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Final Night of Republican National Convention; One-on-one Interview With Democratic Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden. Aired 8- 9p ET

Aired August 27, 2020 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, the South Lawn of the White House has been turned into President Trump's political stage, signs and all. He is about to cap the Republican Convention by accepting the party's nomination in a major TV moment filled with spectacle, fireworks, giant signs with his name on it and attacks on Democrats.

This hour, former Vice President Joe Biden breaks his silence and hits back at the President in advance. My one-on-one interview with him is straight ahead.

Welcome to CNN's coverage of the final night of the Republican National Convention. I'm Anderson Cooper.

Tonight President Trump will offer voters a stark choice between two candidates, two visions of America and perhaps two versions of reality.

Wolf, the President thinks he is his own best salesman clearly and this is his big pitch tonight.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: He certainly is, Anderson. The President will give this speech live from an elaborate stage. You see it there on the South Lawn of the White House with as many -- get this -- as 2,000 invited guests sitting there in the audience.

That's an alarmingly large crowd right in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.

Only those nearest to the President, we're told will actually be tested for the virus. And as you can see, no one is required to wear a mask during the speech.

The President clearly is ready and willing to use the trappings of his office to promote his agenda and himself, as we have seen throughout this convention.

Tonight, he will be introduced by his daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump and we expect his family also to be on hand.

We're covering all of it with our political team, including Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Abby Phillip.

Jake, so what more are you learning about the President's speech?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Wolf, Republicans say that President Trump will address the hurricane disaster in Texas and Louisiana as one would expect any President to do.

We're also told he will discuss the racial unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The big question is, how will you address the fact that a white policeman shot an unarmed black man seven times in the back in front of his three young boys? Will he discuss the 17-year-old white supporter of his who was arrested for felony counts of killing protesters?

Will he try to seek a way to heal this nation, to unite this nation or will he use American pain and trauma as a cudgel to attack Joe Biden and the Democrats?

Now, I suspect we know the answer, but we shall see. So much of this convention has seemed to be about trying to convince voters that what polls suggest they think about President Trump in terms of his views on minorities or women or immigrants or his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that what they think is wrong, in that way, Dana, this is kind of a convention of who you're going to believe me or your lying eyes?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, President Trump will get some help tonight from one of his most aggressive defenders and consistent ones and that is his lawyer, his friend, and the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani who will double, even triple down on Republicans law and order message.

The Trump team tells us that Giuliani will go after Democratic mayors in big cities, including Bill de Blasio of New York attempting to shred their records, especially on crime that despite Giuliani promising at the G.O.P. convention four years ago that Donald Trump would be the one to make America safe.

The widow of a retired Police Captain will also speak tonight to add an emotional punch to the tough on crime tough on protesters mantra, Ann Dorn's husband was killed while defending a friend's store when protests turned violent in St. Louis this year.

And Abby, we've seen and heard some real contradictory messages this week, but tonight will maybe be one of the most vivid. We're going to hear from somebody like Ann Dorn and the same night, another prominent speaker is Alice Johnson.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. It'll be pretty stark tonight on a night that President Trump is going to be hammering home this law and order message.

We're also going to be hearing a powerful argument for second chances from Alice Johnson. She has become the face of President Trump's efforts on criminal justice reform and that's usually something that is a bigger priority for Democrats. But Johnson spent two decades in prison despite being a first time

nonviolent offender. The President commuted her sentence after lobbying by Kim Kardashian. We expect her speech to be personal and emotional.

And the same goes for tonight's remarks by Carl and Marsha Mueller, who will argue the President has been tough on terrorism. You may remember their daughter, Kayla was killed by ISIS and the U.S. mission that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was named after her.

The Republicans are leaning on everyday Americans to highlight what the campaign says is Trump's record of accomplishments with the hope of moving voters on an emotional level -- Anderson.

COOPER: And we're getting new details on the President's speech tonight. I want to go straight to our White House correspondents Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins.

Kaitlan, give us some more on the scene on the South Lawn tonight.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it almost looks like something you would see if a pandemic wasn't happening in the country.

There's about 1,500 chairs out here tonight. You could already hear the music behind me. The program is getting started and they are urging people to take their seats.


COLLINS: But, Anderson, those seats are certainly not six feet apart. They're not even -- they are about six inches apart if you look at them, and we are told it is 1,500 chairs. They're expecting about 2,000 guests, so 500 or so will be standing.

