By TERRANCE SMITH, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast on Thursday that speakers at the Republican National Convention can and should mention Jacob Blake’s name, a man who was shot by police seven times in Wisconsin, as Blake’s name was only briefly mentioned in the prayer on Tuesday night.
“Of course we can make mention of Jacob Blake’s name and the president has reached out to the family,” McDaniel told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein ahead of the last night of the RNC. “I hope that they do tonight. I think a lot of it has been pre-taped … because of the virtual nature of many of the speeches, that wasn’t in the news at the time that some of those speeches were taped. I’m saying right now as party chair we want to see this investigated; we want to see this seen through.”
Many speakers at the convention so far, including Vice President Mike Pence mentioned the protests across the country, and specifically in Kenosha where Blake was shot, that have been caused by the shootings by police on unarmed black people.
Pence said, “So let me be clear, the violence must stop. Whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down.”
At President Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016, Trump said he had a similar message about violence across the country and that it would stop when he took office in 2017.
However Thursday, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, who announced earlier this week that she will be leaving the White House at the end of August, said, “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence rains, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety, and law and order.”
On how the Republican Party can reconcile those opposing messages, McDaniel questioned where the Democratic leadership is during these moments.
“I think more of the point is that you’re seeing Democrat-run cities, with Democrat mayors and Democrat governors are not cracking down on violence, and I think it’s deeply concerning. I think the American people recognize the president has vocally said, I will send you resources.”
McDaniel said what happened to George Floyd — who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis — was horrific and that “we need to figure out what just happened to Jacob Blake” but said what is happening to the livelihood in those communities is not OK and that it’s time for Democratic leaders to step in.
“Where are the Democrats’ voices in this issue? I think that’s the distinction. This isn’t good. I would love for it to stop. This isn’t political. Where are the Democrats right now?” McDaniel continued, “So it is alarming to see Democrat leaders systematically stepping down and allowing their cities, their police departments and their communities to be burned. Time for them to step in.”
Upwards of 1,500 people are expected to attend Trump’s acceptance speech at the White House, according to sources, and following Pence’s speech at Fort McHenry on Wednesday, both the Trumps and Pences stepped off the stage to greet the spectators who crowded the area — many not wearing masks — despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ll be honest, I’m not completely up to speed on all the precautions that were taken at Fort McHenry,” McDaniel said. “I know that today I just got tested. I’ll be at the White House tonight. I was tested the night that we went into the Rose Garden.”
Moving forward after the convention, McDaniel said that anyone seeing Trump and Pence campaigning should be wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
As far as voting in the fall McDaniel said, “Dr. (Anthony) Fauci said there’s no reason why voting in person to create an uptick. So I think the Democrats aren’t following the science when they keep saying we have to shut everything down.”
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