ABC News: “The Republican National Convention continues Wednesday under the theme ‘America, Land of Heroes’ with Vice President Mike Pence closing out the evening from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the site of a battle during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Though Republicans promised an optimistic convention that would be a sharp departure from the ‘doom and gloom’ virtual gathering they said Democrats put on last week, the RNC has so far sprinkled in apocalyptic language to cast the country as a place on the brink of violence and corruption in its pitch to Americans to reelect the man currently in charge. The evening’s speakers include Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Madison Cawthorn, a 25-year-old political newcomer who won his Republican primary runoff in the North Carolina congressional seat vacated by Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows — without having the initial endorsement of the White House. Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway is still slated to speak…”
Karen Pence to tout her work with military families – Fox News: “Second lady Karen Pence, who is scheduled to speak during the third night of the Republican National Convention, previewed her speech on ‘Fox & Friends’ on Wednesday, saying she will focus on highlighting the ‘heroes of our country.’ Pence noted that the theme on Wednesday night is ‘Land of Heroes,’ pointing out that ‘America is made up of people who are heroes.’ She added, ‘I get to talk a little bit about our military community,’ which she said is ‘near and dear to my heart.’ ‘I’ve worked a lot with military spouses to help them with employment and I’ve also done a lot of work with veterans on preventing suicide,’ Pence noted. ‘So it’ll be an exciting night to highlight the heroes in this great country.’”
RNC sees viewership decline from DNC – Bloomberg: “The opening night of the Republican National Convention drew a far smaller audience than the Democrats did last week, with viewers tumbling on every major broadcast and cable network except the Fox News Channel. About 17 million people tuned in to watch the convention Monday, according to data Nielsen released Tuesday, based on 11 channels. That was down from the 19.7 million who watched the first night of the Democratic convention. Fox Corp.’s cable news outlet led the night with 7.06 million total viewers, more than triple the number who tuned to the channel last Monday. AT&T Inc.’s CNN was second with 2.01 million total viewers. Comcast Corp.’s MSNBC, the leader during the Democratic convention, fell to fifth place Monday night, with an audience of 1.57 million. The results are based on coverage that began at 10 p.m. New York time. The Republicans drew 23 million viewers to their opening night four years ago based on seven networks, according to Nielsen data.”
Trump’s companies get big bucks from campaign – Forbes: “Donald Trump continued to shift money from his donors to his business last month, as his reelection campaign paid his private companies for rent, food, lodging and other expenses, according to a review of the latest Federal Election Commission filings. The richest president in American history, who has yet to donate to his 2020 campaign, has now moved $2.3 million of contributions from other people into his private companies. The most recent expenses look familiar. The president accepted $38,000 in rent last month through Trump Tower Commercial LLC, the entity that owns his Fifth Avenue skyscraper. Since Trump took office, his campaign has paid that company $1.5 million, more than any other property in the Trump empire, according to an analysis of federal filings. The Republican National Committee also coordinated with the campaign to pay Trump Tower Commercial LLC an additional $225,000.”
Trump getting shelled in August ad wars – Politico: “Donald Trump is getting pummeled on the TV airwaves, alarming Republicans and prompting the president’s allies to plead for outside help. August has been a blowout: Trump has been outspent on TV more than 2-to-1 over the past month, according to the media tracking firm Advertising Analytics. And in the past two weeks, Joe Biden is outpacing the president more than 5-to-1. The shortfall comes at a pivotal moment in the campaign, with Biden essentially monopolizing TV advertising in key battlegrounds before the start of early voting. Trump has ceded the airwaves in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where he’s gone dark in August. In Wisconsin, Trump has been outgunned more than 8-to-1. The president is not slated to be on the airwaves anywhere during the final week of the month, as Republicans hold their convention.”
BIDEN USES CELEBRITY BACKERS FOR COUNTERPROGRAMMING
AP: “Poised over the piano, Carole King was set to play ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ during a recent virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden when the Democratic presidential nominee himself beat her to it. … The four-time Grammy winner isn’t the only Biden playlist mainstay helping his campaign against President Donald Trump. Jimmy Buffett noted that ‘Come Monday’ was among the hits stored on Biden’s phone before singing it at another recent fundraiser. … With in-person campaigning largely suspended because of the coronavirus, a parade of movie and TV stars, pop icons and sports standouts are proving crucial in helping Biden raise money and energize supporters as campaign surrogates. Events this week with celebrities and advocates including actress Alyssa Milano are serving as counter-programming to the Republican National Convention. ‘We’re just flooding the zone as much as possible,’ said Michelle Kwan, Biden’s surrogate director and an Olympic silver and bronze medalist figure skater who held a similar post for Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
Hillary has more advice for Biden – Reuters: “Clinton, a Democrat, lost the 2016 presidential election to President Donald Trump, a Republican whose re-election bid is facing a stiff challenge from Biden, who has been leading Trump in public opinion polls. Clinton conceded defeat on the night of the election in 2016 but said the shift to mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic means it could take longer to know the winner in November. She said this year’s election day results might point to Trump having a narrow advantage. But in that case, Clinton said, ‘Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out.’ Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, was speaking an interview on Showtime’s ‘The Circus,’ a portion of which was released on Tuesday.”