And while of course, the South Lawn is a big place, there's a lot of room to stand, but you do see people if you look over my right shoulder, there's a lot of people crowding already up near the front. Of course, that's where the action is going to be.

And so of course, a big question going into this as one we've had with other events this week is whether or not everyone was tested. The White House would not say, but they did send us a statement from the campaign that said they worked with a medical company.

They say they're adhering to C.D.C. protocols and D.C. Department of Health protocols and that people have been on site from that company, the medical company they're working with to make sure they are adhering to that.

But we also spoke to the Chief of Staff before this, who said only that a number of people who had been tested -- would be tested beforehand.

He did not say how many and it's hard to see how they are going to test 1,500 people, given that we've already seen several prominent figures here, people like Senator Lindsey Graham, who I asked if he had been tested before he came in and Anderson, he said he said that he had not.

So that is something to keep in mind as you're looking at this. The White House is justifying it by saying there's a pandemic going on, we could have gone to a lot of other places.

But the President certainly wanted this big crowd here tonight. It's the biggest crowd he has addressed in months, and so you can see behind me that there is not the social distancing going on, that we expected.

And you're seeing people shake hands, hug, greet each other like it would be in normal times.

COOPER: It certainly looks like that. Kaitlan, thank you. And now to Jim Acosta. Jim, first of all, have you ever seen -- I mean, there were jokes during the first campaign that Donald Trump would put his name on the White House

There are obviously now large signs with his name on it. Has there been -- ever been a campaign event like this at the White House?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, Anderson. I mean this is a Trump rally on the South Lawn of the White House. There is no other way to describe it.

I have never personally witnessed anything like this in my eight years covering the White House in either the Obama administration or the Trump administration, but this is obviously how the President wants it.

It's almost as if he is trolling people who are concerned about testing and masks and the coronavirus and so on with this production tonight.

They have the seats packed together as closely as you can possibly get them and as for the speech, I will tell you, a senior Trump campaign adviser said the President will hit this law and order theme hard tonight. The adviser explained to me, quote: "This is how we win suburban moms back," an acknowledgement of Trump's shaky standing with women voters.

Top adviser, Stephen Miller is leading the writing team in drafting tonight's speech.

As for the situation in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Mr. Trump is likely to address the unrest in the streets of U.S. cities, but aides are tight lipped about whether Mr. Trump will mention the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Now, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told me earlier this evening, he did reach out to representatives for Blake's family earlier today to offer President Trump's sympathies.

Meadows said the President has seen the video of Blake being shot by police, something the President would not address when he was asked about this earlier today.

But getting back to the content of the President's speech, you know, in a lot of these addresses at conventions, Anderson, the President or nominee likes to pull at people's heartstrings.

Listening to Trump campaign advisers, it sounds like he wants to scare the hell out of everybody -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim, thanks very much. Up next, my one-on-one interview with Joe Biden firing back at the Republicans messages from the last several nights. We'll be right back.



COOPER: People gathering on the South Lawn of the White House for President Trump's big speech tonight accepting his party's nomination.

The final night of the Republican Convention begins just minutes from now.

President Trump is expected to hit Joe Biden hard, but tonight, the former Vice President has been pushing back in a one-on-one interview with him. I talked to him earlier today. Take a listen.


COOPER: Joining me now, former Vice President Joe Biden. Mr. Vice President, thanks for being with us.

Conservatives have been attacking you for taking three days to denounce violence erupting in these protests. What do you say to that?

JOE BIDEN (D), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, first of all, I denounced it a long time ago. I denounced it weeks ago, and I've made it clear from the beginning that there is no justification whatsoever for violence and looting.

As a matter of fact, it just flies in the face of the legitimate protests that are going on and it takes away from the whole rationale for what's happening here.

So I've condemned the violence from the very beginning. They were just flat wrong as usual.

COOPER: The Vice President echoed the President last night by telling Americans that they would not be safe in Joe Biden's America.

BIDEN: Well, you know, look, if you think about it, Donald Trump saying, you're not going to be safe and Joe Biden's America, all of the video being played is being played in Donald Trump's America.

You know, Kellyanne Conway came out and was very, very blunt about it today. I think I have a quote here. She said, "The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism, the more violence equals a better -- better, the choice for a very ..."

