This is a rush transcript from “Special Report," August 26, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS HOST: All right, that's it for us. We're going to hand it off to Bret Baier for special coverage of the Republican National Convention.
Hi, Bret. BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, I'm still here. Good evening and welcome to Washington. Again, I'm Bret Baier.
Breaking tonight, we are keeping our eyes on three major stories. The Republican Convention of course enters its third night with tonight's emphasis on the military and law enforcement.
Violence over a police shooting Kenosha, Wisconsin has turned deadly again. And tonight, the former Vice President Joe Biden taking a tough stance on the protests along with NBA players.
But we begin tonight with what could be a catastrophic hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast. The U.S. Hurricane Center warned storm surge from hurricane Laura could reach what it calls unsurvivable 20 feet in parts of Texas and Louisiana. The storm has already reached Category 4 status and is predicted to make landfall tonight.
Correspondent Casey Stegall begins our coverage tonight in Galveston, Texas. Good evening, Casey.
CASEY STEGALL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening. Hurricane Laura is in the final stretch right now. About 140 miles or so away from the coastline and the National Hurricane Center is projecting landfall around midnight, Central Time in about seven hours from now along the Texas Louisiana border. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DONALD JONES, METEOROLOGIST, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: If you do not evacuate, your life will be in immediate danger. STEGALL: Last minute pleas to leave as hurricane Laura roars toward the Gulf Coast. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went through hurricane Ike, I lost everything, everything, everything. We have to rebuild, restart all when I don't want to go to that again.
STEGALL: By car, bus and any means possible, thousands of people along the Texas Louisiana border left hours before the catastrophic storm is set to strike.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm just trying to get my family to safe. And if I could help everybody else out, that's what I'm out here trying to do.
STEGALL: Laura growing nearly 70 percent in strength in just 24 hours and expected to become even stronger. The hurricanes winds could smash homes and storm surge could submerge entire communities reaching an unsurvivable 20 feet in some areas.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): This is different than hurricane Harvey for example which was a heavy rain event and a flood event, this is a horrific wind event, especially where the eye will come across the shore.
STEGALL: And with COVID-19 still a threat, evacuees are taking extra precautions with many not staying in typical shelters.
JUDGE CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT: With it being in hotels as opposed to shelters and everyone eating in the room, we'll have wrap-around services and testing available (INAUDIBLE) new COVID test.
STEGALL: But still, some are not heeding the warnings, saying, they will write it out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll stay. You got to make a decision and live with your decision because then, we start trying to get out at the last minute, then, you put yourself in jeopardy.
STEGALL: A jeopardy rescuers say they won't put themselves in. It's going to be between you and God. (INAUDIBLE) (END VIDEOTAPE)
STEGALL: Forecasters say that Laura sustained winds are currently at a 145 miles per hour, a 145. Many communities across the Gulf Coast have implemented curfews going into effect tonight. Here on Galveston Island it starts at 8:00, Bret. BAIER: Casey Stegall live in Galveston. Casey, thanks.
Let's get an update on the track of the storm. Fox News meteorologist Adam Klotz, Adam. ADAM KLOTZ, FOX NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, good evening, Bret. We're at this point getting really close to seeing things deteriorate along the Gulf Coast as we approach the shore line. Now, about 140 miles just off of the coast, that's getting close enough. You're starting to see maybe some of these outer bounds of round -- of rain beginning to batter the coastline.
And actually, everything here highlighted in that big red box. That is a tornado watch. The ingredients are in place that you can see tornado spin up here overnight as the system gets closer and closer.
I would say within the next couple of hours, we're going to be talking about those really tight outer bands beginning to run on the shore. That's when the winds will really pick up to get up to hurricane force.
Landfall likely coming at two or three in the morning but things will be worse well before you get to the point where you're actually talking about landfall. This is going to bring a lot of water, a lot of rain and a lot of wind.
Everything here in the big orange area, that is at least tropical storm force winds and then everything in the red's getting into hurricane force winds. Those likely arriving around 10:00 P.M. tonight and then lingering into the overnight hours.
And when you talk about that much wind, a storm like this brings a lot of water with it and we were talking about it in some of the most extreme locations. Anywhere from 15 to 20 feet of water. It's getting Lake Charles area widespread, eight to 12 inches of water.
