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Highlights From Night 1 of the Republican National Convention

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  • The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday night with a number of speakers that went viral for their comments.
  • In an opening speech, President Donald Trump joked that the crowd should chant “12 more years” to “really drive” his critics “crazy.”
  • Later, Mark and Patricia McCloskey — the St. Louis couple who went viral in June after pointing their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters — gave a controversial speech where they warned that “your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.” Critics have derided the speech as fear-mongering.
  • Former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle also trended online after an impassioned speech where she claimed that Democrats want to steal Americans’ liberties and freedoms.
  • In what has been widely viewed as a potential presidential bid for 2024, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC.) said the election is more than just about Trump or Biden, arguing “it’s about the promise of America.

President Trump’s Opening Speech

The first night of the Republican National Convention took off with a heated start Monday as several notable figures gave impassioned remarks. If you missed out on any of the speeches, here’s a breakdown of some of the most talked about moments.

The convention began with an opening speech from President Donald Trump, who was greeted by chants of “Four more years!” from the crowd.

“Now, if you want to really drive them crazy, you say 12 more years,” Trump said in an attempt to get a rise out of his critics.

While some members in the crowd then met Trump with those cheers, criticism of his joke has been strong. That’s likely because this is not the first time Trump has mentioned staying in office past the required, two-term limit. 

“One does not joke about 12 more years,” veteran Tim Corcoran said on Twitter. “That’s called a dictatorship. We fought wars with people who refused to be removed from power. This is a slap in the face to all veterans who fought for democracy.”

“We have to be very, very careful, and you have to watch,” Trump then said, shifting focus to universal mail-in voting. “Every one of you, you have to watch. Because bad things happened last time with the spying on our campaign and that goes to Biden and that goes to Obama and we have to be very, very careful… and this time they’re trying to do it with the whole Post Office scam. They’ll blame it on the Post Office. You can see them setting it up.” 

The push for universal mail-in voting in some states stems from fears that long lines and lack of social distancing at polls on election day will lead to votes being unable to be cast and spikes in coronavirus cases.

Democrats and some Republicans have noted that mail-in voting has proved to be a very secure form of voting in previous elections and will provide an additional level of safety for voters’ health, especially those who are immunocompromised. 

Still, Trump and many other conservatives either worry or have outright claimed universal mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud — even though there’s no evidence to support this, and instead, studies have found fraud to be overwhelmingly rare. 

Gun Couple Fear Mongering Criticism

Later in the night, Mark and Patricia McCloskey — the St. Louis couple who went viral in June after pointing their guns at Black Lives Matters protesters — spoke from their home in a speech that many have condemned as fear-mongering. 

“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country,” Patricia McCloskey said. 

“Whether it’s the defunding of police,” her husband began, “ending cash bails so criminals can be released back out on the streets the same day to riot again, or encouraging anarchy and chaos on our streets, it seems as if the Democrats no longer view the government’s job as protecting honest citizens from criminals, but rather protecting criminals from honest citizens.” 

“Not a single person in the out of control mob you saw at our house was charged with a crime. But you know who was? We were. They actually charged us with felonies for daring to defend our home.” 

The McCloskeys were charged in July with unlawful use of a weapon for exhibiting a semiautomatic rifle “in an angry or threatening manner.”

The McCloskeys have said that they were afraid and trying to protect their home from protesters who had entered a private street; however, St. Louis circuit court attorney Kimberly Gardner has said that the couple created a dangerous situation involving “peaceful, unarmed protesters.”

“They’re not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence in our communities,” Patricia McCloskey said of Democrats. “They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning. This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness, and low-quality apartments into now-thriving suburban neighborhoods.” 

“Make no mistake,” she added. “No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”

The McCloskeys claim that the Democratic party is pushing for the abolition of suburbia is false. Instead, they’re likely referring to an Obama-era rule that forced local jurisdictions to take steps to prove that they are addressing historical patterns of racial segregation in order to qualify for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) financing. HUD revoked that rule in July. 

Julian Castro, who was the HUD secretary when that Obama-era rule was finalized, called the McCloskey’s speech “a shameful, deceitful, and calculated ploy to drum up racial resentment and white fear.”

