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This special episode of Positive America is brought to you by quitte if you're looking for new content to fill your time to summer, look no further than Quebec. Quimby is a brand new streaming platform that offers new episodes of original shows every single day, like Emmy nominated Free Rashon, a gut wrenching series about wrongfully accused war veteran trying to clear his name. I'm always on the hunt for content. I know you are.

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It is good people on that show. Now, don't just take our word for it.

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See what everyone's raving about for yourself. Find Quimby in the App Store to watch Free Rashon now with your two week free trial. That squibbing spelled Q Mutebi. Welcome to Positive America, I'm Jon Favreau. I'm John Lovett. I'm Tommy Vietor. I'm Dan Pfeiffer on today's Parred. The gang's all here to talk about Donald Trump's acceptance speech and the entire Republican National Convention, which I think has been going on for about three months now for five. Right.

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Do you think it's really extraordinary? Actually, I actually like I actually am starting to have a problem with you. Like, I'm not even I'm sorry to get back. Like, I'm actually fine with it.

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Sincerely, if you found another way to help, maybe you have. And so I apologize. But if you haven't signed up for anything yet and you haven't signed up for votes of America yet and you listen to this, what are you the fuck is wrong with you now?

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Nearly two hundred thousand of you, actually over two hundred thousand of you have signed up. So to you.

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Thank you. You can keep listening. Love. It is not telling you to fuck off. He's telling the other people. And by the way, I was careful about what I said. I did not tell anyone to stop listening. Yes. And I and I was order of operations. The promo codes. That code and volunteer is going to set you that code crooked. So please. Thank you.

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OK, so the best news I have for all of you today is the Republican National Convention is over in the middle of a pandemic and a recession.

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Donald Trump delivered a fairly low energy acceptance speech on Wednesday night that lasted well over an hour in front of about fifteen hundred mostly unmasked supporters who were crowded together on the South Lawn of the White House. Here is a clip.

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My fellow Americans tonight, with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States.

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Profoundly, he profoundly accepts that I want to spend most of our time on the substance and message of the speech, but I do think this is a case where the setting and the optics were part of the intended message.

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What did you guys think?

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Does it say the medium is the message on a human?

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I'm saying this, but the optics of it look impressive, right? It if you are if you are seeing images of it, it looks grandiose and presidential because he's standing in front of the president's house, which is illegal, obviously.

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But I want to separate sort of like the people who just see the image of it from people who will see coverage of the image, because those are two separate things that have different effects.

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If you were someone who just happens to pick up a newspaper and you see a picture of Trump standing before the White House with a crowd before him, I think that evinces some measure of strength to some number of people. If you are reading coverage of it, I think that is a much messier deal where you were reading about the potential illegality, the norm breaking of it, the unprecedented nature of it, and the huge nonsocial distance unmasked crowd, which I think muddled his message a little bit.

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He would have been much better off doing this like Penn State somewhere other than the White House. I don't think the optics were worth the noise since the overwhelming majority of people will consume coverage of the speech, not the speech itself. It Tommy, I'm wondering about like people like most of us who are watching the speech from their homes, which they have not been able to leave in months, or and when they do leave, them have to wear masks and socially distance and not see their friends and then and family.

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And then they see the speech with just a couple of thousand people on the White House, long aisle crowded together with no masks on. Yeah.

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I mean, look, we'll get into this even more when we talk about his message. But like last night, the White House lawn looked like the coronavirus does not exist and may be projecting normalcy makes people feel like there's light at the end of the tunnel. But given how bad is covert handling numbers are, I would worry about making that bet. I mean, so, yeah, I don't know. I mean, look what I saw that watching him and Melania walk down the stairs in that long, like, boom shot, like it looked to me like some fascist leader who has used the entire power of the state to benefit himself politically.

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That was my take away. Yes, it's pretty. The White House is gorgeous, but it was like it hit me in a dark way. Love it, would you think?

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Yeah, I think I felt the same way. I think it was a fascist event. I think we should be very angry and upset about the Hatch Act violation. I think we should be angry and upset about reporters diminishing it or dismissing it because of assumptions about what works and what doesn't work. That said, I also think we we live in a country that doesn't fetishize the White House as much as Donald Trump thinks we do.

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I think that he used the bully pulpit. There are plenty of images of Donald Trump giving speeches in front of around the White House.

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He was denied a big convention moment. But I don't know that being on the South Lawn is that much more impressive or presidential in terms of what it projects than if you were doing it in a convention hall or to Dan's point somewhere else. But so that was sort of my feeling on it. I think what makes it important is that, you know, consistently Donald Trump is you know, he's a raptor testing the fences. And this is yet another way he is showing that he can abuse his office, even the language that we use around it.

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You know, Trump blurring the lines between the Trump campaign and the White House. It's not really true. He's he's not blurring the lines. He is using the White House to do a campaign event. The White House did not become part of his campaign. He just abused the White House. There's no when Trump if we manage to get Trump out, we won't have to, like, reassess whether or not the White House continues to be part of Trump's campaign.

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There's no blurred line. There's an abuse of power.

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What are you saying that we shouldn't call theft blurring the lines of ownership? That's right. That's exactly right. Yes, that's a great point. Dan, what a what a smart communication. What I was trying to say. I'm so grateful. So great.

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Yeah.

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I guess what bothers me more than all the hatcheck problems is just like I'm watching him at the end of the speech, like look at his name, be spelled out in fireworks over the Washington Monument.