Bret, this is going to be a system that is going to impact a lot of folks and of course we'll be here watching it.
BAIER: All right, continuing coverage here on Fox. Adam, thank you.
Two people are dead tonight. One person is in custody following protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin in response to the shooting of a black man by police. Authorities there are bracing for a fourth night of violence and the governor is calling up reinforcements from the National Guard.
Now, President Trump is not the only one tweeting about the violence. Chief correspondent Jonathan Hunt is in Kenosha again tonight. Good evening, Jonathan. JONATHAN HUNT, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Good evening Bret. This afternoon a spokesman for the Trump campaign described the video of the shooting of Jacob Blake as troubling, disturbing and horrific while President Trump himself tweeted that he is sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha. Adding, quote, we will not stand for looting, arson, violence and lawlessness on American streets. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
HUNT: Gun shots on the streets of Kenosha in the middle of a volatile mix of protesters and armed vigilantes who claim to be protecting local businesses.
On video, a man apparently one of the vigilantes is seen running after the first burst of gunfire. He's chased by crowd. Trips, falls and members of the crowd catch him. He fires his weapon several times hitting at least two people. Then, gets up and walks away still holding his rifle. The 17-year old shooting suspect identified in court document says Kyle Rittenhouse has been charged with murder.
Earlier, Fox News had been told, self-styled militias planned to be on the streets Tuesday night. And video later showed groups of heavily armed civilians in and around several local businesses. They said they were there to prevent businesses being burned as had happened on previous nights when protests turned to riots.
JOHN ANTARAMIAN (D), MAYOR OF KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Violence to property, violence to people, absolutely unacceptable. And it is up to us to make sure that that does not continue.
HUNT: All this coming in the wake of the shooting of 29-year old Jacob Blake Sunday afternoon. Video from that incident showed Blake had scuffled with police broken free and was then leaning into his car when he was shot at least seven times in the back by at least one officer. He is currently paralyzed from the waist down.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris spoke to the Blake family today. And Biden then released a videotaped statement after intense criticism from Republicans for not speaking out about the increasing violence around the country.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Protester brutality is a right and absolutely necessary, but burning down communities is not protest, it's needless violence.
HUNT: The investigation is ongoing. The Justice Department assisting the Wisconsin Attorney General and investigators have shared almost nothing publicly, not commenting on the office's potential motives. All witness reports that police had at one point shouted drop the knife. (END VIDEOTAPE)
HUNT: And a short time ago, the NBA announced that all three of tonight's Playoff games are postponed. Following a decision by the Milwaukee Bucks to boycott game five of that Playoff series with the Orlando Magic as a protest against the shooting of Jacob Blake, Bret. BAIER: Jonathan Hunt live in Kenosha. Jonathan, thanks.
Police in Portland report 23 arrest overnight as demonstrators smashed windows at a security camera at City Hall. Oregon Democratic Governor Kate Brown tweets, it is time for the violence and vandalism to end.
In Seattle, a radio station is reporting riders used what is believed to be quick dry concrete to try to seal a door and trap police officers in their precinct. As vandals set fire to the building Monday night. The Trump campaign is promoting what it calls a stirring speech with an optimistic tone by Vice President Mike Pence during tonight's Republican Convention session. Pence is expected to detail the president's policy accomplishments including the economy foreign policy and yes, the coronavirus response. It comes amid a difficult time for his boss. Chief White House correspondent John Roberts has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: With two major crises, hurricane Lara and the civil unrest in Wisconsin commanding the president's attention, the Republican Convention will try to preserve some of the spotlight with a focus on heroes in the military and law enforcement and diversity within the party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of people on defense still and that's OK. And they're looking at this convention and they're wanting to hear the stories and they're wanting to know what should I do, who should I vote for?
This is an opportunity for this president to tell his story, to tell of the promises that he's kept.
ROBERTS: Vice President Mike Pence will headline night three against the dramatic backdrop of Fort McHenry, inspiration for our in during national anthem.
The campaign says the vice president's address will be optimistic and forward looking. Contrasting the Trump administration's accomplishments with what the campaign says are simple platitudes being offered by Joe Biden.
In her speech last night, First Lady Melania Trump appealed to women voters to give her husband another four years. And touched on both the coronavirus crisis and unrest across the nation has no other Republican speaker yet has.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one. And my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering. I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice and never make assumptions based on the colorful person scheme.