“The federal government does not have authority to dictate zoning decisions of local communities,” he added in defense of the rule. That’s very explicit, that’s settled, and this rule in no way requires communities to make specific decisions about zoning.”

Like Castro, many media outlets — including BuzzFeed News, The New York Times, and Business Insider India — quickly labeled the speech as an attempt to stoke fear within the Republican voter base. In fact, a reporter for BuzzFeed News called it “a brazen, thinly veiled racist attempt to win over a crucial voting bloc for Donald Trump.”

Kimberly Guilfoyle

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former prosecutor and former Fox News personality who is currently an advisor leading fundraising efforts for Trump’s re-election campaign, started her speech by declaring her support for Trump before diving into a emboldened critique of a Biden-Harris administration.

“They want open borders, closed schools, dangerous amnesty, and will selfishly send your jobs back to China while they get rich,” she said. “They will defund, dismantle, and destroy America’s law enforcement. When you are in trouble and need police, don’t count on the Democrats.” 

Guilfoyle went on to repeatedly warn of their “socialist agenda” and used Harris’ home state of California as an example, saying that “Democrats turned it into a land of discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets, and blackouts in homes.”

Ironically, like Biden’s campaign, Guilfoyle called the election a battle for “the soul of America.”

“Your choice is clear,” she said. “Do you support the cancel culture? The cosmopolitan elites of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden, who blame America first? Do you think America is to blame? Or, do you believe in American greatness? Believe in yourself? In President Trump? In individual and personal responsibility?”

“They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, leaders and fighters for freedom and liberty and the American Dream, the best is yet to come!” she said in an embellished close.

Guilfoyle’s remarks were easily the most ridiculed of the night. Political commentator Ana Navarro called her unhinged. Steven Colbert mocked her on The Late Show, asking, “Is the loud lady gone?” after playing a clip from her speech.

On social media, some people circulated a video comparing her to Dwight Schrute in a scene from The Office.

A piece by New York Magazine claimed she “screamed at American for six terrifying minutes” and added, “Guilfoyle brought the fear, the fanaticism, and the convention’s fascist timbre to the next level.”

However, many Trump supporters agreed with her sentiments. For example, Fox News Host Sean Hannity described her speech as “impassioned.” 

Sen. Tim Scott

Arguably the most notable speech of the night came at the end when Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC.), the only Black Republican in the Senate, took the stage.

“This isn’t how I pictured tonight, but our country is experiencing something none of us envisioned,” he said. “From a global pandemic, to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, 2020 has tested our nation in ways we haven’t seen for decades. But regardless of the challenges presented to us, every four years, Americans come together to vote.”

To share stories of what makes our nation strong, and the lessons we have learned that can strengthen it further for our children and grandchildren. Because while this election is between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, it is not solely about Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It’s about the promise of America. It’s about you and me, our challenges and heartbreaks, hopes and dreams. It’s about how we respond when tackling critical issues like police reform.”

Scott went on to ask if we want to be a country that “breeds success” or one that “cancels everything.”

Even though Scott still criticized Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the overall tone of his speech, to many, seemed much more hopeful and more personal than those that came before it. 

Afterward, many commentators declared Scott’s speech as his bid for a 2024 presidential run. 

Alongside that, Scott’s speech is largely being interpreted as an appeal to wavering Republicans who may be less enthusiastic about or currently turned off by the idea of voting for Trump. 

Likewise, many commentators now speculate a potential 2024 run from United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley after she made a speech where, among other things, she said, “In much of the Democratic Party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country. This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.” 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Fox News)

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Campaign Season Gets Rolling This Month With Primaries in 13 States

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Several of the contests taking place this month will serve as important tests for Trump-backed candidates and how much power the former president still has over the GOP.


May Primaries Start With Key Race in Ohio

The 2022 midterm season is officially heating up this month with 13 states heading to the polls.

Voters in Indiana and Ohio will kick off the busy month on Tuesday with several highly anticipated races, including one closely watched contest for the seat being vacated by long-time Senator Rob Portman (R-Oh.)

