IT’S THURSDAY, and President DONALD TRUMP will close the Republican convention this evening from the White House. And, as the GOP seeks to rally around TRUMP 68 DAYS before Election Day, here’s what the world looks like:
— MORE THAN 100 PROMINENT ALUMNI of the last three Republican nominees — GEORGE W. BUSH, JOHN MCCAIN and MITT ROMNEY — are endorsing JOE BIDEN. (More on that below)
— A GROUP OF IMMIGRANTS who were naturalized by TRUMP during the convention now says they had no idea they were being used as political props. WSJ’s Tarini Parti and Mike Bender
— MAJOR LEAGUE SPORTS have come to a screeching halt after a Black man was shot several times and grievously injured by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis. The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers — two of the best teams and contenders for the NBA championship — voted to boycott the rest of the season. WNBA and baseball teams sat games out, as well.
— A MASSIVE STORM has made landfall on the Louisiana coast, threatening major damage to the Gulf region of the United States. WAPO: “Hurricane Laura slammed ashore in southwestern coastal Louisiana early Thursday with a ferocity that this region has never previously endured. The storm made landfall at 1 a.m. near Cameron, La. about 35 miles east of the Texas border.”
N.Y. POST COVER: “WAR ZONE WISCONSIN: Riots escalate after shooting of Jacob Blake … 17yo vigilante charged with killing two”
NATASHA KORECKI in Kenosha, Wis.: “‘It’s playing into Trump’s hands’: Dems fear swing state damage from Kenosha unrest”: “Downtown buildings set ablaze by arsonists were still smoldering from the night before when Kirk Ingram started to paint an angel on his boarded-up store front. Ingram, a Democrat who runs a massage therapy business, said the war-zone images of his city on TV — armed people running through the streets, burned cars and broken windows — were bolstering President Donald Trump’s get-tough message. Maybe a few uplifting murals could start to tell a different story about Kenosha, Ingram said Wednesday.
“Trump has attempted to frame the violent unrest in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting as fallout from inept leadership and the inability of Democrats to take control of their cities. On Wednesday, he announced he would send in the National Guard, while criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for not doing so, even though the Democrat had deployed guard troops on Monday and increased them on subsequent days.
“As this battleground state grapples with social unrest, some Democrats fear that the looting and rioting and clashes are feeding Trump’s argument that this is what life would be like under the so-called radical left. The worry is that especially among suburban swing voters, the more upheaval and violence they witness, the more their sympathy for peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters will wane.”
— AP: “17-year-old arrested after 2 killed during unrest in Kenosha,” by Stephen Groves and Scott Bauer in Kenosha
NYT … JEREMY PETERS, ANNIE KARNI and NICK CORASANITI: “How Trump’s Convention Has Become a Crucial Play for the Suburbs”: “Trump advisers said on Wednesday that they did not intend to change people’s minds about the president. Voter opinions about him have been remarkably impervious to the good and bad news about him, fluctuating little since he took office. Rather, the aides said, they were seeking to remind suburban voters of policies Mr. Trump has supported — like granting citizenship for legal immigrants and reducing harsh criminal statutes — that will give them something to hang onto in the voting booth in November.”
RYAN LIZZA: “Pence goes full MAGA”
HAPPENING THIS A.M. — JARED KUSHNER is joining us at 9 A.M. for our last “Plug in with Playbook” event of the GOP convention. Watch
— NEW … BUSH 43 ALUMNI FOR BIDEN is releasing a letter this morning detailing why they are supporting BIDEN for president. “In order to emerge strong and ready to tackle the challenges before us, we must act. We must step up, get out of our comfort zone, and vote for Joe Biden. It is time for us to have initiative in our communities and networks to stand up for character, integrity, decency, and leadership,” the letter reads. Notable signers include: former Commerce Secretary CARLOS GUTIERREZ, Bush domestic policy adviser SALLY CANFIELD, former Ambassador JAMES K. GLASSMAN and former U.S. Treasurer ROSARIO MARIN. The letter
— “Romney 2012 staffers unite behind effort to elect Joe Biden,” by Max Cohen: “More than 30 former staffers from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign are signing onto an effort to elect Joe Biden — the same man they worked to defeat during the 2012 campaign.
“The latest initiative launched by Republicans eager to unseat their party’s presidential nominee comes as Romney is increasingly viewed with scorn by President Donald Trump’s fervent base. In an open letter obtained by POLITICO, the group, which dubs itself ‘Romney Alumni for Biden,’ says Trump’s rhetoric and actions are antithetical to the Republican Party they believe in.”