ROBERTS: The outreach to women voters will continue tonight in addition to Second Lady Karen Pence, top aide Kellyanne Conway who's leaving the White House at month's end. And rising stars New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota.
GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): We need leadership that will uphold the rule of law, that will make sure they're delivering opportunities for their kids and that is a very clear choice in this election that will continue to talk about.
ROBERTS: Lara Trump will give a very personal pitch to women to give her father-in-law another term.
LARA TRUMP, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I want to give up a version of Donald Trump that you never hear out there, about the -- truly the man that he is. It's also the centennial of women's suffrage, I'm going to talk about that. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ROBERTS: For the first time this week, the Biden campaign will be counter programming the Republican Convention tomorrow. The running mate Kamala Harris will offer a prebuttal to President Trump's big acceptance speech slamming with the Biden campaign calls, the president's failures to address the coronavirus pandemic, Bret. BAIER: John Roberts at Fort McHenry. John, thanks.
Up next, former Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg shares his thoughts about the presidential race and the Republican Convention.
First, here's with some of our Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight. Fox 2 in San Francisco as Cal fire crews say, they're still going strong. 11 days into a statewide fire fight against blazes that have turned and burned more than a million acres, roughly the size of the state of Delaware.
Firefighters have repeatedly told the public they are short on resources and weary from working three day shifts in a row. Fox Richmond in Virginia as a judge refuses to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to prevent Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam from removing a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The judge's decision clears the way for a trial in the fall.
And this is a live look at Philadelphia from our affiliate Fox 29, the big story there tonight, a federal judge upholds the 28-year old -- 28-year prison sentence of the disgraced Pennsylvania judge who locked up thousands of juvenile offenders while he was taking kickbacks from the owner and builder of a for profit detention center Mark Ciavarella had been seeking a lighter sentence after three of the 12 counts for which he was convicted were overturned on appeal.
That's tonight's live look outside the Beltway from SPECIAL REPORT. We will be right back.
BAIER: Welcome back. Republicans are preparing for night three of their convention tonight. Let's get some reaction from the other side of the aisle.
Pete Buttigieg is former Democratic presidential candidate, served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana from 2012 until this year. Mayor Pete, welcome back to the program.
PETE BUTTIGIEG, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be back. Thanks for having me.
BAIER: Earlier in the show, we heard former Vice President Biden address the violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and really violence across the country, saying protests are OK and necessary, the violence has to be condemned.
Because it took until today, did Biden and the Democrats give Republicans an issue that they're hitting on again and again?
BUTTIGIEG: No, I think Democrats have always been clear that we support the peaceful right to protest, and also that we believe in non-violent protest. We also have to address the underlying issues here, and the simple reality is that we are seeing more and more chaos and violence under the Trump presidency. And there's no reason to expect that it would get any different or any better if he were reelected.
BAIER: Well, the Trump administration would say that they're calling for these cities to aggressively stop this violence in the streets, including calling up the National Guard in some of these states.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, we've seen the president's idea of how to deal with peaceful protesters, like when he teargassed protesters in Lafayette Square, leading even military leaders to apologize and a lot of Republicans to condemn his behavior.
I wouldn't be looking to the president for advice on how to deliver peace and stability. He is a master of chaos, he thrives on it, and I don't think he has any interest in justice or peace when it comes to the real issues of the day, which is how to make sure we have racial justice and peace and security in our cities and in every part of this country.
BAIER: But Mayor, you've seen these -- the video. You've seen people getting shot in some of these cities. You've seen the call for just some kind of control. I mean, isn't it getting out of hand in some of these places?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, no one, at least, I don't think any reasonable person believes that violence is appropriate, and it's a disservice to the message of -- by the way, the vast majority of those who are taking to the streets insisting that racism is wrong, and it's got to change.
But again, the president's strategy has obviously not helped because all of this chaos is happening on his watch. This is very much characteristic living in Donald Trump's America, and I think we're going to see more and more of it as long as he's in charge.
BAIER: OK, I mean, it's interesting to put it on his lap and he's calling for more, you know, effort to kind of crack down on some of this violence.
Let me turn though to what you're seeing in the Republican convention. A lot of criticism about the use of the trappings of the White House, the criticism of the secretary of state speaking in Jerusalem.