The fight for Portman’s seat has been a heated one: candidates have spent tens of millions of dollars, held numerous debates and forums, and at one point, two of them even got into a physical confrontation. 

The main reason there are so many eyes on this race is because it will prove to be a key test for former President Donald Trump and the influence he has over the party. While Portman has generally been moderate and, at times, more readily critical of Trump than many others in his party, the Republican primary campaign has basically been a fight to see who is the most in line with Trump.

According to FiveThirtyEight, all but one of the seven Republican senate candidates embraced the former president’s election fraud lies as they fought for his coveted endorsement in a state he won by eight points in both 2016 and 2020.

Trump, for his part, ultimately ended up endorsing Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance in a move that surprised many, because Vance had previously been vocally opposed to the former leader and his competitors had spent months running ads noting that fact.

However, the fight for Trump’s backing appears to have been worth it. Last week, a Fox News poll found that support for Vance has surged by double-digits since Trump’s endorsement, making him the front-runner.

Still, as FiveThirtyEight reports, “other factions of the party haven’t given up the fight either — which means the primary will be a direct test of how much clout Trump has when other Republican elites dare to defy him.” 

Meanwhile, there are also concerns regarding the ongoing legal battle over Ohio’s congressional map and the confusion that has caused for the state’s election calendar. For weeks, it was widely believed the state’s primaries would be pushed back after the Ohio Supreme Court ordered GOP lawmakers to redraw their map.

The map had been gerrymandered to give Republicans 12 out of the 15 congressional seats in the state even though they had only won around 55% of the popular vote. Ohio voters also previously passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 that effectively banned partisan gerrymandering.

The election, however, is still going forward anyway, even as early voting was down a whopping 40% from the last election, and the legislative races will not be on the ballot Tuesday, meaning there will have to be a second primary, which will likely drive down turnout even more.

Other Major Races This Month

There are also other notable contests scheduled for later this month. On May 17, there will be two additional races for seats vacated by Republican senators in North Carolina and Pennsylvania that will serve as important indicators of the former president’s sway over the party.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, the main Trump test focuses on two statewide races for the positions currently held by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R). The two infamously angered Trump after they refused to help him overturn the election, and as a result, many are watching to see if the former president’s full-fledged pressure campaign against them will work.

In Georgia and other battlegrounds voting this month, Democrats are also hoping they can make inroads — particularly in Pennsylvania. But recent polls have not painted a good picture for the party. Last week, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 47% of voters said they were more likely to vote for the Republican in their district, while just 44% said they would back Democrats. 

The poll marked the first time in eight years that a Marist survey found the GOP with an advantage for congressional ballot tests. 

See what others are saying: (NPR) (FiveThirtyEight) (PennLive)

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New York’s Highest Court Strikes Down Democrat-Gerrymandered Map

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The move represents a major blow to Democrats, who stood to gain as many as three seats in Congress if their map had been accepted.


Appeals Court Ruling

The New York State Court of Appeals struck down a congressional map drawn by the state’s Democrats Wednesday, dealing the party a major blow.

In the decision, the state’s highest court agreed with Republicans who had argued that the map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Democrats. The justices called the map “substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”

The court also condemned the Democrats for ignoring a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 that aimed to limit political influence in redistricting, which included the creation of an independent entity to draw maps that the legislature would then vote on. However, the commission created to prevent partisan gerrymandering was unable to decide on a map because of its own partisan stalemate. As a result, Democrats in the legislature took it upon themselves to draw a final map.

But the version that the legislature passed and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed into law re-drew lines so that Democrats could have gained as many as three new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Such gains would be highly significant in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, where Republicans are expected to make substantial gains and may very well take back the House. Unsurprisingly, Republicans sued, and a lower court struck down the map.

In their order, the Appeals Court justices took away the legislature’s ability to make the map and instead delegated that power to a court-appointed “neutral expert.” 

While the judges did say there was enough time to finish the map before the primary elections in June, they also added that the Congressional contests would likely need to be moved to August. Races for governor and other statewide officials, however, would stay the same.

Broader Trends

The Appeals Court ruling is unique in that it targets Democrats, but it also comes as part of the broader trend of state courts cracking down on gerrymandering — though most other instances have stemmed from GOP-drawn maps.

