The Stew Reporting on government and politics

Trump’s second act

Politics | The president’s reelection campaign crystalizes its main talking points
by Harvest Prude
Posted 8/27/20, 03:21 pm

For the first time since 1856, the Republican Party chose not to announce a new platform ahead of a presidential election. The decision to keep the 2016 one signals the Trump campaign’s solidified control over the party’s direction.

Over the weekend, the campaign published a list that outlines President Donald Trump’s intended second-term agenda, starting with reviving the once-thriving economy. The list largely is in line with the president’s goals the first time around. But this time, it has his first-term track record behind it.

“Trump actually seems to take those commitments seriously, and he likes to say, ‘I did what I said I was going to do,’” Wilfred McClay, the Blankenship chair in the history of liberty at the University of Oklahoma, pointed out.

Perhaps most notable, however, are the issues the list does not include.

“The statement says nothing about issues that are of great importance to many conservatives such as abortion, LGBTQ issues, religious freedom, gun rights, and judicial appointments,” noted Amy Black, a political science professor at Wheaton College.

Many supporters see judicial picks as Trump’s most lasting first-term accomplishment. He has appointed one-fourth of all active federal judges and the most appeals court judges at this point of a presidency since Jimmy Carter.

“Talking abt the Supreme Court got Pres Trump elected & it needs 2b center stage again this election,” tweeted Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2015 to 2019.

Thomas Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, said the list should have reiterated a firm commitment to religious freedom since people of faith are “under outright assault around the world.”

McClay agreed, given the issue’s prominent role in the president’s first term: “[Trump], who is nobody’s idea of an exemplary Christian gentleman, has turned out to be such a fierce defender of religious liberty and the increasingly marginalized sense that many Christians have in this culture. So I’m surprised they didn’t capitalize on this.”

But McClay said he doubts many outside-the-Beltway voters will pay much attention to the platform. He noted that those who do take notice won’t be able to write off the president’s commitments the way some did in 2016: “No one can doubt he really means it and that he’s really willing to put on the pressure.”

There are a few surprises on Trump’s list. Some of the policies are pie-in-the-sky aspirations, such as passing congressional term limits. It included a goal to “partner with other nations to clean up our planet’s oceans.” Other items are new but very much in line with the president’s previous priorities, like launching the Space Force.

But tackling the economic issues wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated lockdowns tops the list. Trump said he wants to create 10 million jobs in 10 months, cut taxes, and expand opportunity zones. The campaign pledges to take on COVID-19 and “return to normal in 2021.”

The president’s list also focuses on strategies to counter the Chinese government, such as moving manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Under healthcare, the campaign pledges to cover all preexisting conditions, though it has dropped any mention of repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Other priorities include ending illegal immigration, supporting the police, and bringing American troops back home.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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  • Janet B
    Posted: Thu, 08/27/2020 06:04 pm

    The President doesn't need to tell me of his stances on abortion, LGBTQ issues, religious freedom, gun rights, and judicial appointments.  He told me last time, and he stood by his promises.  It is good to see some other commitments on his list.  I know, based on the past four years, that no matter how far from an "exemplary Christian gentleman" he may, he is a man of his word.  I'll take that.

  • joansredpen
    Posted: Thu, 08/27/2020 06:20 pm

    No need for a list. The line-up of speakers for the virtual RNC leaves no question about where Trump stands on abortion, religious freedom and other issues. 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Fri, 08/28/2020 07:18 am

    "For the first time since 1856, the Republican Party chose not to announce a new platform ahead of a presidential election. The decision to keep the 2016 one signals the Trump campaign’s solidified control over the party’s direction."

    You didn't do your homework Harvest and it reveals your bias against Trump. I participated in the Texas Republican Convention enough to see the chaos due to the COVID-19.  Getting a party platform together while working on zoom was no easy task. I am sure that after many other states had issues with their conventions that at the National Republican Convention they decided to forego the challenge of coming up with a new platform and proceed with last elections National Convention due to the COVID-19 concern.  It was out of concern for people's health that the National Convention did not pursue a new platform. 