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There's like tens of millions of people unemployed, millions of people sick with the deadly virus. We've lost one hundred and eighty thousand people to this pandemic like it's the most out of touch thing I've ever fucking seen a president do in the middle of a reelection.

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Hugo Chavez on a balcony cheering for himself as fireworks go off and millions of people live in poverty. It was it was nuts. I can't believe that happened.

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You know, it's like I just I almost I want us to go at it. I want more Democrats to go at it from the like.

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You are fucking over the working people of this country who are also sick and scared of getting sick so that you can live in your fucking you know, with all of your rich friends on a lawn watching fireworks. I'd rather that be the argument than like you're violating the Hatch Act.

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I think the covid part is probably the most politically significant part of it, just in the way that the the the abnormal setting of the Democratic Convention reinforce the message about Trump's mishandling of the pandemic, seeing all of these unmasked people sitting together in ways we as no one has seen, anyone sitting anywhere not at a Trump event for six months, reinforces the great critique of Trump that he is not taking the virus seriously enough.

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And they did do work over the first three days of the convention with videos about testing and people talking about the China ban and all of that. And they undid that and more with the images of those events.

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Yeah, just a quick thought. I just don't I just don't think it's either or right. Like we're not the Biden campaign and like, picking a message. I think that yesterday The Washington Post reported that over the course of the first term, taxpayers have paid Trump nine hundred thousand dollars at his personal resorts because he takes trips there all the time, like the Hatch Act violation. That self dealing at all rolls into one narrative that I think is a story we should be telling.

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And should part of this coverage.

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On top of that, having a fireworks display for yourself in the midst of thirty million people unemployed is nuts for an entirely different reason, is completely out of touch, as you said. I think it's a very good point that it is all it is all one story for sure.

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And I do want to note that a senior White House official also said to CNN last. About the nonsocial distanced crowd that was sitting there, everybody is going to catch this thing eventually, which is like attending and then reading that book, one which is the plan.

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This is the White House. This is Donald Trump's plan for the coronavirus is everyone's going to catch it eventually. It is herd immunity.

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That is the policy of this country goes to Herman Cain is like, oh, yeah, but still but still tweeting blows from him from a speech writing standpoint.

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From a technical standpoint, what did you think about the overall quality of the speech and the delivery? Yeah, so.

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So the delivery was terrible, was very it was very halting. He kind of does his teleprompter voice. He seemed tired. He seemed hot. You know, everybody was faking. It was like I was a 90 degrees, very humid in D.C. Seemed like he was feeling it. I've been trying to articulate this. It's hard to it's hard to get right. But like, there's something about him saying I profoundly accept your nomination that I think captures like the reason his speeches are so terrible.

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And you realize, like, what is that speech? Well, it's Steven Miller, kind of a vicious little creep. No empathy, no kind of real deep appreciation for any sort of positive values. Channeling Donald Trump, a similar kind of person with really kind of no ability to capture the grandeur of the presidency, the importance of the presidency, the actual stakes, the actual profundity of what's happening in our country and in this moment. And so what happens when these two people try to do an impression of big emotional, patriotic ideas?

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You end up with just actual gibberish, just just big words. Like it's like somebody went through the kind of history of presidential speeches, took out the words that that Lincoln and and Eisenhower and Reagan, Obama would use. And then just like, well, that's your vocabulary. See what you come up with. But of course, they don't have the ability to use those words to tell any kind of moving or real grounded story, because they're terrible human beings who don't know how to empathize with anybody.

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So we're left with shit. That's what I think. It was more than three times the length of Joe Biden's speech. It was the second longest convention speech in history. The longest speech in history was Donald Trump in 2016.

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That's actually another thing, too. It was actually shocking how much it bounced around, how many times it came back. It had a terrible, lazy structure. He kept coming back to crime, circling back to Joe Biden, circling back to earlier messages that ended three or four times. It was just a mess. Like structurally, it was not a story. It was just a series of the hits they were trying to deliver over what felt like an eternity.

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There are two reviews that he definitely won't like surprisingly flat and didn't seem to have the bite usually has in his speeches. That was Fox News's Chris Wallace. And then Chris has a point. Brit Hume said the speech was very long.

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It's a tough, tough two weeks for Trump when Fox News says that Biden gave a great speech and he gave a bad one.

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Not ideal. I mean, listen, I thought I was boring, too. I think that my reaction to having watched the whole speech of the whole RNC is probably much less important than the narratives that spin out. And and my take away was Trump does seem to have finally have settled on a message, which is that no one will be safe in Joe Biden's America. And the evidence is violence currently happening in Donald Trump's America. And time will tell if that cognitive dissidence plays.

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But Kellyanne Conway admitted again that they want more violence because they think it helps them politically. I think that's a risky bet to prioritize crime when polling from like this month shows that the coronavirus is like at thirty five percent. The most important issue people see, I think crime was four percent. And it's just not the thing voters are most worried about. But maybe they can shift the numbers. But, you know, my biggest personal take away from his speech was just exhaustion watching the Tulsa rally.

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Hey, that was kind of fun, right? Like, this was a brutal four day slog. Every minute of the event was like littered with constant, brazen lying in the big picture. Very sad political takeaway is if you lie all the time about everything, it's impossible to hold you accountable. So he's going to keep doing it. And then if you break the law by violating the Hatch Act or other ethics rules, the media will kind of give you a pass.

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And that just sucks. That's the reality we live in.

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Yeah. Trump's Trump's challenges that when he reads prompter speeches, it's clear that he's only read them for the second time at most, maybe the first time. And so you can get them on message. But then his delivery is pretty boring because he hates the speech. Or you can get him at the Tulsa rally where he's interesting to listen to and keeps the crowd's attention, but says eighty five crazy if get the Ramsdell during the speech that gets that gets you off message.