— NYT’S JONATHAN MARTIN: “Over 100 Ex-Staff Members for John McCain Endorse Joe Biden”: “[Mark] Salter, who led the effort to gather signatures along with the former McCain aides Christian Ferry, Niki Christoff and Joe Donoghue, said they had confined their outreach to staff members, and did not seek out McCain family members.” The letter, with all the signatories
ALSO, THIS IS BIG … SCOOP via ALEX ISENSTADT: “Turmoil consumes Chamber of Commerce as it backs Democrats”: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is poised to endorse nearly two dozen freshmen House Democrats for reelection, triggering a revolt within the right-leaning organization and drawing fierce pushback from the group’s powerful GOP donors.
“‘The decision represents a sharp departure for the traditionally conservative Chamber, which has spent over $100 million backing Republican candidates over the past decade, and it threatens to further complicate the party’s prospects in the November election while driving a split in the business community.
“Chamber leaders — including president Suzanne Clark, chief executive officer Tom Donahue, and executive vice president Neil Bradley — have been pushing the proposal ahead of a Thursday committee vote to finalize a slate of 2020 endorsements. But the group’s donors and members are up in arms, with some threatening to pull funding and others openly venting their frustration. Some are raising the prospect that Chamber board members will quit in the weeks to come.
“There is particular concern the Democrats in question do not have the pro-business record an endorsement would convey. State Chamber of Oklahoma President Chad Warmington penned a letter Tuesday to national Chamber leaders fervently opposing the proposal to back Rep. Kendra Horn, perhaps the most vulnerable House Democrat in the country.”
— WHAT THIS MEANS: In endorsing Democrats, the Chamber seems to be seeking relevance in a Washington that’s shifted away from them. These Democrats they’re endorsing have views that are simply incompatible with where the Chamber has been for years. But many of them will be elected officials next Congress — and the Chamber could, theoretically, take a bit of credit for that and find itself some new allies on the left.
WHAT KEVIN MCLAUGHLIN IS READING … WSJ ED BOARD: “The More Important Election: Senate control will decide if change in 2021 is centrist or radical.”
DRAMA UNDER THE DOME … ROUGHLY 100 LANDMARKS, including the KENNEDY CENTER, the WHITE HOUSE and SMITHSONIANS on the National Mall, were lit in purple and gold Wednesday night as part of the “Forward into Light” campaign organized by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
ONE BUILDING NOT PARTICIPATING: The U.S. CAPITOL. Organizers had approached Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL to have the Capitol complex participate in the effort. Pelosi immediately signaled her support. A Pelosi spokesman said “the speaker is deeply disappointed the U.S. Capitol building is not participating in this historic event.” A McConnell spokesman declined to discuss senior staff-level discussions.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN a historic decision to participate. The Capitol has not in recent memory been specially lit for any cause despite many asking, and McConnell was concerned about setting a new precedent. McConnell asked the speaker to take that into consideration and left the door open for continued discussion, we’re told.
ON PENCE … WAPO’S ROBIN GIVHAN: “Mike Pence had a few things to say at the convention: Trump is great. Trump is great. And Trump is great”: “There they were. A team as always: Vice President Pence and his wife, Karen. On the third night of the Republican National Convention, the couple walked out to the assembled audience at Fort McHenry in Baltimore holding hands. She took a seat and he stood framed by a red brick arch that was filled with American flags.
“The vice president was spit-shined for the occasion. His dark suit fit well enough. His white shirt was crisp. His glossy red tie matched the stripes in the flags behind him, and his close-cropped white hair had the immovable perfection of an action figure’s.
“Pence is a mediocre speaker. He mostly spends his time uttering the name of President Donald J. Trump in sentence after sentence. Diagram one of them and it’s likely: Noun, verb, adjective. Or more precisely: Trump. Is. Great. He likes staccato — a lazy form of emphasis.”
HAPPENING TONIGHT — “Trump’s big night: Expect talk of GOP progress, Dem anarchy,” by AP’s Jonathan Lemire and Kevin Freking: “Though he will promise national greatness, there was little expectation he would deliver a message designed to unify the divided electorate. In 2016, his message was ‘I alone can fix it.’ This time, while trailing in the polls, he will offer himself as the last remaining defense against radical forces threatening the American way of life.
“Aides have closely guarded details of the address, which was being revised the night before Trump was to speak from the White House South Lawn. While Trump has centered his recent stump speech on anarchists that he depicts overrunning city streets, aides signaled that Thursday’s speech will not be as dark as his infamous ‘American carnage’ inaugural address.
