Posted by Kristin McCarthy on July 20, 2016 in Blog

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We were back at it yesterday on the busy streets of downtown Cleveland. Following a controversy-filled first day, we focused on elevating the issues that we care about most with some much needed laughter, and we kept our eyes on the policy from the Convention podium. Here's what we think was of note on Day 2! 

Arab Americans at the Republican Convention

  • We hosted our policy forum in the form of a comedy show. Designed to address the bigotry rampant in the current presidential election cycle, we held a comedy show in the historic Hanna Theater in Playhouse Square entitled, “Banned: Dangerously Funny Arab American and American Muslim at the RNC.”  We had a great crowd from the local community and Republican delegates join us to get to know some seriously (and dangerously) funny Arab American comedians: Dean ObeidallahMaysoon Zayid, and Ramy Youssef! Check out our Facebook album of the show. 

In the Convention Hall

It's Day 2 and Donald Trump has officially been voted the nominee of the Republican Party. Getting through allegations of deliberately miscounting delegate votes from Alaska, the focus was on the Trump family when Donald Trump Jr. delivered the delegates that put his father over the top and made him the official RNC nominee for president.

Day 2's theme was "Make America Work Again," but many have noted a dearth of economic policy throughout last night's speeches. But that isn't all that pundits have noted as lacking.  It continues to be true that there are many, many more mentions of Hillary Clinton than there are about the GOP nominee, Donald Trump. For instance, Paul Ryan mentioned Trump just once, and Governor Chris Christie spent the huge majority of his speech convicting the former Secretary for crimes she has allegedly committed around the world, from harboring Boko Haram, to backing Assad, to her "stupid" reset button with Russia. There is a decidedly prominent focus on tearing Clinton down at the expense of building Donald Trump up.

Against the grain, however, the best-received speakers of the night by far were Donald Trump's children - Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump - who spoke warmly of their father with personal anecdotes and pride.

Republican Party leaders, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, were also Day 2 prime-time speakers who spent hardly any time selling Donald Trump to the delegates and at-home viewers. Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), stressed the need for party unity and exactly what is at stake this election cycle. To his credit, Ryan delivered a policy vision for how a Republican president would differentiate himself from President Obama's legacy, and a compelling moment on the need to address poverty with jobs and dignity. Senator Mitch McConnell made an important case for supporting Republican Senate candidates in his bid to keep control of the Senate. But McConnell strayed far from the night’s economic theme, and also spent most of his time deriding President Obama and Hillary Clinton's record on a huge range of issues.

Religion played a big role in Day 2. Many are shocked by Dr. Ben Carson's off-script comments which insidiously linked Hillary Clinton to Lucifer though author Saul Alinsky. But that wasn't the only faith-based sour note of the night. An American Muslim from Baltimore, Sajid Tarar, was brought to the stage to deliver the nightly benediction. Having already been the subject of media scrutiny, Tarar was welcomed by a few chants of "No Islam" from the floor. It wasn't only a few delegates who weren't happy with Tarar's presence on the stage, we noted immediate astonishment from people in the American Muslim faith community on Twitter.

Outside the Convention

Probably the most anticipated side-event of this week's circus for us was an event headlined by notorious Islamophobes Pamela Gellar, Ann Coulter and Geert Wilders that was billed as a "Gays for Trump" event. Given the content of the speeches, the event was clearly more anti-Muslim than pro-LGBTQ. To a packed room, Pamela Gellar engaged in her usual bigoted, misinformed stump speech and a hodge-podge crew of fear-mongerers were her willing accomplices. This is the very reason why AAI decided to host an event at the RNC despite our significant concerns about the candidate, we are here on the ground to push back against hate.

Check back in tomorrow for our Day 3 Dispatch! And help us get ready for Philly by sharing information about our events! Get info here: http://www.aaiusa.org/2016_convention_events




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