Excuse me, " ... better for a very clear choice."

These guys are rooting for violence. That's what this is all about.

To prove that you should be scared of Joe Biden, they're pointing to what's happening in Donald Trump's America. You know, I made it clear from the beginning that there's no place for violence or looting or burning.

And when I spoke with Jacob Blake's mother, Julia, you guys played her on the air. She said, "That's not who we are. That's not who our family is. That's not who Jacob is. Don't do it."

And so, you know, he continues to root for violence. It's the -- you know, the country will be substantially safer when he is no longer in office and, you know, I'm going to work to calm the tensions and root out systemic racism.

I'm going to lead.


COOPER: You think he's actually rooting for violence?

BIDEN: Absolutely.

COOPER: That he wants violence because it allows him to claim a law and order mantle?

BIDEN: Sure and because it takes his -- it takes everybody's eye off the ball. Want to talk about safety? Look at the biggest safety issue in the in the nation. COVID.

You know, just yesterday, we had 1,249 deaths. Over the seven-day period, we've averaged a thousand deaths a day. Now that is more than the five largest countries in Europe, a combined population we are -- combined population bigger than us, you know how many they've had? Seventy seven deaths today.

He has been incompetent in the way in which he's dealt with this. And not only that, you know, he talks about take it away, he is still in court trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, going to take hundred thousand -- a hundred million people with preexisting conditions and move them in a direction where they can't get coverage.

COOPER: The President has not talked about the shooting of Mr. Blake. He has talked about violence at protests in the wake of it. I'm wondering why you think that is that he hasn't actually addressed it.

There's obviously a lot we do not know about the circumstances around it, but the video obviously has been out there.

BIDEN: Well, look. I don't know enough to know whether that 17-year- old kid exactly what he did, but allegedly he's part of a militia coming out of the State of Illinois. Have you ever heard this President say one negative thing about white supremacists? Have you ever heard it?

That's the reason I got back in this race because what happened in Charlottesville, people coming out of the woods carrying torches, their veins bulging. Close your eyes and remember what you saw -- and a young woman gets killed, resisting the hate and violence.

And the President gets asked to comment and what does he say? He says they are very fine people on both sides. He wouldn't even condemn David Duke, for God's sake. The former Grand Kleagle.

This is a guy who is using division and hate. It is the only way he stays in office. That's what it's all about. Dividing -- an idea he doesn't -- sorry.

COOPER: Well, we heard last night at the R.N.C. from the McCloskeys, the couple who are facing charges for pointing guns at peaceful protesters. They were portrayed essentially as heroes. Is that how you see them?

BIDEN: No, I don't see them that way at all. And by the way, talk about middle class neighborhoods, they look like they were living in you know, a multi-million dollar mansion for God's sake. And the fact that they're pointing at protesters that weren't going after them, no evidence of that.

Look, this is -- we've got to calm this whole situation down. We've got to move in a different -- the American people aren't buying this.

You have over 50 or excuse me, 77 percent of American people saying there is systemic racism. We have a chance to change it without doing anything but helping people -- black, white, Asian, Hispanic -- it doesn't matter.

The country is ready. But the only way he can win, if he and Pence can win, I mean, you imagine I'm getting attacked on my religion by Donald Trump. When was the last time he darkened the doorway of a church? Come on.

COOPER: We've seen athletes just in the last several days stepping back from actually playing any games. The President just called the NBA a political organization, the White House and a Pence adviser aide dismissed the protest as silly.

Jared Kushner weighed in on their salaries and they can afford to take the night off. What do you make of what we're seeing in the NBA and the WNBA and Major League Baseball?

BIDEN: People -- what Trump knows but won't acknowledge is that a lot of these men and women have had brothers, sisters, husbands wives, who have been victimized just because of their color, just because of their color.

These aren't people who in fact are out there just trying to -- they don't need any more attention. They are sick and tired.

COOPER: Speaker Pelosi said today that you shouldn't debate Trump. Mr. Vice President, what do you think?


BIDEN: I understand Nancy's point of view. Some of the leading columnists in the country, you have mainstream leaders who have indicated I shouldn't debate, not to me, but in the press, I shouldn't debate unless there is a fact checker, et cetera.

Look, I'm used to dealing with bullies. I understand how they work and I'm going to go by the rules of the Debate Commission, play by the rules, and we're going to have a debate.

