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How Trump’s RNC acceptance speech distorted the truth

On the Republican National Convention's final night, President Trump accepted his party’s nomination for a second term -- using the White House as a campaign backdrop. Trump painted the election in stark terms, calling opponent Joe Biden “the destroyer of America’s jobs” whose policies would unleash crime and disorder, while touting his own coronavirus response as a success. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The fall presidential campaign is now officially under way. President Trump traveled to New Hampshire this evening for a rally. It came just hours after he accepted the Republican nomination for a second term, using the White House as a campaign backdrop.

    Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Before a striking White House scene, President Trump defined November's election in dark and dire terms.

  • President Donald Trump:

    This election will decide whether we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    He issued dystopian warnings about Democratic governance.

  • President Donald Trump:

    No one will be safe in Biden's America.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Arguing his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, would dismantle democracy.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Biden is a Trojan horse for socialism.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Destroy the economy.

  • President Donald Trump:

    He is the destroyer of America's jobs.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And unleash violence and anarchy in American communities.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The most dangerous aspect of the Biden platform is the attack on public safety.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 180,000 Americans, seemed to be in the rearview mirror.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country anywhere in the world.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    President Trump misleadingly touted new jobs, which make up less than half of the 22 million jobs lost since March, as evidence that the economy is on its way to a full recovery.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Over the past three months, we have gained over nine million jobs, and that's a record in the history of our country.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    He said that science has driven his pandemic response.

  • President Donald Trump:

    To save as many lives as possible, we are focusing on the science, the facts and the data.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But the spectacle flew in the face of public health guidelines, with the president delivering the speech before more than 1,500 spectators, very few masks, very little social distancing.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The fact is, I am here. What is the name of that building?

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    But I will say it differently. The fact is, we are here, and they are not.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But just outside the White House gates, hundreds gathered to protest his divisive response to the racial justice movement and the pandemic.

    The 70-minute speech was riddled with misinformation and misleading statements on topics foreign and domestic, including repeated mischaracterizations of Biden's positions.

    On immigration, he exaggerated progress on border wall construction.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We have already built 300 miles of border wall.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Most of that wall replaced or repaired existing barriers, and none of it was paid for by Mexico, as Mr. Trump pledged four years ago.

    On energy, President Trump misstated his opponent's position.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Biden has promised to abolish the production of American oil, coal, shale, and natural gas.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Biden has actually called for a ban on new oil and gas drilling on public land, as part of an effort to develop clean energy and fight climate change, but he has not called for an all-out fracking ban.

    On health care, the president repeated this claim:

  • President Donald Trump:

    We will always and very strongly protect patients with preexisting conditions.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Even though his administration is currently in court fighting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and, with it, protections for patients with preexisting conditions.

    And on race and justice, President Trump restated his false claim that Biden supports defunding police departments.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Make no mistake. If you give power to Joe Biden, the radical left will defund police departments all across America.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But the president's statement followed a series of supportive testimonials, like this from Secretary Ben Carson, the lone Black member of Mr. Trump's Cabinet.

  • Secretary Ben Carson:

    Many on the other side love to incite division by claiming that President Trump is a racist. They could not be more wrong.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The president's daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, offered a side of the president the public rarely sees.

  • Ivanka Trump:

    I have been with my father, and I have seen the pain in his eyes when he receives updates on the lives that have been stolen by this plague.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The night ended with President Trump echoing his familiar refrain, nearly identical to his closing words at the convention four years ago.

  • President Donald Trump:

    And, on November 3, we will make America safer, we will make America stronger, we will make America prouder, and we will make America greater than ever before.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Biden pushed back on President Trump's apocalyptic view of Democrats in power, writing on Twitter: "Remember, every example of violence Donald Trump decries has happened on his watch, under his leadership, during his presidency."

    Both candidates now say they will hit the campaign trail in person in some way to reach voters nationwide. For President Trump, that includes a small rally tonight in New Hampshire, with just 67 days to go before the election.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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