Dems fume over RNC’s use of federal resources – Fox News: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is facing accusations of a Hatch Act violation after being featured as a speaker at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, demanded answers from Pompeo’s Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun in a letter on Tuesday. ‘It is highly unusual, and likely unprecedented, for a sitting Secretary of State to speak at a partisan convention for either of the political parties,’ Castro wrote. ‘It appears that it may also be illegal.’ Castro pointed out that Biegun told State Department employees in February that he would be ‘sitting on the sidelines of the political process this year’ because he is a Senate-confirmed official like Pompeo. The Hatch Act is a federal law that limits certain political activities of federal employees. … Castro’s colleague Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., called for Office of Special Counsel to look into the potential Hatch Act violations.”
POLICE FEAR VIGILANTE VIOLENCE AGAINST PROTESTERS
AP: “Illinois police arrested a juvenile Wednesday after two people were shot to death in a possible vigilante attack during a protest in Kenosha over the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Barnes. Commander Norman Johnson of the Antioch Police Department said the suspect — a young man whose name was not released because he is under 18 — was arrested on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide. Police did not immediately release any other details. Antioch is about 15 miles from Kenosha, which has seen three straight nights of unrest since Blake was wounded by police over the weekend. Two people were killed Tuesday night in an attack carried out by a young white man who was caught on cellphone video opening fire in the middle of the street with a semi-automatic rifle. … In the wake of the killings, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers authorized 500 members of the National Guard to support local law enforcement around Kenosha, doubling the number of troops sent in.”
Protesters in D.C. target diners – WaPo: “A demonstration that began Monday evening in the District to protest the shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin wound its way through two of the city’s entertainment districts, targeting diners in a tactic that has triggered backlash online. The crowd of protesters confronted a woman seated at a table outside a restaurant on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan and demanded that she raise her fist in a show of solidarity. ‘White silence is violence!’ protesters chanted, many with fists in the air. ‘Are you a Christian?’ a protester demanded, yelling into her face. But the woman, Lauren B. Victor, refused, even after her dining companion complied. ‘I felt like I was under attack,’ Victor, 49, an urban planner and photographer who lives in the District, said in an interview afterward. Footage of the incident went viral.”
Mega MAGA Stephanie Bice wins Okla. GOP runoff, will face Rep. Kendra Horn – Roll Call
Kanye West qualifies for Tennessee presidential ballot – Fox News
AUDIBLE: PLURIBUS → UNUM
“Let me close with something my mom has always said: That this country’s many faces comprise a family, not separate parts to be divided against each other.” – Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in his RNC speech Tuesday night.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Call me naive, but when did we devolve into rhetoric versus character as the primary factor for making a Presidential choice? I imagine there was a time that parents hoped that their children would emulate the Presidential candidates and develop similar traits regardless of party. Most parents hope that their children would follow them in their political viewpoints, frankly, it is more important that our children to Have a viewpoint then share our viewpoint. We need to teach our children that it is a duty and a right to vote. Apathy will be the death nail we hear pounding on the casket of democracy . We need all our voting age Americans to get out and vote, be that by absentee or in person. I do not care who you vote for frankly, just vote. Be involved in our process and take pride in the fact that we live in a country that encourages us to vote for whomever we feel would do the best job running the Country. … Chris, who do you think had the most outstanding character regardless of party?” – Clark Schroeder, Ashland, Wis.
[Ed. note: Well, you’d have to go a long way to outdo Abraham Lincoln. We revere Lincoln not just because he was a great man and a great leader, but because of the tests and temptations he faced. George Washington knew that he was leaving an example for what kind of leadership the presidency of a republic would require — simultaneously magisterial and humble. Washington’s awe-inspiring act of refusing kingship and then leaving office after two terms set the standard. Lincoln held high those standards even when members of his own party were pressuring him to become a wartime dictator. Yes, Lincoln overstepped his bounds, notably in the creation of the state of West Virginia, but he committed himself to govern as a citizen, not a despot. The willingness to make war in brutal fashion when needed but never succumbing to hatred — “with malice toward none” — is the greatest example of presidential leadership I can imagine. We suffer from a bipartisan problem in America today in which politics has become utterly disrespectable. The cynicism is astonishing. As is the fact that decent people know better than to go swimming in those eel-infested waters. The best stay home. We are in dire need of systemic reforms that can save our politics from our lengthening and deepening talent drought.]
“In your perceptive letter of August 25, you wrote the following sentence: ‘Many of the folks you heard last week and will hear this week would have been just as enthusiastic sounding about any candidate their party would have coughed up.’ I suggest that instead of ‘coughed up’ you could have used the more descriptive word: ‘regurgitated.’” – Jim May, San Diego
[Ed. note: But that would suggest that the parties had swallowed them already. You have to go back to Adlai Stevenson to find a losing nominee who, ahem, came back up.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
Treasure Coast Palm: “Whatever the case, the man’s choice Aug. 16 to look at his teeth in the mirror while behind the wheel of a Honda Accord appears to have been a poor one, according to an arrest affidavit. That’s because he’s accused of crashing ‘head on’ into a St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputy’s marked patrol vehicle. … The deputy reported that before the crash, he stopped his patrol vehicle, honked the horn and activated the siren to get the driver’s attention. Evidently it didn’t work. … The driver of the Honda, a Fort Pierce [Florida] resident, said he ‘was looking at his teeth in the mirror when he came into contact with … (the) patrol vehicle,’ the affidavit states. … The driver’s purpose in looking at his teeth wasn’t stated, and the tooth fairy couldn’t be reached for comment.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The first thing — the only thing, as Vince Lombardi would say — the puzzled anthropologist needs to note about the Super Bowl, now mercifully behind us, is the Roman numeral.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post about, in his opinion, the trouble with football on Jan. 25, 1985.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.