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So it is sort of a time you mentioned sort of the larger takeaway. Let's talk about how Trump attempted to frame the race as an existential choice about the future of the country. We have a clip.

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This election will decide whether we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny. It will decide whether we rapidly create millions of high paying jobs or whether we crush our industries and send millions of these jobs overseas, as has foolishly been done for many decades. Your vote will decide whether we protect law abiding Americans or whether we give free reign to violent anarchists and agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens. And this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life or whether we will allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.

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That won't happen.

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Oh, Dan, who do you who do you think the intended audience was for Trump's speech? And what was sort of the overall strategy behind that is a great question, John, that frankly, no one knows the answer to.

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I mean, there were they were all the convention was largely a mess, but there were some relatively effective moments throughout the week.

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I don't think Trump's speech was one of them he seems to be speaking to.

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At the same time, in two different ways, the voters who had been with him in 2016 or were open to him as recent as a few months ago, who have left him to try to bring them back into the fold and to try to fire up the the the base and particularly the nonvoting or sporadic voting, likely trump voters in the Midwest.

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And so it's this it is equal parts. I'm not as bad as you think, and I'm even worse than they let you know. So wink, wink, come support me. Right.

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So, you know, it's like for the people in the suburbs, unless racist for those other base voters, I'm even more racist. And so, like, I'm not sure that works. I do think to Tommy's point is they have a narrative about Joe Biden now that they are running with that. I don't know if it'll work, but it could. Yeah, I thought this was a suburbs message, especially suburban women, because he's been saying, like for weeks on Twitter, Hey, you like that suburban neighborhood you live in with only single family homes?

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It'd be a damn shame if something happened to it when Joe Biden installs low income housing in your neighborhood. Right. I mean, the subtext has become the text. Chris Murphy, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy tweeted, Our president is now a proud vocal segregationist. And, you know, we know Biden is up 16 points among registered women and 13 points with suburban women. So I thought he was maybe trying to close that gap.

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I agree. And I think it was more of a cohesive message than I even thought at first, which is like Joe Biden and the radical left are going to destroy the suburbs. They're going to let crime run rampant. There's not going to be law and order. And they're going to tell you that if you worry about that, you're racist, but you're not racist. And neither am I, because here's all the black people speaking at my but also hear the racist things.

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I'm great in here, but it's like I can say these things and they're not racist. And the proof of them not being racist is the people I've surrounded myself with at the convention. And the fact that I have pardoned Alice Johnson and done other criminal justice reform stuff that should show you that I'm not racist and this is just purely a law and order chaos issue. That is that is sort of the whole thing they've been trying to put together.

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And I would just add that if they can and if as part of that sort of broader strategy, they can muddy the waters enough to pick off just a small number of Democratic base voters, just get enough people to stay home or come along righteous and just just win.

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Just enough of the black vote in Wisconsin, when enough of the black vote in Pennsylvania, they could potentially potentially eke out a win because this is going to be potentially so close.

[00:18:56]

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[00:24:54]

So he did have a couple different arguments about Joe Biden in the speech, Tommy, you mentioned, you know, no one will be safe in Joe Biden's America was sort of the main argument. And he actually spent the majority of the entire speech, not just his attacks on Joe Biden. His entire speech on the issue of crime lied again about Biden being for defending the police, all that kind of stuff. And, of course, Mike Pence also had the line.

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No one will be safe in Joe Biden's America in his speech. So it was a concerted message. There were a few other messages about Joe Biden in the speech. He accused him of being a tool of Washington who, quote, spent his career outsourcing the dreams of American workers, offshoring their jobs, opening their borders and sending their sons and daughters to fight in endless wars. He said Joe Biden's agenda was made in China. He accused him of socialism.

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What do you guys what do you guys think is the most effective argument against Joe Biden? Do you think it's the main argument about crime or do you think it was some of these others?

[00:25:48]

I mean, I remember Robert Gibbs once taught me early on in my career that the first rule of spin is it has to be believable. And I would go with the argument, hey, the economy was rockin. I'm a business guy. I know how to do this. We got hit with a once in a century pandemic. We're climbing back out. Give me the keys. I'll get us back there fast. DC Joe, we'll give you more of the same.

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I found myself the same. I thought when he was getting to the Washington stuff that he's been there for forty seven years, I was like, well, that's an argument. It's very hard, I think to say. Joe Biden has been there for forty seven years and he hasn't done anything. But now he will destroy the country by partnering with the radical left. It's just as hard as a hard message.

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I don't want to give them more credit than they think. I think those they work together because saying Joe Biden has been here for seven years is part that he is for the establishment. It's also saying he's old. And what they're trying to say, they're not trying to say that he has this vigorous desire to make America socialist. It's just that he is old and weak. And therefore, AOC, the squad, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, pick your Fox News spokesperson du jour will drive the agenda and what they're looking at there.

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And it's not a crazy strategy like all things little complex.

[00:27:01]

Well, I think the idea that Joe Biden is old and weak and therefore the people calling the shots are the are the Democrats you don't like not like Joe Biden, who you think might be OK, who's a Democrat who might be acceptable to you?

[00:27:14]

That's not a crazy message that can't bring some of his voters back. I don't think it's executed particularly clearly in this speech or throughout this convention. But it could you know, it could absolutely work if it's not responded to appropriately.

[00:27:32]

So Trump did acknowledge the raging pandemic in his speech, though it was mostly to say that actually his administration has handled everything perfectly.

