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The Lincoln Project, a conservative initiative that seeks to prevent Donald Trump's re-election in the November election. Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Project.
The Lincoln Project, a conservative initiative that seeks to prevent Donald Trump's re-election in the November election. Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Project.

The Lincoln Project Leaks RNC Speeches

The group published the speeches of the second night of the RNC on social media.

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An array of different speakers were set to make an appearance on the second night of the Republican National Convention. 

Among them were two of president Donald Trump’s children, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Larry Kudlow and for the first time, a sitting Secretary of State. 

All had their speeches leaked on Twitter either before or while they were delivering them. 

The stunt was pulled by The Lincoln Project, a political action committee formed in December by anti-Trump Republicans in an effort to prevent the current occupant of the White House from winning reelection. 

The group, which endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden in April, has produced several online ads and a podcast to persuade more Republicans to vote for the former vice president and also against Senators the super PAC views as enablers of President Trump. 

Releasing the speeches of five RNC speakers was only their latest attempt to irritate the Trump campaign and show a general weakness in their reelection strategy. 

Kudlow, Director of the U.S. National Economic Council, and Senator Paul were the first victims of the night. 

The address Kudlow delivered did not read the same as the one leaked by The Lincoln Project, but both kept the theme of promoting Trump’s record on the economy. 

“The economy was rebuilt in three years, unemployment fell to the lowest rate of 3.5%. Blue collars, African-American, Hispanics, women, all groups benefited enormously. Everyone was better off. A rising tide lifted all boats. Then came a once in 100 year pandemic,” he said. 

Kudlow did not acknowledge that there have been five years since 1929, in which the U.S. has had a lower unemployment rate than 3.5%. 

When Barack Obama took office, he dealt with the effects of the 2008 Financial Crisis, but under every year of his presidency, he managed to bring down the unemployment rate. 

Senator Paul talked about how although he has policy disagreements with President Trump, he supports his commitment to ending U.S. conflict in the Middle East and believes Biden will engage in more wars. 

“Compare president Trump with the disastrous record of Joe Biden who consistently called for more war. Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War, which president Trump has long called the worst geopolitical mistake of our generation. I fear Biden will choose again,” he said. 

The Senator from Kentucky conveniently left out the issue of Venezuela. 

Both candidates support opposition leader Juan Guaido and stronger sanctions but Biden is in favor of granting Temporary Protective Status to Venezuelan while the Republican-led Senate has yet to vote on the bipartisan Venezuela TPS Act of 2019.  

Trump has also not ruled out military intervention in the South American country saying “all options are on the table.” 

He also at one point had both John Bolton and Elliot Abrams in his administration, an architect of the Iraq War and a man convicted for his involvement in the Iran-Contra Scandal. 

Abrams is currently the U.S. Special Representative for both Iran and Venezuela. 

Family matters

It was then Tiffany Trump’s turn to make the case for her father by starting her speech by trying to relate to young people. 

“As a recent college graduate, I can relate to so many of you who might be looking for a job. My father built a thriving economy once, and believe me, he will do it again,” she said. 

No matter how grave the effects of the pandemic become, many will agree that a woman born to a billionaire businessman and television personality who became the president of the United States will not be on the job market for too long.  

“We believe in freedom of thought and expression. Think what you want, seek out the truth, learn from those with different opinions,” she added. 

When telling voters to “seek out the truth” and that her father believes in free speech she is hopefully aware that The Washington Post has kept a fact checking database which reports that the president has lied to the American people over 20,000 times since the start of his presidency. 

Eric Trump spent much of his speech attacking the former vice president for policy positions he does not hold. 

He claimed that Biden "pledged to defund the police and take away our cherished Second Amendment."

The Democratic nominee is against defunding law enforcement, but he did tell liberal activist Andy Barkan he supports redirecting some funds to mental health counseling and social services. 

On guns, Biden outlines on his website that he wants to see military-grade off the streets and wants background checks to be required for the sale of every gun, but he never says he will deny Americans the right to own a firearm. 

Hatch Act violation?

Besides having his speech leaked, Secretary Pompeo was also accused by The Lincoln Project and various political pundits of violating the Hatch Act. 

The Hatch Act of 1939 sought to limit the involvement of federal employees in political activities while they are on duty. 

The Secretary delivered his speech from Jerusalem and he was there on a diplomatic mission to talk with the Israeli prime minister so the country would limit its Chinese investments

The American people’s tax dollars were intended for the country’s top diplomat to further U.S. foreign policy objectives, not for him to be used as part of Trump’s reelection campaign.

The vice chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Joaquin Castro has called for an investigation into the Pompeo’s RNC speech as it broke a longstanding tradition of sitting Secretaries of State not engaging in partisan activities

It also went against a guidance that the Secretary issued in July, in which he told State Department employees to not engage “any partisan political activity.” 

Similar allegations are being levied against the president for issuing a pardon and holding a naturalization ceremony at the convention, two events that are not supposed to be politicized. 

None of the speakers have reacted to The Lincoln Project releasing their speeches, most likely to impede them from receiving more name recognition as they have done well with fundraising this year. 

Lincoln Project funding, leadership

Between April and June, The Lincoln Project raised $16.8 million according to the Federal Election Commission. Forty-five percent of their fundraising came from small dollar donors contributing $200 or less. 

One of the group’s founders, George Conway, announced he will be withdrawing from his position at the super PAC. 

His wife, Kellyanne Conway, also said that she would be stepping down from her role as Senior Counselor to the President. 

The couple, who were both working for different electoral objectives, cited a need to focus on their family as their reason for leaving their current jobs. 

The Lincoln Project may have lost one of its founders, but the former RNC chair Michael Steele joined the group earlier this week. 

Steele was the first African-American chair of the RNC, serving from 2009 to 2011, as well the first African-American to win statewide office in Maryland when he was the state’s Lieutenant Governor from 2003 to 2007. 

The year of the Biden Republican? 

President Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said that 2020 “will be the year of Biden Republican” and the Democrats have embraced that sentiment. 

The Democratic National Convention had former Republican governors John Kasich of Ohio and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey as well as Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Colin Powell speak at their event. 

Never Trumpers Kasich and Powell got more speaking time than Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the face of the future of the progessive movement in America. 

On Monday, the first day of the RNC, former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake headed a list of over a dozen former Republican members of Congress who announced they were endorsing Biden. 

Many will ask how Flake, a lifelong member of the GOP, endorse Biden for president? 

Republicans who are supporting Biden in 2020 might think that Trump will only taint the image of the party if he stays in office, while a Biden presidency could allow them time to rebrand and retake the White House in 2024. 

“I don’t think there is anything I’m gaining politically by doing this, I’m not in office right now. I’m doing this because I think it's the right thing to do for the country, and frankly the right thing to do for the party in the long,” said Flake when asked if he was backing Biden for political gain. 

This could simply be an attempt by these figures to save their political careers because disassociating themselves from Trump means that they are, in theory, also divorced from his failures like the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, or his lack of a policy-driven response to the outcry from activists who want criminal justice reform. 

Members of the GOP did the same after President Richard Nixon was caught in the Watergate Scandal and after President Bush started senseless wars in the Middle East and drove the country into an economic crisis. 

The efforts from groups like The Lincoln Project and the DNC may not be drawing in as many Republican voters as they would have hoped. 

A recent CBS poll shows that only 5% of registered Republican voters would vote for Biden. 

That is less than the 7% support the opposition party showed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and less than either of Obama’s general election campaigns according to exit polls. 

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