GOP convention to include 6 speakers who made the pandemic worse

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Mike Pence, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and several lawmakers are slated to speak on the third night of the convention, as the coronavirus death toll nears 179,000.

After two days of pretending the COVID-19 crisis is under control and in America's rear view mirror, the Republican National Convention on Wednesday will feature some of the people responsible for making the ongoing pandemic worse.

On Monday and Tuesday, several speakers and videos presented a counterfactual narrative, in which Donald Trump showed great leadership, effectively addressed the coronavirus pandemic, and saved many lives.

In reality, America leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths. More than 5.8 million Americans have been infected and at least 178,779 have died.

On Wednesday, the convention will feature at least six speakers who contributed to the continued spread of the virus through votes, mismanagement, or refusal to heed experts' advice.

Mike Pence

In late February, Trump tasked Pence with coordinating the government's response to the coronavirus. Like Trump, Pence has repeatedly claimed the nation is "winning" the fight, even as cases have continued to spike.

In April, he incorrectly predicted the crisis would be over by Memorial Day. In June, he told GOP senators to focus on the "encouraging signs" and shared false data about case increases.

And in July, Pence met with a group of doctors who had appeared in a viral video that was removed from social media for containing misinformation.

"Just finished a great meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and his Chief of Staff," one of the participants tweeted later. "We are doing everything to restore the power of medicine back to doctors. Doctors everywhere should be able to prescribe Hydroxychloroquine without repercussions or obstruction."

Trump has repeatedly pushed the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent COVID-19, even as numerous studies have shown it to be ineffective or, in some cases, dangerous for the patient.

Kristi Noem

The Republican governor of South Dakota was one of just a handful of state leaders who refused to issue any stay-at-home orders after the pandemic first hit, bragging in April that she was protecting "citizens' rights" by letting the virus spread. Her approach did not work, as places like the metro Sioux Falls area saw massive spikes in coronavirus cases over the next few months.

Though the sparsely populated state has seen more than 11,500 cases and 162 deaths, Noem has since used her non-response as an argument for libertarianism and for recruitment of new residents.

Earlier this month, she endorsed a massive motorcycle rally in Sturgis. More than 70 coronavirus cases have already been linked to the crowded event.

Marsha Blackburn

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was one of just eight senators to vote against a bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill in March.

"Tennessee workers and small business owners do not want unfunded federal mandates placed on them while they are struggling to keep their doors open and meet payroll. They have told me they desperately need our support for flexibility to create solutions that work for their employees," she said at the time.

While that legislation became law over her objections, she and the Republican Senate majority have successfully blocked action on a House-passed bill containing $75 billion to enhance coronavirus tracing, testing, and treatment. It would also have expanded hazard pay and child care for essential workers and created an emergency exposure control plan to protect them in the workplace.

Blackburn dismissed that bill as a "wish list for Democrats."

Dan Crenshaw

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) was one of 184 Republicans who voted against the aforementioned legislation when the House passed it in May. He slammed the bill in a floor speech, asking, "Is this a joke? Because it certainly wouldn't be based in reality."

Elise Stefanik

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) also voted against the House bill. In a May statement, she complained, "Speaker Pelosi did not reach across the aisle even once to work with Republicans on this $3 trillion, 1,800 page partisan wish list. This $3 trillion bill is a non-starter written behind closed doors."

Lee Zeldin

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin voted against the House bill as well. Like the others on this list, the New York congressman is slated to speak at the GOP convention on Wednesday night.

"This massive $3 trillion, 1,800+ page bill is a one House messaging bill that was crafted without bipartisanship, debate, vetting, discussion or compromise. This is not how to legislate," Zeldin said in a statement in May, reacting to the House coronavirus relief bill.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.