And I'm confident that the vast majority of the press will point out when they're just gross lies, I will mention it as well. And I'm happy to run on the record I had as a Senator and as a Vice President, as well as I'll be happy to challenge his position.

But I wouldn't expect much truth to come out of that on his podium.

COOPER: Mr. Vice President, appreciate your time. Thank you.

BIDEN: Appreciate your time. Thank you very much.


COOPER: That was earlier today. You're looking at some of those assembled at the White House, with former baseball player, Darryl Strawberry.

A number of people gathered as the Republican Convention gets back underway soon, building up to Ivanka Trump's introduction to her father. His big speech and a finale of fireworks.

The crowd gathering on the South Lawn. Stay with us.



BLITZER: We are looking at live pictures from the South Lawn of the White House tonight. It is the backdrop for the biggest speech of President Trump's reelection campaign so far.

As many as 2,000 people gathering to hear him accept his party's nomination without much of any social distancing that we can see or any mask requirement.

Jake, the President is clearly intent on putting on a big production tonight on this -- the final night of the Republican National Convention.

TAPPER: Yes, and you remember a few weeks ago when President Trump finally wore a mask, and so many people in the White House and in the health community breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, we were going to get a good example set by the President. Well, I've been talking to health officials across the country who are

just abjectly mortified by what they're seeing from the South Lawn, which looks like a potential super spreader event.

Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Health Institute telling me, quote: "This is deeply irresponsible. It goes against all that we know about keeping people safe. We should expect better from our national leaders."

The idea that 2,000 individuals with no mass testing, no social distancing, very few of them wearing masks coming together. Forget the Hatch Act violations, we're getting into a matter of life and death here. It's really alarming.

And I have to say, the idea of this happening while this pandemic is going on and the President and the White House are trying to convince us that it isn't is just otherworldly since the Republican Convention began on Monday.

Until 5:00 p.m. today, Eastern, 3,688 Americans have died of coronavirus. Just since the Republican Convention began, we have had more losses due to this virus than were lost due to 9/11 -- Dana.

BASH: Yes, absolutely. Jake. And, you know, look, we're looking at these pictures. We are getting ready to hear from a President who is going to make his case about why he deserves another four years in office.

And I have to say I was going back and looking at what candidate Donald Trump said at his convention speech four years ago. I mean, he said a lot, but one of the most memorable lines you remember, "I alone can fix it."

And guess what? Here we are in the middle of a pandemic. Now, to be fair, this is something that any human in the White House would have trouble with. But they certainly have not made it better, according to health officials, by the way they have handled or for the most part, mishandled much of the government's response or lack thereof.

And while I am looking at these pictures, we are told that remember, there was supposed to be a speaker, member of QAnon earlier this week who was cancelled because of some things that she posted.

Well, guess what? She might not have spoken. But Abby, she's there in the crowd.

PHILLIP: Wow. It's really incredible. And Dana, speaking of that 2016 conventions speech that you just mentioned, this whole thing is going to be like deja vu.

This entire night is going to be a re-litigation of those same themes from 2016.

The President in 2016 talked about protecting police from attacks, talked about fighting back against crime, saying that then Hillary Clinton as a candidate was not equipped to be President because she wouldn't be able to handle keeping America safe.

Now, four years later, we are getting those same messages from President Trump.

I don't think though that folks should be surprised by that. He came out of 2016 a winner. And in President Trump's mind, repeating the patterns of that race, going back to the basics in that way is a winning formula.

And that's what we're going to see tonight in a big, big speech from the President. It's going to be lengthy and I'll also be interested in seeing how he reacts to the crowd. He wanted this crowd so, so badly.

What does that do to his speech? Does it change it at all or will he stay on message?

BLITZER: Yes, he wanted a big crowd. He's got a big crowd on the South Lawn of the White House and when you say lengthy, we're told his speech later tonight will probably be around one hour that will cap the evening.


The program begins right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone once said that America is great, because it is good. And that if America ceases to be good, it will no longer be great. It is the goodness in Americans that informs the greatness of America.

The freedom to do what is right and good. For yourself, your family. To reap the blessings of hard work, to accomplish dreams, to live securely, to help others. Not by force of government but by goodness of heart, where rights are not granted by government proclaimed by identities, but are unalienable as members of the human race.

