People For the American Way

Falsehoods and Failures: Trump at the RNC During COVID-19 (9/01 Update)

News and Analysis
Falsehoods and Failures: Trump at the RNC During COVID-19 (9/01 Update)

Despite Donald Trump’s many coronavirus-related failures last week, it was his self-congratulatory, lie-infused performance at the Republican National Convention (RNC) that clearly rose above all the rest.

  • According to CNN, Trump made more than 20 distinct false claims during his acceptance speech on August 27, many of them about the pandemic. He claimed that the U.S. has “developed a wide array of effective treatments, including a powerful antibody treatment known as convalescent plasma that will save thousands of lives. Thanks to advances we have pioneered, the fatality rate has been reduced by 80 percent since April.” Trump also bragged about the country’s testing system, saying that “we developed, from scratch, the largest and most advanced testing system in the world.” In fact, the U.S. has among the highest coronavirus mortality rates in the world, the scientific community is highly uncertain about the efficacy of plasma treatments, and health experts are in wide agreement that the country’s testing system is severely lacking both resources and strategic implementation.
  • Trump was involved in all of the RNC’s programming from the start, and claimed that pandemic-related travel restrictions kept him at the White House, where he delivered his acceptance speech on August 27. Yet Trump bragged about his choice of venue, saying, “We’re here, and they’re not.”
  • During his acceptance speech, as well as the rest of the convention, Trump continued to ignore the fact that his mishandling of the public health crisis has resulted in record-high unemployment, at 10 percent of the working population, and millions of jobs being permanently eliminated. Nonetheless, he tried to use his “economic record” as a key selling point for his reelection.
  • In addition to the falsehoods in Trump’s actual speech, the scene during its presentation was a galling reminder of the impact of Trump’s refusal to adhere to health experts’ guidelines: The large crowd on the White House’s South Lawn was largely maskless and seated closely together. As one anonymous senior official callously told CNN’s Jim Acosta, “Everybody is going to catch this thing eventually.”

Much of the time that Trump was center stage during the RNC, he spent it warning of a dark world filled with death and destruction should Joe Biden win the general election in November. But the apocalyptic world that he described is nearly identical to the one Trump’s failed leadership has created.

There was a lot of fearmongering at the RNC, but the event concluded without a single mention of how many Americans have died due to COVID-19. This calculated omission is a disturbing glimpse into the Trump campaign’s election strategy, one that we won’t allow to continue unchecked. After the Republicans’ weeklong festival of lies and misdirection, it’s more important than ever that we continue to push back against lies from Trump and his cronies – and to hold them all accountable for playing political games with our lives.