The White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows addressed that. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Nobody outside of the beltway really cares. They expect that Donald Trump is going to promote Republican values and they would expect that Barack Obama, when he was on office that he would do the same for Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Your reaction to that.
BUTTIGIEG: No, we don't decide whether to follow laws or break laws based on taking a poll on how many people care. It's wrong and illegal to use taxpayer resources for campaigning.
No. Now, that may not be the only issue or the biggest issue that's on American's mind. I think what's really driving this election is the president's failure to protect American lives and the economic disaster we're living through.
But, just to be clear, it is wrong and illegal to use taxpayer resources for campaigning. I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat. You know, certainly, when I was in uniform, I would have been in so much trouble if there is even a whiff of partisan activity on federal time.
But like so many other laws and rules and norms in our country, this president doesn't care, and I guess his chief of staff doesn't either.
BAIER: Well, Hatch Act does not apply to the president or vice president. There is specific areas of the White House that don't fall under it, on -- by the statute itself. And the Republicans argue that President Obama used parts of the White House in political ads before, as of other Democrats in the past.
BUTTIGIEG: There's never -- look, does anybody seriously believe that this is in keeping with norms in the past? This is -- this is -- there's a reason why political conventions and political speeches and activities take place off of federal grounds. And --
BAIER: Sure, but this is also COVID-19. And you tried to have it in Charlotte, you tried to have it in Jacksonville. It's having it in his home, which happens to be the White House.
BUTTIGIEG: And there is no other is available (INAUDIBLE) the White House? Come on, nobody believes that. Democrats were able to hold a convention without being on any taxpayer funded property. I'm sure the president of the United States was capable of doing the same.
I believe, he did this to remind his supporters and his show that he doesn't have to follow rules, he doesn't have to follow norms, and dare anybody to challenge him. And I think, there going to be some legal challenges to this.
Look, I don't want to go down this rabbit hole. Because I think on some level, they kind of wants us arguing about technicalities, so that we're not talking about the president's failure to protect American lives from coronavirus, and the economic disaster that's unfolding around us.
BAIER: Well, let's --
BUTTIGIEG: Just to be clear, it is illegal and wrong to use taxpayer resources for campaign purposes in this (INAUDIBLE).
BAIER: And obviously, they push back and challenge that and will fight that battle down that rabbit hole as Congress looks into it.
I want to turn to foreign policy quickly. Former defense secretary for the Obama administration Bob Gates, said about Vice President Biden. Biden, "has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."
He stands by that statement. What do you think about that?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, here is what I know. On the foreign policy and security issues right now, Vice President Biden has the right vision, and Donald Trump doesn't even make sense.
We're talking about -- remember, Donald Trump praised -- specifically praised the transparency. Now, of his word, Xi Jinping, when it came to the coronavirus. According to his own former national security adviser, John Bolton, he specifically encouraged China putting people in concentration camps because of their religion. We're not going to take lectures on China or any other foreign policy issue from this White House.
By the way, there's a reason why international respect for the American government and the American people has collapsed under this president.
There have been previous times when other countries have been mad at the United States. This is the first time in my lifetime that other countries have felt sorry for the United States.
BAIER: Well, here is another critique of Biden and the Iraq War vote. "This is an example of why years in Washington is not always the same thing as judgment. He supported the worse foreign policy decision made by the United States in my lifetime, which was the decision to invade Iraq." That was from you in December 2019.
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I believe the Iraq War was a mistake. And I believe Joe Biden has said the same thing with the benefit of our insight. But again, we're not going to take lectures on the Iraq War from the Republican Party at the time like this. And, you know, that was 2003. This is 2020.
BAIER: Mayor Pete Buttigieg, we appreciate your point of view. Welcome back any time.
BUTTIGIEG: Thanks, pleasure to be with you.
BAIER: We'll get reaction to Mayor Pete's comments when we talk to Florida Republican congressman, former Green Beret Michael Waltz, about the Republican convention and tonight's emphasis on the U.S. military, next.
BAIER: The theme for tonight's session at the Republican convention is, Land of Heroes, with a heavy emphasis on the military and law enforcement. Joining us tonight, a decorated combat Green Beret, congressman from Florida, Michael Waltz. Congressman, thanks for being here.
