The TAKE with Rick Klein
Were you better off six months ago than you were four years ago?
That's the awkward question that hovered over President Donald Trump's Republican National Convention this week. It's difficult to pose and dicey to want to have answered, yet unavoidable for an incumbent in this tumultuous election year.
And so the message from Trump, in seeking to transform the classic referendum election into a choice, is to turn to partisanship and polarization. Trump wants an us-versus-them fight, and sees it as his most viable path to a second term.
"The fact is I'm here," Trump said as part of his acceptance speech in front of the White House. "But I'll say it differently: We're here."
For all the attempts to soften Trump's harder edges, and to showcase Republicans who are people of color, the convention showed a candidate interested less in reaching out than in riling up. It's part of Trump's style -- as adapted for the unprecedented crises of the moment.
Last week, Democrats cast Republicans not named Trump as generally well-meaning people worthy of outreach from a new president. This week, Republicans portrayed Democrats as enemies of democracy -- defined by their most extreme elements, worthy of mockery and deserving of crushing defeat.
Trump's speech Thursday night was a long roadmap back to partisan corners. It's where he's comfortable; the question now is whether he can take his base and the nation with him.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
The day after Trump was inaugurated, Washington saw the Women's March.
Now, a day after accepting his party's nomination for a second term -- and days after the shocking shooting of Jacob Blake sparked outrage -- thousands are expected to flood the streets again, this time commemorating the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
While this year's March on Washington was not billed as a protest of this president specifically, this moment will likely draw march-goers in direct opposition to this White House as well as those who are a part of a greater national movement so much bigger than this administration.
That movement is, of course, seeking changes and equity in society beyond party politics, recognition and justice not solved by one election.
Still, over the last few days, Republicans have squarely presented themselves on one-side of this moment, if not missing from the conversation all together. They have doubled-down on rhetoric about law and order, while largely ignoring or even belittling issues of police shootings, police brutality and racial inequity that has led so many to strike and protest.
In fact, Trump on Thursday seemed to mock Democrats' displays of solidarity with protesters.
Several leading Democrats though, including Sen. Cory Booker, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris are set to join a virtual event, hosted by the NAACP and members of the King family, that will accompany the march Friday. The event will also include families of black Americans shot or killed at the hands of police, including relatives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.
With 66 days to go until Election Day, Trump is wasting no time getting back out on the campaign trail, holding another airport hangar rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Friday night, just a day after formally accepting his party's nomination.
Events like Friday's rally at Pro Star Aviation hangar are set to become the norm for the president moving forward, sources told ABC News. After months of trying to reboot his signature massive MAGA rallies in the era of COVID-19, Trump has settled on targeting key states with these hangar events mixed with traditional campaign stops at local diners and restaurants.
Pence, who'd become the Trump Team's key campaigner with rallies on hold in recent weeks, is also set to hit the trail again Friday, campaigning in the battleground states of Michigan, which Trump unexpectedly and narrowly won in 2016, and Minnesota.
He's expected to promote the president's "America First" agenda and portray Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a candidate who "fully embraced radical left policies." Trump lost Minnesota in 2016 by less than 2% and Pence will be speaking in St. Louis County, an area Hillary Clinton won with 51% of the vote.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Political Director Rick Klein, who recaps President Donald Trump's acceptance speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention. ABC News contributor and former DHS acting undersecretary John Cohen examines the rise of right-wing militias after the deadly violence during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And ABC News Senior National correspondent Matt Gutman explains why many areas in Louisiana and Texas were spared from the worst of Hurricane Laura. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Ahead of the last night of the Republican National Convention, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said on the podcast that speakers at the RNC can and should mention Jacob Blake's name, a man who was shot by police seven times in Wisconsin, as Blake's name was only briefly mentioned in the prayer on Tuesday night. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein speak with Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who spoke earlier in the week at the RNC. https://bit.ly/2w091jE
FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast. After the third night of the 2020 Republican National Convention, the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast crew discusses the keynote address by Vice President Mike Pence, who used Nixonian law-and-order rhetoric to appeal to voters. https://bit.ly/2w091jE
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