[00:27:41]

Joe Biden has a plan to shut down the entire country, which is not true. He didn't offer much of a plan to actually control the virus other than to say that we'll have a safe and effective vaccine this year.

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Good news, everyone. And that and then he said this, quote, We are focusing on the science, the facts and the data. We are aggressively sheltering those at highest risk, especially the elderly, while allowing lower risk Americans to safely return to work and school, which really is just another way of saying everyone is going to get it eventually.

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Do you guys love it?

[00:28:10]

Do you think he did anything in this speech or this week to fix his covid problem, knowing that it's the top concern for voters, if not tied with the economy and that large majorities believe that he's handling the issue poorly?

[00:28:22]

I mean, look, that sort of that's what's so absurd about this whole conversation about like the incredible threat Joe Biden poses to the country when we're in the midst of a massive crisis that has leveled the country. We're in as deep a hole as we've been in in our lives. I can't imagine that that super spreader event is going to help people believe that Donald Trump is taking the virus seriously.

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You know, super spreading lies, if you will, just workshopping it.

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And, you know, the the the the event itself is like an epidemiological version of the lies that they told throughout the campaign, which is just a kind of brazen disregard for anybody who takes the virus seriously, takes the truth seriously. It's I think, one of the reasons that it felt so painful to watch this convention, I think to Tommy's point, like why it was so like enervating and depleting is because it's not that they don't know that what they're saying isn't true.

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And it's not that they don't know that liberals and some in the media will try to make them pay a price for it. It's that they're saying to all of us, they don't care. They don't care that you're going to call this a super spreader event. They don't care that it's morally reprehensible. They don't care at all because they're trying to tell us that this is no longer a conversation. It's no longer a conversation about the law. It's no longer a conversation about what's best for the country.

[00:29:38]

It's no longer an actual debate about solving problems. It's about power. It's about subjugation. It's about winning at all costs, even if they have to do it illegally or by stealing the election. That is what to me is so ultimately scary about this political event. It is the combination of the law breaking and the lack of respect for the pandemic because it's sending everyone a message that they don't care about anything but power. Here's my question for you guys.

[00:30:00]

So like our lives in L.A. and San Francisco, they are unrecognizable to what they were last year. Right? I'm still locked in my house. We never work together. I was talking to a friend yesterday who had just gotten back from Michigan and she said kind of felt like things were all back open, like gyms were still closed, but like people were acting like the world was moving on a little bit. I don't I can't confirm that. But I guess my point is, I don't know how things feel in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh or Milwaukee right now.

[00:30:29]

Like the national polling suggests that 60 percent of the country is worried about social distancing ending too soon versus 30 percent who worry it will go on too long. But that could change over time. I mean, Trump is kind of rolling the dice on one, projecting things. Being better through this event, through his rhetoric, could maybe make you think it's better. And two, that he can roll out some, like snake oil, miracle cure between now and Election Day.

[00:30:56]

Those are big bets. But we'll see.

[00:30:58]

I agree. I think that's I mean, I think about that more than I even think about the effect of, you know, some of these protests and some of the violence that has taken place in some of the protests and some of these cities and how that will have an effect on the race. I think of sort of like the shape of the pandemic and where it's going like are we in another period like we were in in May and June, where it seemed like things were calming down and everything went back to normal.

[00:31:23]

And then around the Fourth of July, there were outbreaks around the south, in the southwest. And here where we live in Los Angeles, there was one. Right.

[00:31:30]

So, like you're starting to see that, too, with some of these schools opening, like colleges are opening and they're closing down again. Schools are opening. And then like hundreds of people are testing positive. Like the one thing that the virus has shown from the beginning is that, like, the virus is incredibly patient and it can wait us out. And the only thing that's changing our policies around social distancing and closing things out or opening them, the virus isn't changing.

[00:31:53]

Right. We're getting we're getting a little better at treating the virus. Right. Like when people do, the hospitalizations are improving. When people do go to the hospital, they're less likely to die, like just because we're getting better at treating it.

[00:32:04]

But the virus isn't the virus is going to keep spreading if you give it the oxygen to spread.

[00:32:08]

Yeah, I would just also add that to that. Not like it is also true that sort of the risk ebbs and flows in the sense that, you know, there have been outbreaks, places have opened and had to close, as John saying. But but the aggregate is more and more people in the country know people who have had it, know people who have died from it or face serious consequences from it. And like the order of magnitude. Now, we're not talking about something that's rare.

[00:32:30]

We're talking about. Places like Arizona, where like one in 30 people have had it right, like that's a huge percentage of people in a population to have had something because that means everybody knows people that have had it. So, like, I don't know, I think it's a totally fair question. But like, you know, all evidence that I have seen makes me think that Trump is underestimating people's fears about this virus.

[00:32:53]

Yeah. So as far as sketching out a second term agenda, the speech was fairly short on specifics. Trump made a vague promise to create 10 million jobs, reduce taxes and regulations, appoint more judges, keep out immigrants, kick the shit out of China, battle, cancel culture. One of the best lines in the speech, in a funny way, was at the end when he said Cancel culture never created so good.

[00:33:15]

Oh, or like America wasn't built by Cancela culture. It was something ridiculous. Kind of was though. It kind of fucking was. The Declaration of Independence is canceling King George the third. The Declaration of Independence is that is a is a declaration of cancellation and it's time we talk about it. He also proposed putting the first woman on the moon. Just throw them out there. That's Hillary Clinton. That's who he thinks he should send. Good one.

