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Does Trump’s record align with its RNC portrayal?

The second night of the Republican National Convention offered praise for President Trump’s record on immigration, racial issues and the pandemic. But how does the convention’s content square with the actual policies of the administration? Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss that question and offer a preview of the RNC’s Night 3, which will feature Vice President Mike Pence’s speech.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now to share her reporting, I'm joined by our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor.

    So, Yamiche, hello.

    As we just heard, the first lady did address some of the suffering that's taken place, great suffering among the American people, over this virus, but we don't hear that, we haven't heard that from other speakers at the convention. What more are you learning about that?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's right.

    The tone of first lady Melania Trump's speech was vastly different from what we have heard from the RNC over the last week. She started off by expressing sympathy for people who have been infected by the coronavirus or who have died. She said she understood that some Americans felt helpless because of the virus, and said that you are not alone.

    That said, there were other speakers, most notably, Larry Kudlow, a top White House economic adviser, who talked about the virus as if it was in the past tense, as if it was somehow behind the U.S., and that we — this is all in the rearview mirror.

    So, I want to put up for some people — for people and our viewers numbers that show where we are when it comes to this pandemic. The daily new cases in the United States has decreased in the last month in the United States.

    But this country is seeing 42,000 new cases per day on average during the last week. Also, the U.S. has the second highest average of new cases after India. And, Judy, people in the United States are more — way more people in the United States are dying from the coronavirus than in modernized industrialized countries.

    Another thing to note, a recent poll, a CBS poll, found that Democrats and Republicans see the pandemic in vastly different terms. Republican said that they thought it was acceptable to have about 170,000 Americans die because we are in the midst of a pandemic. But about 90 percent of Democrats said that that number was unacceptable.

    That's just one way that we see this polarized society impacting how people view the coronavirus.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, it's also interesting to look at how the Republicans are talking about the president's record, compared to the actual record, I mean, for example, on the issues of immigration, on race.

    And we know the president even conducted the naturalization ceremony. That was in Amna's report just a moment ago.

    How does all this square with each other?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, first lady Melania Trump talked about how she, as an immigrant woman, saw the president as wanting to welcome in a lot of immigrants and wanting to tackle issues of racial strife in this country.

    But when you look at the president's actual immigration policies, they are a lot different. And I should note, also, as we were talking about first lady Melania Trump, she was someone who was perpetuating the racist idea that former President Barack Obama was not born in this country.

    But to look at the president's own record, in addition to what he said in his rhetoric, let's look at them.

    When you look at the president's own things that have been happening during the pandemic, he's been detaining immigrant children and families at hotels during the pandemic. Also, 100,000 migrants have been expelled from the U.S. since the virus outbreak.

    And according to analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, as a result of President Trump's policies, there will be an estimated 49 percent reduction in legal immigration by 2021, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, finally, Yamiche, what else would you say stood out for you about last night, and what should we look for tonight?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, what stood out was that you saw a lot of speakers really trying to make an emotional connection between President Trump and everyday Americans.

    The president was out talking to people. You saw a lot of videos with him interacting with people. But, as you noted, and as Amna noted, also, the White House was being used in a very central way, in a way that's very untraditional. A lot of people found it to be unethical.

    There is a Hatch Act that's supposed to really keep the campaign and the White House separate. But, yesterday, we really saw the blurring of the lines.

    The other thing to note is that we're going to see a number of White House officials speak tonight. There's Vice President Mike Pence, who is going to be giving the keynote address. There's also Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary. And there's going to be Kellyanne Conway.

    One other thing to note, there were a lot of misleading statements that have been said over the last week, including first lady Melania Trump. She said that there was an unprecedented number of women serving in the Trump administration.

    That simply isn't true, Judy. If you look at the numbers, the key executive nominees, the number of women in those positions in the Trump administration is much lower than when President Obama was in office.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Such important reporting.

    Yamiche Alcindor, thank you, and you're going to be with us tonight, of course, watching it all very closely.

    Yamiche, thank you.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thank you.

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