“Against a backdrop of patriotism, Trump will describe America as a work in progress, one that is not perfect but has achieved much. It’s an argument meant to offer a contrast with Democrats whom the president has described as not loving their country. In a similar vein, aides said, Trump would speak to progress made on combating the coronavirus, which has been treated as something of an afterthought during much of the convention although it is still killing 1,000 Americans a day.” AP
TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president will depart the White House en route to the Trump International Hotel at 11:50 a.m. He will arrive at 11:55 a.m. and participate in a roundtable with supporters. The president will depart at 1 p.m. and return to the White House. Trump will deliver his acceptance speech for the GOP convention at 10:30 p.m.
MICHAEL KRUSE: “How Trump Mastered the Art of Telling History His Way”: “[T]he rewriting (or even pre-writing) of his past is a lifelong Trump trademark. He is who he is, is where he is, is seen the way he’s seen by so many, because of it. He’s self-made! (He’s not.) He’s a businessman with a Midas touch! (He’s not.) He’s an outsider! (He was an insider — thanks to his father’s political connections — the day he was born.) ‘He is not who he says he is,’ former Trump casino executive Jack O’Donnell told me Wednesday. ‘He is,’ Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said, ‘a walking lie.’
“Everybody does some version of this, of shading and shaping their personal stories, to present to others more flattering pictures, and politicians, it’s fair to say, maybe do it even a little bit more—so some of this is to be expected in any campaign and at any convention. But nobody, in the estimation of political strategists and historians, has ever done it with the bravado of Trump.
“What he understands, they say, is that most people don’t have the bandwidth to keep track of the nonstop glut of stacked-up facts that form any messy backstory—and who, anyway, really likes a constant, correcting scold? Trump’s stamina selling these tales laced with falsehoods wins out, almost always, over the work of the diligent nags trying to check him.”
VALLEY TALK — “TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer Quits as Trump Pushes Chinese App to Sell U.S. Business,” by WSJ’s Lisa Lin: “TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer said he is leaving the social-media platform after being on the job for about three months, as the company comes under increasing pressure from the White House over its ties to China.
“In a letter to staff, Mr. Mayer said the political environment had sharply changed in recent weeks and the role of CEO at the hugely popular short-video app would be altered significantly after the expected sale of TikTok’s U.S. business.”
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
TRANSITION — Natalie Edelstein is taking leave from Rep. Eric Swalwell’s (D-Calif.) office, where she’s deputy comms director, to join Jill Schupp’s campaign for Congress in Missouri as comms director.
ENGAGED — Tyler Levins, a research assistant for the Senate Commerce Committee, proposed to Taylor Hunt-Sowders, an intern for DOJ’s IG, at the Gulfport Visitor Center in Gulfport, Miss., on Aug. 20. They met in high school in Mississippi. Pic
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Jedd Rosche, senior Congress editor at CNN. What he’s been reading: “I finally got around to reading Patrick Radden Keefe’s ‘Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland’ in July. I couldn’t put it down, because, while it was extremely informative about recent history, it reads like a thriller from start to finish.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Roger Stone is 68 … Gary Cohn is 6-0 … New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is 62 … Ashley Moir, booker and panel producer for Fox News’ “Special Report” … Rachel Racusen … Steve Clemons, editor-at-large at The Hill (h/t Ben Chang) … Jennifer Senior is 51 … POLITICO’s Darius Dixon and Megan Cassella … Lydia Jabin … Blake Sobczak, a deputy editor at E&E News … Morris Jones … Christopher LaPrade, senior manager of global relations at the American Chemical Society … Sarah Gamard … Josh Paciorek, comms director for Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) … Peter Sterne … Brandt McCool, CTO at New Blue Interactive … Francesca McCrary … Jason Houser … Ty Matsdorf … Leah Daughtry … Benjamin Haas is 34 (h/t Morgan Dwyer) … Jeannette O’Connor … Vanessa Wruble is 46 … Kelsey Berg … Biruk Bekele …
… Pete Boyle, VP of public affairs at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities … FDD’s Rich Goldberg is 37 … Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz … Mac Abrams … Josh Mankiewicz, correspondent for NBC’s “Dateline,” is 65 … former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) is 77 … former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) is 69 … Xavier Pugliese … Linda McKay … Marilyn Renner … Danielle Weisberg, co-CEO and co-founder of theSkimm … Jenn Sharkey … Edelman’s Polly Mingledorff … Christopher S. Brown … August Skamenca … Christine O’Donnell is 51 … Naomi LaChance … Katrina Salhioui … Melissa Sellers … Jim Osman … Sarah Schenning … Peter Rothfeld … Moutray McLaren … Jon Kinney is 7-0 … Donald St. Clair … Nicole Charalambous … Bill Hamilton … Mindy Tucker Fletcher … Ruth Harkin