Today, America's greatness is challenged by those with extreme notions. defunding law enforcement as lawlessness abounds, hateful rhetoric, telling you what to wear, and when you can work, limiting free speech and freedom of worship. Old ideas of socialism repackaged in redefine words. Let us restore the values that made America great.

DONALD TRUMP (R) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We will make America strong again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Return to the higher standard.

TRUMP: We will make America proud again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A land of freedom of speech, of worship.

TRUMP: We will make America safe again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A land of security and prosperity. TRUMP: And we will make America great again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A land of greatness.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Washington D.C. Welcome to the 2020 Republican National Convention. Tonight celebrating America as the land of greatness.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, SAMARITAN PURSE & BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELICAL ASSN.: Let us pray. Heavenly Father, which art in heaven, we thank you for the great bounty. You have bestowed on this nation. And the many blessings we have received these past four years. We are forever grateful.

As we come tonight our country is facing trouble. Tens of thousands are in the path of a deadly storm. The pandemic has gripped millions of hearts with fear. We're divided. We have witnessed in justice, anger and despair have flowed into the streets. We need your help. We need to hear your voice at this crucial hour. We ask that you would unite our hearts to be one nation under God for you our only hope. We declare today our total dependence upon you and I need a repentance as a people. I thank you tonight for our President Donald J. Trump. We pray that you would give him wisdom from on high, clarity of vision and strength as he leads this nation forward, bless him. We pray for our First Lady Melania. Their son, Baron, and all of the family, protect them and keep them strong and safe. We thank you for Vice President Mike Pence for a steady hand and clear voice. We pray for our Second Lady Karen Pence and their family.

Father, we know that you can make this nation great once again. If we turn our eyes and our hearts to you, and follow your word and obedience. May Your will be done on this earth as it is in heaven. And we pray this in the mighty name of your son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

MADELYN & JACKSON KRATZER, MILITARY FAMILY CHILDREN: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.



JA'RON SMITH, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: Hello, my name is Ja'Ron Smith. 20 years ago, I moved to Washington D.C. to attend Howard University. I was at a crossroads just like America is today. I grew up on Strandhill Road in Cleveland. A blue collar street and a blue collar city. When immediate talks about forgotten places, or working class people who are overlooked and struggling hard, there's usually some stock photo of people who don't look like me. They never seem to show people like my mom, who worked two jobs as a gas station clerk and a mom. She showed me how to persevere. They never seem to show people like my dad, who pull plowed snow in winter, and paved streets in the summer. Who stood by me through thick and thin and taught me strong values every day.

They never seem to show people like me. At first, I didn't live the values my parents taught me. I want to start in spot on the varsity football team. But I only had a 1.9 GPA. But then I broke my leg. It took a broken leg for me to really get moving in life. I prioritize schoolwork, went to Howard and ended up working for the President of the United States.


Growing up, I'd never really known a Republican. I believed all the stereotypes. It took a meaning Republicans who shared my values to show me I was wrong. Donald Trump knows that in the work of revitalizing communities. America's strength is America's people. And I can tell you, he really cares and he takes action.

Every issue Important to black communities has been a priority for him. Prison reform, rebuilding broken families bringing jobs back to America. Jobs in Cleveland, jobs in Detroit, jobs in Milwaukee. President Trump knows that education is the great equalizer. That's why he secured record and permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities. And is fighting hard for school choice. In the wake of the murder of Ahmaud Arbrey, George Floyd and LeGend Taliferro, a moment of national racial consciousness. I have seen his true conscience. I just wish everyone can see the deep empathy, he shows to families whose loved ones were killed in senseless violence.