[00:33:48]

Dan, did Trump say enough about his second term agenda? How much do we think it matters?

[00:33:52]

I don't think it matters that much. I mean, he gave people an impression of what a second term of Trump would be like, which is the first term up until six months ago. If you like that, then you you should want four more years of that.

[00:34:04]

And whether he was never he didn't really have any plans when he ran the first time other than the wall, that's still the centerpiece of his agenda.

[00:34:10]

I don't I don't I wish we had a president who had some desire or idea of what he would do with the power given to him to improve the country one way or the other.

[00:34:20]

But Trump has never been that person, and he won despite being that person in 2016.

[00:34:24]

So it's not about necessarily for the vast majority of voters, the specific policies is about whether you have a vision of what it looks like. And he I think he did paint that whether that is a broadly acceptable enough vision to win re-election. That's a very debatable point. But I don't think he does not he is not someone who is known for or needs a laundry list of policies because he's a moron, basically.

[00:34:50]

It's just it's such a weird like I agree with you that his message has always been bet on me, like I alone can fix it, right.

[00:34:55]

That was literally the slogan, but know, build the wall, lock her up. And the war is like he's delivered on none of the specifics, but he used to say them.

[00:35:04]

But wouldn't you want to have a 10 part plan to make America great again. Again continued like that is full of proposals that are more popular than your forty one percent. It could be simple lies like the rest of it, like get all troops out of Afghanistan and Syria, cut taxes for the middle class, a billion new jobs. Why not just roll that out? I don't I mean, you could like he did put out that bullet point document last week or the one hundred years ago or whatever that was.

[00:35:33]

He never says it. I mean, he's incapable of. Right? Yeah.

[00:35:37]

I think it is much more about painting a vision of what your second term would look like for voters. And I think he did accomplish that. There's definitely many better ways to run his campaign than he is currently doing it. Like, yes, you would certainly adopt policies.

[00:35:52]

And I think I think this is the one thing there's a fair critique of him is that he in 2016, he had a bunch of rhetoric that alluded to policies that indicated that he was a different sort of Republican.

[00:36:04]

Right? Sure. That's what trade was about. But he promised not to cut entitlements. He said publicly that he would raise taxes on the wealthy, even even though his tax plan cut taxes for them. But he said a bunch of things that made people think he's not like the Republicans I don't like. And the danger for him is that he has governed much more like the Republicans you don't like. And he could have ways to harken back to that, that he does it.

[00:36:29]

So I think that's fair. Yeah, I noticed that he did combine the message of the whole week, basically combined, like traditional Republican policies and hot button issues for them, like abortion with Donald Trump sort of the outsider, anti-establishment guy who's going to fight the system with the like more Trump in sort of insane Fox News, cancel culture like all this stuff that drives the base, which is not really issues today, which drives Trump's base. Yeah, exactly.

[00:37:02]

So he put all those three things together.

[00:37:05]

Let's talk about the final night of the convention where the two and a half hours of programming was both heavy on Trump's message about crime and on his criminal justice reform record. It also featured a number of former Democrats, black Americans and Latino Americans talking about how they're now supporting Trump. One of the big speeches was from a woman named Alice Johnson, whose life sentence for drug trafficking Trump commuted love.

[00:37:25]

But what did you think of the final night and particularly the message from people like Alice Johnson? Yeah, you know, there was there was Alice Johnson, there was also the family of Kayla Mueller who, you know, who was killed by ISIS in Syria, and it's like it's harrowing and difficult to watch. You know, Alice Johnson's story is powerful. That family's story is incredibly tragic and powerful. And I don't know what it means for this convention to be effective.

[00:37:52]

But I think what struck me is ultimately examples. Stories that are told during these events are meant to elucidate a deeper set of policies and goals and interests are not just supposed to be trying to pick off constituencies or attack people or score points. They're meant to tell a story. Right, that that Alice Johnson story is meant to convey the fact that Trump is somehow sympathetic or against mass incarceration. The naturalization ceremony is meant to convey that Donald Trump actually wants naturalization to take place as opposed to what he's actually doing, which is trying to stop it at every turn.

[00:38:27]

And so what I took away from it is that just inside of the very obvious lies that have been told throughout this week, there is a kind of deeper bit of misinformation going on throughout the convention, which is they are using examples not to not to show us who Donald Trump is, but to hide who Donald Trump is. Right. To pretend he's a good person, to pretend he cares about these issues, to pretend he's been some kind of a leader on foreign policy, to pretend that he actually believes in any kind of immigration.

[00:38:51]

And so that was sort of my takeaway in what happened last night.

[00:38:55]

Tell me what you think. I mean, they were like kind of two parts, right, you the weird like Rudy Giuliani, Sweat plus impeachment variety show section. You had like Lou Holtz coming out of nowhere to remind us why everyone hates Notre Dame football. Like Dana White, the mayor guy probably did a decent job.

[00:39:15]

There were those really like searing emotional moments, though, like Kayla's parents offering a testimonial about how you basically Trump killed Baghdadi, who had treated rape their daughter in just a horrific story. I think that their their argument that Trump had been president, she would have been rescued alive is obviously unprovable. I suspect it's over the top, but it's incredibly emotional. We also heard from Debra White, whose husband, David Dorn, was a retired police officer who was murdered in St.

[00:39:44]

Louis when he tried to stop people from robbing a store after a protest. That was another incredibly dark, intense like law and order moment. I think the day after coverage will be complicated by the fact that David Dorn's daughters asked her, not she's their stepmom, not to politicize her father's death because they said their father didn't like Trump, thought he was ruining the country, that he was a racist. So, you know, it was it was very intense, I guess, kind of like the best way I can describe it.

