People For the American Way

Falsehoods and Failures: Republicans at the Convention During COVID-19 (8/27 Update)

News and Analysis
Falsehoods and Failures: Republicans at the Convention During COVID-19 (8/27 Update)

The Republican National Convention (RNC), which is being held this week from August 24 through August 27, has so far been a smorgasbord of outright lies, propaganda, and dangerous behavior from Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans. Due to the scope of appalling developments coming out of the RNC, PFAW is bringing you two editions of “Falsehoods and Failures” this week – one that’s all about Trump’s cronies and one that focuses on Trump himself.

In any given week, Trump can often rely on his Republican allies to lift up his lies and dangerous actions, but at the 2020 RNC, such cronyism is at a reality-bending high. Attempting to provoke more pro-Trump fervor among their base, most speakers leaned into a theme of fear – not of COVID-19, but of the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee.

From race-baiting to misstating the Democrats’ policies, Republicans at the Convention showed little interest in acknowledging Trump’s responsibility for the continued devastation sparked by the ongoing pandemic.

  • Although the RNC has been livestreamed all week, it has also included a handful of live, in-person events. During those events, Republican officials and attendees alike were spotted flouting the social distancing guidelines put in place to reduce coronavirus transmission – including where such measures were mandatory. Even Vice President Mike Pence, leader of the White House’s coronavirus task force, addressed a largely maskless crowd while he, too, neglected to wear a mask.
  • Misrepresentations about the state of the country during the pandemic were rampant at the convention. Speakers consistently gave Trump rave reviews for his coronavirus responses, many of which never happened, and ignored the current state of the country. They portrayed Trump as a “savior of ‘Western Civilization,’” irrespective of the fact that almost 180,000 people in the United States have died due to COVID-19 under his watch. Donald Trump Jr. praised his father’s record on the economy, flatly ignoring the serious and sustained economic problems the pandemic has sparked, which Trump has failed to adequately address.
  • When they weren’t lying about Trump’s responses to the pandemic, Republicans simply pretended that coronavirus no longer existed, often by referring to it in the past tense. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow was particularly guilty of this in his speech, in which he said, “Hardship and heartbreak were everywhere. But presidential leadership came swiftly and effectively with an extraordinary rescue for health and safety to successfully fight the COVID virus.” Kudlow made this speech at the RNC on the same day that more than 1,100 Americans died from the novel coronavirus (a fact he chose not to mention).

It’s clear that the entire convention was geared to one audience member: Trump himself. As the final night of the RNC gets underway, Republicans are uniting with the goal of doing and saying whatever will make Trump happiest. And pretending – irrespective of fact or evidence – that thousands of Americans are not dying every day due to a public health crisis that his failures compounded is certainly what Trump wants the most. But we’re not going to let the Republicans’ lies rest unchallenged, whether they come from the White House, Congress, or anywhere else.