President Trump has made it clear that if you want safe communities, you must have police departments with the highest standards. I'll never forget Strandhill Road or the people of Cleveland. They're tough, smart, and tell it like it is. That's President Trump. For a New Yorker, he's got a lot of Cleveland heart. And I'm proud to say that he's my president. God bless America.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People assume that if I'm not a Democrat anymore, that I'm must be a Republican or I must be conservative. I still consider myself a liberal, but liberalism is changed. And I don't fit there anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a black kid growing up in Texas, we're taught that you had to support Democrats because Republican were for white people supporting the rich, and we definitely weren't rich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, our default setting is to be a Democrat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a Democrat. My parents are Democrats. I was a huge Obama supporter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the 2016 primary, I voted for Bernie Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I was a socialist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It wasn't until we got married and began expecting our own family that I began to kind of question whether or not the things that we were really promoting and supporting were in line with the way we were living. And that was when the shift kind of began for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was renting a room in this woman's apartment. She had three or four kids from three or four different fathers, who's my age? Most of them are incarcerated. I asked her, what do you do? She goes, I'm in the system. It feels like Democrats sort of get people hooked on this drug of free money where they basically say, you know, if you want your fix, you have to keep voting for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then this bold man comes down the escalator in New York City. I couldn't come out and say it right away. But deep down inside, I knew he was going to be the first Republican that I ever voted for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His entire campaign works for all Americans. That was a turning point for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the hardest things to do is to challenge your own beliefs. Going straight to the source is really how I was able to overcome some of those pitfalls. And so, I want people to hear my story and know that you can actually go from being a Democratic socialist to a Trump supporter, but you have to look deeper.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there's a political realignment that's taking place. I've always been very anti-war. And now Trump is by a mile though anti-war. And I've always been very much for free speech. Trump is now by a mile, the more pro free speech candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's at stake in November is pretty much everywhere you look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You either see prosperity and liberty and things that you want to preserve. Or if you're a Democrat, everywhere you look, you see something you want to tear down and remake in the image of some other country that's not as successful as we are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying to conserve our values, our constitution, or God-given rights, right to bear arms, freedom of speech. All the things as always made this country great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it took me a good long time to get here, but I hope that Trump wins and that we can continue with the progress that he's made and the policies that he's put into place. Let's get our economy back on track and let's be moving in the right direction.


REP. JEFF VAN DREW (R-NJ): My name is Jeff Van Drew, I speak to you as a member of the Republican Party. But it always wasn't that way. How I became a Republican says a lot about today's Democratic Party. I'm from South Jersey, where we work hard, look after our neighbors and care about our communities. Years ago, I was a local dentist and was asked by the Democrats to run for a town council seat. I had my doubts, and I explained that my views were middle of the road to conservative, but the local leaders said the Democratic Party was a big tent, and that they accepted people like me. I was elected to council as a Democrat. But as I won seats for county office, state legislature, and then Congress, I noticed things were changing. The Democratic Party had become less accepting of American tradition, less believing in American exceptionalism, less supportive of traditional faith and family. This was not the party that I knew.

In 2018, after being elected to Congress as a Democrat, I was already uncomfortable with a San Francisco liberal running the house. Which is why my first vote in Congress was cast against Nancy Pelosi for speaker. But imagine how I felt after seeing members of the squad quickly take control of the Democratic Party just weeks after being elected. The party had moved from liberal to radical. This new Democratic Party wasn't just for higher taxes. Now they were for open borders, against our police and against our God-given rights.

When the radical Democrats When after President Trump with impeachment, they made another mistake. Democratic leaders told me that I had to vote for impeachment, or my life would be made difficult. And I wouldn't be allowed to run again. Listen, I'm from South Jersey, and you better come at me with more than just loud words and empty threats. I voted no on impeachment. And it was an easy call. Soon after, I met with President Trump, and he made me feel more comfortable. And welcome in the Oval Office than Nancy Pelosi ever made me feel and her caucus. And a few days later, I officially change parties, and I became a Republican.

Let me tell you about Joe Biden. When the Democrats tried to order me around, I was ready, willing and able to say I've had enough with their radical socialist agenda. Do you really believe Joe Biden is ready, willing, and most of all able to do the same. As Joe says, come on man. Joe Biden is being told what to do by the radicals running my former party, the same radicals trying to install him as their puppet president.

When I'm at my local diner, I tell people that America is the best nation in the world, and that President Trump has helped make it that way. Republicans, Independents, and even Democrats. They all know that in President Trump's America, we have a strong military, strong support for our police, strong support for our veterans and strong support for our seniors. In President Trump's America, we have a strong supply chain, good schools, we're energy independent, and we protect our environment. There are a lot of Democrats who support our President and are disgusted for what they are old party, what my old party has become.


Here's my advice. Be true to who you are now. Not who the Democrats used to be. That's why I'm a proud Republican, and why I will be voting for Donald Trump. Thank you. And may God bless you. God bless our president, and God bless the United States of America.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MICHELLE, MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA: For me, the most important issue is jobs. We need to be able to pay our bills. I trust Donald Trump on jobs way more than I do Joe Biden. There's no doubt that Donald Trump has built the strongest economy we've ever seen. And I know that he will do it again.