[00:40:14]

Yeah. I don't know if it's it's effective.

[00:40:17]

I don't know if it's smart, but I do think it was a recognition that he is losing partly because of the view that he is a racist asshole. Like it was very it was a very defensive convention. In many ways. It was them recognizing that part of the reason he is losing right now is because people think there is something faulty about his character and they think that he is xenophobic, they think he is racist, whatever it may be. And so much of the convention, I actually thought the convention would be heavier on anti Biden stuff.

[00:40:47]

Like they certainly got some of that done, but they spent most of it.

[00:40:51]

They spent most of the convention trying to build up Trump and then telling people he's not he's not racist and you're not racist for supporting it. That was the main message to me.

[00:40:59]

Even even the speech at the White House itself is still there's this implicit desire for them to be like it's actually not that crazy that we made him president. You know, it's actually not that big of a deal, it seems. OK, that's sort of it's the same. It's him taking pictures behind the desk as well. It's like he belongs there. It's fine. It's fine that he's president. Don't worry about it. Then what did you think?

[00:41:22]

I mean, the whole night, like the rest of the convention, was sort of a mess of very different messages that were relatively conflicting.

[00:41:29]

I agree with you. Like what sense what you in love about said about sort of what the message was, is that he's not a racist. He's not as bad as you think.

[00:41:36]

There is a better version of that message that Ivanka and her pretty terrible speech did do, which is one that was actually in the very first ad of Trump's re-election, which is that he he's kind of an asshole, but he's an effective asshole. He's your asshole, which is a better message than Trump is this empathetic, nice person, because that's just not believable.

[00:41:59]

And that will even if you convince people of that in the moment, he is going to do something moments after leaving that stage that will undo that work. So you might as well just spin the benefits of his asshole. There he is.

[00:42:10]

Suppose, trying to convince people he's not the Trump is not a racist and are going to prove it by finding every single black and Latino Republican we can possibly find and give them very prominent speaking spots within the convention is probably pretty effective for people who want to be Republican but are concerned about that. And they did. It was like with all Trump things, it lacks and it has no there's no subtlety to it. Right. It's just they're going to the brute force of it is probably actually effective because it's so shocking because what you hear all the time is what a racist Trump is.

[00:42:44]

And all of a sudden you have all these people from Alice Johnson to the attorney general of Kentucky and everyone else out there speaking about him. And I imagine that that to the extent that people saw that, that probably had some impact on some voters that Trump needs to get back.

[00:43:00]

You mentioned ivonka speech. I think we have that clip that you're referring to.

[00:43:03]

Can we play that I recognized in my dad's communication style is not to everyone's taste. And I know that his tweets can feel a bit unfiltered, but the results, the results speak for themselves. Would you? What do you guys think of a VANKA speech, she was one of two potential presidential candidates in twenty twenty four who spoke last night. Tom Cotton was the other.

[00:43:32]

You know, it's funny, this idea that, like, he's a little unfiltered, but he gets results like that would have been the heart of their message if there hadn't been a pandemic. When we were first having conversations about what Donald Trump was going to campaign on last year, he said that thing of like me or hate me, you have to vote for me. Right? That was going to be the core of his message. It's now, though, it's like I'm an asshole, but look how good things are has been now just reduced to I'm an asshole.

[00:43:57]

It's pretty tough. It's a pretty tough message. Yeah. Yeah. The results do speak for themselves, Ivonka. They do. They do. We're trapped in our fucking houses. Yeah.

[00:44:06]

There's Biden new theme of like does Trump even know he's president? I think is really great because the truth is he is impotent. He tweets about violence. He tweets about covid. He doesn't do a goddamn thing to stop it. There is no way he is going to turn this around. He's bad at the job. He doesn't get shit done. He wrote an Obama economy for three months until it tanks because he couldn't deal with covid. That is the truth.

[00:44:30]

I'm an asshole.

[00:44:34]

It's so crazy that I remember being we were all sort of worried about that at right. Because it is a it's you know, he's not nice.

[00:44:41]

You don't like him, but he gets stuff done. It doesn't work when you haven't gotten anything done, not only not get anything done, but the fucking you know, the country's falling apart.

[00:44:49]

Well, I think that's where he's betting on the normalization in people's views of the pandemic. Either it gets better.

[00:44:55]

There is a vaccine, which seems likely, obviously, or people grow more numb to it.

[00:45:00]

The thing that I have I watched pretty carefully is in the Navigator survey, they do word clouds for the conversation and how big covid is in the word cloud has a lot to do with where Trump's covid approval rating is. And there is a world where we just it doesn't flare up. It just stays at this steady, terrible place where we are. And people are a little more used to it by the time November comes. And if that happens. You know, that's sort of I think maybe what Trump's betting on, if it's not going to get better, is that people will it will recede slightly in people's concerns.

[00:45:33]

And then he's got a shot.

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I feel like a lot of people have lost their minds with baby names lately, so I'm really glad that you didn't in this moment decide to name him like Charlie Constitution or something.

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Oh my God. What if his name was like a lot of that is his name is Resistance Charlie favorite. Charlie. Artie, if you agree.

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[00:50:07]

So Tom Cotton also spoke.

[00:50:09]

He one of the other big speakers of the night. He delivered a four minute speech that focused primarily on Trump's supposed foreign policy wins and how Joe Biden will be weak on China. Here is a clip.