In just the first four months of 2022, state courts in Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas, and Maryland have all struck down redistricting plans crafted by lawmakers.

Unlike the New York ruling, some of those other courts have implied that they will still allow those maps to be used in the 2022 elections. Such a decision would very likely disadvantage Democrats even more.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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McCarthy Warned Far-Right Lawmakers Could Incite Violence After Jan. 6 in New Audio of Leaked Call

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The conversations represent a marked difference from the public efforts of McCarthy and other Republican leaders to downplay their members actions.


Leaked Audio

Four days after the Jan. 6 insurrection, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) expressed concern about far-right Republicans inciting violence and openly voiced support for censoring them on Twitter, according to audio published by The New York Times on Tuesday.

The recordings, which come from a call among party leaders and aides on Jan. 10, are by far the clearest evidence top Republicans acknowledged that their members played a role in stoking violence before the insurrection and threatened to do so after.

They also emphasize the vast difference between what top Republicans, especially McCarthy, said behind closed doors, and how they downplayed and ignored the actions of their members in public. 

One of the most notable elements of these recordings is that McCarthy and the others explicitly identified several individuals by name. They focused mainly on Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) and Mo Brooks (R-Al.) as the primary offenders.

In the audio, McCarthy can be heard flagging Gaetz right off the bat.

“Tension is too high. The country is too crazy,” he added. “I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don’t want to play politics with any of that.” 

Specifically, McCarthy and the others talked about how Gaetz had gone on TV to attack multiple Republicans for being unsupportive of former President Donald Trump after Jan. 6. They particularly expressed concern over his targeting of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), who was a member of the leadership team and had already been facing threats.

Others on the call also noted that Brooks had spoken at the rally before the insurrection, where he made incendiary remarks that many have viewed as direct calls to violence. McCarthy said the public comments from his members “have to stop,” adding he would call Gaetz and have others do the same to tell him that this “is serious shit” and “to cut this out.”

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the second-ranking House Republican, asserted at one point that Gaetz’s actions were “potentially illegal.” 

“Well, he’s putting people in jeopardy, and he doesn’t need to be doing this,” McCarthy responded. “We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else.”

Republicans on the call also mentioned incendiary remarks from other members, including Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.), Barry Moore (R-Al.), and Lauren Boebert (R-Co.). Cheney pointed to Boebert as a security risk, noting she had tweeted out incredibly sensitive information about the movements of top leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) during the attack on the Capitol.

“Our members have got to start paying attention to what they say, too, and you can’t put up with that shit,” McCarthy added later. “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”

McCarthy in Hot Water

The newly published recordings also come just days after The Times reported that McCarthy had told members on a call after the insurrection that he would urge Trump to resign.

McCarthy initially called the reporting “totally false and wrong,” but shortly after his denial, The Times received permission from their source to publish audio where he can be heard saying precisely that.

McCarthy, for his part, has tried to spin the situation, claiming that his remarks were still true because he never actually followed through on the plan to call Trump. 

Still, the situation prompted widespread backlash from the far-right faction of the Republican party. 

Multiple people expressed hesitancy about their support for McCarthy as Speaker of the House if Republicans take control of the chamber in the midterm elections. Some said they could not trust him.

Speaking on his show Tuesday, Foxs News host Tucker Carlson called McCarthy “a puppet of the Democratic Party.”

Gaetz also responded with ire, tweeting out a statement in which he referred to the call as “sniveling” and said of McCarthy and Scalise: “This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders.”

Other members mentioned in the call, however, appeared to brush it off. In a statement to Axios, Moore claimed that the story was engineered by “RINOS” (Republicans in Name Only), and that “Republicans will be more united than ever after taking back the House this November.”

It currently remains unclear whether these revelations with pose any long-term threat to McCarthy, but if Trump is any indication of the far-right party line, the House leader may be in the clear.

After The Times published the audio of McCarthy saying Trump should resign, the former president told The Wall Street Journal that the relationship between the two men was untroubled.

“I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly,” he added. “They realized they were wrong and supported me.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Axios) (The Washington Post)

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