Joe Biden doesn't have the energy and his ideas like raising taxes, it's going to hurt us. Electing Joe Biden as the president is a huge risk. And I don't want the future of my son in the hands of Joe Biden. I want my son to be able to go out and get a good education. I want the economy to be strong. I want the country that he lives in to be safe. And I want our borders to be secure. And I don't want that in Joe Biden's hands.

Donald Trump has built the strongest economy we've ever seen. He has made our country safe. And as a mom, those are things that I'm very proud of. And those are things that are very important to me when I'm looking for a president. I'm sticking with Donald Trump.


STACIA BRIGHTMON, MARINE CORPS VETERAN: My name is Stacy Brightman. I'm a single mother of two boys and I work in Houston, Texas for SMB Engineers and Constructors as a warehouse receiving clerk.

After serving my country in the Marine Corps, our various jobs, but I thought I needed a degree in order to have a career. I put myself into is significant debt to earn my Bachelor's Degree in Finance. Despite my degree in all of my efforts, at one point, my boys and I even found ourselves homeless. After being laid off yet again. I received an e- mail from the Texas Workforce Commission, about SMBs women in construction, earn while you learn apprenticeship program. I thought I'd give it a try. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I said to myself, hey, if they're willing to take a chance on me, I should be willing to take a chance on myself.

At the start of the program, I was making $16 an hour while I trained to become a pipe fitter helper. Looking back, it wasn't easy, but boy, was it worth it. I felt empowered that I was learning new skills and able to support my family again. Our target, got promoted and even got a few raises.

Later, I learned what President Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump were doing behind the scenes to make sure that people like me and you had a chance to rise up and succeed. President Trump started the National Council for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. Together with Ivanka, he wrote policies that made it easy for states and companies to give opportunities to hardworking Americans like me. The President and Ivanka also partnered with the Air Council (ph) to launch Helping to connect workers and workers with training and apprenticeship programs where they live. If you find yourself in a situation like mine, where you feel you have nowhere to turn, nothing to really fall back on, and you feel like no one believes in you. Go online to and see that President Trump believes in you. And more importantly, please believe in yourself. Keep trying, keep pushing. Times will get hard. Remember, just a few years ago, I was homeless, and you know what now I'm set to close on a brand new home at the end of the month. So my message to you is keep pushing. You can do it. Find a training program like the one I participated in. And like me, you have an opportunity to build a career in life that you're proud of. So with that being said, I'd like to talk to you about a different kind of training. This is the Trump campaigns national week volunteer training. If you're like me, you know how important it is to put Americans back to work. So get trained and get involved with the campaign. Go online to and sign up and keep the President fighting for you for another four years.

Thank you and God bless.

BLITZER: President Trump's speech is still ahead. Our Republican Convention coverage continues right after a quick break.



BLITZER: We're back with our coverage of the Republican National Convention. Watching the scene on the South Lawn of the White House, looking at live pictures coming in right now. That's where President Trump delivers his acceptance speech tonight.

Dana, four years ago, there was so much tumult about what President Trump was doing to the Republican Party. Now the party has largely changed to fit him.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that is something really to sort of keep in mind at this moment. It's the last night of the Republicans convention, the big speech for President Trump. And it was so incredibly different four years ago, a lot of people even though they wanted Donald Trump to be president who were on the floor of that more traditional convention. They didn't necessarily know if that was going to happen and that were very worried about the fate of the Republican Party.

And now there's no question the Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump and has changed dramatically even the video that they just played. One of the people in there said that there was a realignment of political parties and that is why he is moving towards Donald Trump. And just talk about -- I've mentioned QAnon earlier, it is the Georgia Republican candidate for Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene who has said that she supports a lot of those conspiracy theories. She is in the crowd there at the White House. Wolf.

BLITZER: Very quickly, we're about to hear from the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Dana, what do you expect?

BASH: Well, we expect him, of course, to talk about what the Senate majority of the Republicans in charge have done, how important it is, from his perspective to keep that the majority in the Senate is very, very, very much on the line. We're focused, understandably, on the presidency. But it is very possible that it could turn over to the Democrats, and that's what the majority leader is going to say that he's trying to prevent.

BLITZER: Well, let's go back to the Republican Convention. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is about to speak.