[00:50:17]

Joe Biden would be as wrong and weak over the next four years as he has been for the last fifty. We need a president who stands up for America, not one who takes in a strong and proud America is a safe America, safe from our enemies and safe from war. No one who's seen the face of a. Desires to see it again, too many of our fellow Americans are already honored at the hallowed grounds of Arlington, but if we want peace, we must be strong.

[00:50:52]

Weakness is provocative.

[00:50:55]

Look, Tommy, how much do you love Tom Cotton? Give that guy a cup of coffee. Something like that was a Breitbart comment section version of a foreign policy speech. And I expected to be really pissed when I read the excerpts because it's so full of lies like this. The whole bit on Biden in China is it's a absurd. And B, we know from John Bolton, the former national security adviser, that Trump asked Xi Jinping to help him get re-elected.

[00:51:22]

We know that Trump told Xi that building concentration camps for wiggers, a million of them to be reeducated or worse is the right thing to do. And we know that he gave China cover as they strangle Hong Kong's democracy rights like that policy. Throat clearing aside, Tom Cotton is just a bad speaker. It was compelling. Eric Trump was better than Tom Cotton.

[00:51:45]

And honestly, I felt better after it was over because it made me go from thinking this guy is like a serious threat in twenty, twenty four to like this guy is kind of a mediocre goober.

[00:51:54]

That was my that was my non foreign policy expertise view of the dumb guns speech too.

[00:51:59]

I was just like, man, all this time we were worried about Tom Continenza before. I suppose we still should be worried.

[00:52:04]

But like we said, that guy has the charisma of a fucking shoe.

[00:52:09]

Yeah, I think look, I think what we saw in Tom Cotton speech is the danger of what happens when someone like him Guilfoile uses up all the cocaine on Nightline and also does like look, Tom Cotton is not a famous speaker.

[00:52:21]

He's a famous op op ed columnist. And now we see what happens when he is when he tries to translate that to a new media. Harvard educated New York Times columnist Tom Cotton.

[00:52:30]

Before we go, let's talk about where the campaign goes from here. We won't really know how or even if the conventions will affect the race until we see more polling next week. Again, the polling this week is still not got to wait till next week.

[00:52:43]

We also know the convention bounces usually fade away, but I do think conventions are a good indicator of where each campaign is going and how they think about the final homestretch we've talked about.

[00:52:54]

It trumps all in on the message that Biden will make America on safe. Kellyanne Conway told reporters that more violence helps their campaign. So the question now is how does the Biden campaign respond to this going forward?

[00:53:06]

George Packer has a much talked about tweeted about peace in the Atlantic today, saying that Biden should immediately go to Kenosha and give a speech about bringing the country together. There is a lot of angst in Democratic circles, a lot of discussion in media circles about what the Biden campaign will do in response to this. Dan, what do you think about how the Biden campaign should respond to the RNC and Trump's latest line of attack here?

[00:53:29]

I'm somewhat mystified by the entire conversation around this. And look, I obviously come at this from the perspective of worry about everything. So people are definitely worried about this. But we had this exact conversation two months ago. Is it possible for Joe Biden to speak out against violent protest and keep his base? Yeah, he did it after George Floyd. And so I don't. Is it possible for Joe Biden to say he's not for defund the police and keep his base?

[00:53:56]

Yes, we know that because he did that two months ago.

[00:53:59]

So, of course, we like images of chaos, have potential to be weaponized by Trump and the Republicans, but by this is one place where a lot of unknowns in this campaign.

[00:54:10]

But how Biden responds to this is something we know because he has done it once before and he has done it successfully.

[00:54:15]

And so I think where everyone is looking for things to worry about and if we find a well or overwritten piece in the Atlantic that speaks to those deep concerns, maybe people will freak out about it.

[00:54:28]

But I think Biden has demonstrated how to handle this. And I you know, we saw a member of Jacob Blake's family say either last night or today that Biden called and spoke to them for an hour. Donald Trump did not mention them. Right. He is like where Biden has the ability to demonstrate his empathy and decency and the part of his story that is about dealing with grief and helping others deal with grief. That is a place of strength for him.

[00:54:54]

And it's a place, a huge comparative advantage against Trump. And so I think he has been doing that will continue to do that. And I think we know how that will play out. Tommy, what do you think? Yeah, I was a little surprised by the the George Packer, you know, freak out this morning. I mean, I think we all need to remember that is as yo yo as we feel by the presidency and by the campaign in the news cycle because we watch it obsessively.

[00:55:19]

Donald Trump's numbers have been the most stable of like any president ever in recorded history. Right. He's always in the same place. And I think the Biden people are presumably have polls in key swing states like on a daily or weekly basis, and they're tracking these number and closely watched these law and order attacks. And if those numbers move, they will need to respond in some way. But I would wait before I take the bait. On bad faith attacks from Donald Trump, Biden should speak about racial justice and police reform in his own way, on his own terms at the time that he sees fit.

[00:55:56]

In the interim, I think that the entire country is incredibly worried about covid. They're really worried about the economy. I would not let Donald Trump suck me away from talking about those core far more important issues to people in polling. Love it. Yeah, no, I agree with all that, like fundamentally what Donald Trump is saying and trying to imply is that that that the people protesting, fighting for equality, fighting for dignity for black people is a threat to you.

[00:56:28]

Right? That's what he's basically saying, that like, if these people succeed, if they if they're able to achieve any kind of victory in this fight against racial injustice and racial injustice and policing that will cost you, it'll affect you, it'll hurt you. And I think Biden can be much bigger and he can talk about the fact that equality doesn't hurt anybody. It's not going to hurt you. It's not going to hurt you to allow everybody to have dignity, that there's enough dignity to go around.