  • EB
    Posted: Fri, 08/28/2020 09:10 am

    There is no acceptable excuse for the lack of a clearly stated platform.  I'm a senior citizen and I find getting work done via internet video conferencing is incredibly easy, so I presume that if RNC people wanted to even just restate that they are re-upping for use of the 2016 platform, then they could have easily done that.  COVID-19 is no excuse for smart people failing to do that.  One has to wonder if there are conflicts between the RNC and the Trump campaign team, and if so, then what that means for the future.  It should be highlighted that the Trump campaign "agenda for a second term" is not the same as something that comes from the RNC.  The list seems incredibly ill-conceived:  nothing about balancing the national budget, nothing about sustainable energy or energy independence, nothing about the Supreme Court and justice system, nothing about racial injustice, corruption or moral issues, nothing about reforming our long broken immigration system, and nothing about supporting persecuted peoples in other countries — all of which are major concerns that I personally have. Quite surprisingly there is no mention of support for the second amendment.  Ironically there is not a category of "Economy" but rather the list has several categories which have to do with certain aspects of the economy.  The category called "End Our reliance on China" says nothing about China (reportedly) holding a significant portion of the US national debt.  The list doesn't even mention things that Trump mentioned in his nomination acceptance speech!  If he believes what he said, then it should be on his list.  In short, this list is either very ill-conceived, or reflects a deliberately unstated change of direction for items that are not listed (which, if this is the case, is a deception), or presumes wihtout stating it (which shouldn't be) that it adds to the 2016 RNC platform.  No matter how you look at it, this so-called agenda for a second term can only leave us wondering what is going on with these people and how decisions are being made.  

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Sat, 08/29/2020 02:53 am

    You trie to imply that Trump has ulterior motives in not having a new platform, which is a lie. Trump has clearly stated his positions on all the issues and his past record supports what he says. Does Trump not support the second amendment? Has he not appointed pro-life judges? Has he not supported the coal and oil industry? Clearly Trump has spoken on all these issues and to bring questions forward where he stands on these is political hackery. 

  •  CherylQuilts's picture
    Posted: Fri, 08/28/2020 06:33 pm

    I'm confused about Amy Black's comment. I clicked on the "list" link to view President Trump's Second Term Agenda. At the bottom of the list, it lists "Defend America's Values" that include much of what Amy said is not there. Given the diversity of those who spoke at the RNC, it seems clear to me what President Trump wants to accomplish, as Joan (joansredpen) posted. Thank you for your continued coverage of politics and government for World, Harvest! Blessings!

  • SamIamHis
    Posted: Fri, 08/28/2020 08:45 pm

    During the election of 2016, I thoroughly read the entire platform of the Republican and the Democrat parties.  Because I have many liberal friends it was important to me to actually know the platform I would stand on and the one I couldn't abide.  I was able to have conversations regarding that election that were based on voting for a platform I could agree with.  This reduced the partisian attacks on either of the chosen candidates.  I had no problem with the 2016 Republican platform and it doesn't bother me that it was not new and improved for 2020.  It makes sense as well that having only 336 delgates instead of the normal 2500 would not have been a true validation of a new platform.  

    I agree that President Trump did not need to list conservative items of concern in his agenda for the 2nd term.  As we have discovered, he is a man of his word.  Promises made, promises kept means that he will not let up on achievements and goals of the 1st term but will relentlessly pursue and work to uphold what was accomplished or worked toward in that term.  For a president who has been relentlessly harassed, beleaguered, maligned and discredited from before day 1 in office, he has shown remarkable resolve to continue to work for the people of this great country and for the platform on which he entered office.

  •  Nicolas Burns's picture
    Nicolas Burns
    Posted: Fri, 08/28/2020 10:20 pm

    First off, thanks for writing this piece and porviding a link! Second, there is a probable later addition posted at the very bottom of his priorities list on some of the missing notable issues:



    Continue nominating constitutionalist Supreme Court and lower court judges
    Protect unborn life through every means available
    Defend the freedoms of religious believers and organizations
    Support the exercise of Second Amendment rights