[00:56:51]

There's enough America to go around. Right. Like that's been a kind of core part of what he's been saying. And I think he can make that a big part of what he's saying. He can speak to the protests. He can speak to what's happening in Kenosha without giving in or taking the bait from Trump.

[00:57:05]

Yeah, I've been trying to think of what happened to public opinion between the protests after George Floyds murder in June and today. And what you can see in the numbers is that opinion around the protests and specifically around instances of looting and violence has begun to polarize around on party lines. And so most of the decrease in support comes from Republicans, Republican leaning independents, people who watch Fox News, which since June has been running footage on loop of fires and violence and everything else.

[00:57:43]

So it's not terribly surprising that a public opinion would change a bit. And so, you know, you see some evidence in some focus groups already that people have been talking about where there's people who voted for Trump in 2016 who say they're undecided now, who are now tending to think maybe they'll go back to Trump because of some of the things they've seen in Kenosha or Portland or elsewhere.

[00:58:04]

You're hearing anecdotal evidence that evidence of this we may see it in polling in the next couple of weeks, but it is on the margins and it is sort of like Trump voters who were thinking about leaving and maybe coming back.

[00:58:15]

And you would almost expect polls to tighten as things become polarized closer to Election Day anyway, regardless, as like some Republicans come home.

[00:58:24]

I think the question is to what extent that happens. I think in terms of what Joe Biden should do, he he's been doing the right thing so far. He like you said, he's he's called Jacob Blake's family. He has stood on the side of the protests and racial justice and police reform while still saying, obviously, you know, burning down a city is bad. Right. And I'm sure he will continue to say that. But I tend to agree with Tommy, which is he can't he can't let the conversation get away from the pandemic and fixing the economy.

[00:58:57]

And the more he talks, the more he, like, wraps himself in an actual trying to figure out exactly how to comment on every instance of violence. The more that the media conversation will be about Trump versus Biden on crime and violence, as opposed to Trump versus Biden on the pandemic, which is where the Biden campaign wants to be.

[00:59:14]

And you can tell that with all of their statements and all of their responses to the convention, they keep bringing it back to covid because they know that's the best fight to have with Donald Trump.

[00:59:23]

I mean, ultimately, the trick with Trump is always to call out his game, don't play this game right.

[00:59:30]

And so explain what he is trying to distract from, explain why he is trying to divide people and who benefits from that is the best way to handle, because that gives you the ability to bring it back to home base.

[00:59:40]

Well, I mean, like this morning, Trump tweeted about how Governor Ivor's sent in Wisconsin, sent in the National Guard, and he's like and Wednesday was a perfectly peaceful night.

[00:59:48]

It's like, well, you know what? Governor Ivar's, the Democratic governor of Wisconsin, made that decision on his own. You didn't do shit. Your top adviser went out and said that the violence helps your campaign. That's what you did. He continues to pour gas on the fire. And Joe Biden needs to say that you want you want four more years of this guy putting gas on the fire and screwing up the pandemic and everything else that's go for it.

[01:00:11]

If you want to change, if you want to go, if you want things to be calm again, you want competent government, let me know.

[01:00:18]

The other way to make the connection to me is that they're going out there and saying, oh, they're burning businesses, they're destroying businesses. And if covid were arson, right. You know, Donald Trump has lit 20 million jobs on fire. Right. Like the damage that he has done to the economy is so much so far beyond the scale, so much greater than anything anybody can point to with these protests. If you are worried about this kind of destruction, look at the destruction Donald Trump has.

[01:00:40]

Yeah, I mean, look safe in Joe Biden's America. Do you feel safe in Donald Trump's America right now? We can't fucking leave our houses. We're not safe in Donald Trump's America.

[01:00:49]

This is it's crazy. I mean, that's the way to flip all of this messaging on Trump.

[01:00:53]

Is Trump like in Tell Me point this out earlier, is that Trump is saying that look at all of this, these horrible things that are happening under my presidency in the first term, I will stop them in the second term.

[01:01:04]

And but what like all the imagery about the you know, the the White House, the fireworks, the safe in Joe Biden's name, that's all about Trump, the strong man. Right. He's trying to say that I am the one who can protect you.

[01:01:17]

And it's a very alone can fix me. Yes. And it's a it is a not very subtle message to white people that I'm the one who can protect you from black protesters, brown immigrants, terrorism, all the things it's all about, driving up white fear, the classic Republican charge of yours.

[01:01:31]

But there was a way that Biden can take all of this and use it to undermine Trump's strength. And when you undermine Trump's strength, all of his argument falls out the bottom. Yeah, I agree. All right, guys, we did it, we're we're at the end of the two convention weeks we have, thank God the takes have all been offered.

[01:01:49]

The conventions are over. And now 68 days, I believe.

[01:01:53]

Sixty seven. Sixty seven days until the election. So go to vote. Save America, dot com, slash, adopt, pick a state.

[01:02:02]

Let's get to work and we'll see you guys next week. Hi, everyone.

[01:02:06]

Everybody. God Save America is a crooked media production. The executive producer is Michael Martinez, our associate producer is Jordan Waller.

[01:02:19]

It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chadwick. Kyle Soglin is our sound engineer, thanks to Tanya Nominator, K.D. Lang, Roman Papadimitriou, Caroline Reston and Elisa Gutierrez for production support into our digital team, Elijah Konar Melkonian, Yael Friede and Milo Kim, who film and upload these episodes as videos every week.