REP. MICHAEL WALTZ (R-FL): Yes, thanks, Bret.
BAIER: You just heard Mayor Pete Buttigieg, his comments on a number of different things, including foreign policy. Your reaction.
WALTZ: Well, I thought is, his comments particularly on the violence that's going on around America was incredibly disappointing. You know, that's what's wrong with politicians today. They're just seeking to blame this president or blame someone else. I wonder if he blamed Obama and Biden when Ferguson was on fire, when Baltimore was overtaken with riots years ago under the Obama-Biden administration.
You know, and what we didn't hear from him was a full-throated support for the 99.9 percent of our men and women in blue who strap on that badge every day and get between our communities and the bad guys to take keep us safe.
Of course, we want to root out bad police officers, any administration and any president does. But we're not hearing that support from folks like Mayor Pete or Joe Biden or anyone else. And they need to hear from their elected officials that we have their back as they go out in harm's way.
BAIER: He said it's going down a rabbit hole, but I want to ask you about it too, about the use of the White House and the use of the secretary of state in Jerusalem giving a speech.
BAIER: Here is Congressman Joaquin Castro today talking about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Our concern is that Secretary Pompeo has once again politicized the State Department. This is a State Department whose morale is at an all-time low.
From what I'm hearing, it's quite possible that the reason he went was to make that political speech and used official government resources to get there.
BAIER: They've said there was no resources used for the taping of that message.
BAIER: And he did not attack Joe Biden, but your reaction.
WALTZ: You know this is -- I think it's a bit ridiculous, it's a distraction tactic. You know, at the end of the day, every air -- every president has used Air Force One, has -- and they have a unique carve out in the Hatch Act.
And what the Democrats really don't want to be talking about is the actual policies and the everyday Americans that are talking about how those policies have changed their lives, from economic opportunity zones to reform of the V.A. to tax reform, funding the military, the judges that are going in place. Those are the things we've heard during the Republican National Convention that we did not hear anything about during the DNC last week. And so this is a distraction tactic and they know it.
BAIER: Mayor Pete, others have said that Joe Biden has the right foreign policy vision. Last week Senator Tammy Duckworth said this about Donald Trump's foreign policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, (D-IL): Unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency. He has common sense. He can command both from experience and from strength. Donald Trump doesn't deserve to call himself commander-in-chief for another four minutes let alone another four years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: On specifics, how do you fight back against the Biden campaign on the issue of foreign policy?
WALTZ: You just look at what he didn't get done over his nearly 50 years, including eight years as vice president. Let's just walk around the world very quickly under Biden and Obama. You had Syria in total chaos with genocide. You had the rise of is with the premature pull-out of Iraq. You had Russia on the march in Crimea and Ukraine. You had China on the march in the South China Sea. They basically gave a shoulder shrug to North Koreans' nukes, and embraced socialism in Cuba and Venezuela.
We cannot afford a weak leader in Joe Biden. We need the strength of Donald Trump. And I'll tell you who does respect him right now, I'll tell you ISIS respects him with al-Baghdadi dead. Iran respects him when we backed out of the Iran deal and took out their general in Soleimani. And I can keep going. Our adversaries are who respect our military right now that is fully equipped, has what it needs.
And you know, Bret, I was down range under Obama and Biden when they essentially tied our hands with restrictive rules of engagement. We can't go backwards.
And finally, what you're also not hearing Mayor Pete or anybody else talk about is the existential threat to this country that China is. You have a situation where just this week Vice President Biden was quoting Mao as saying that the rise of China is a peaceful thing. His son, Hunter, is a business partner in the central bank of China. I don't think the American people can trust a commander-in-chief with those kind of conflicts and that kind of view.
Meanwhile, you have President Trump putting sanctions in place for Hong Kong, taking action because of their genocide of the Uighurs. The Chinese today just launched two carrier killing missiles because we are in the South China Sea where a third of the world's shipping transits. At the end of the day, we have to be strong against this threat, and we cannot afford to go backwards with a repeat of what Biden did or didn't get done over the last 50 years.
BAIER: I'm sure we're going to hear a lot about that tonight.
One last thing, that is the criticism from the Biden camp and Democrats, some in the media, saying that this RNC is an alternate reality and that there's not a lot of focus on COVID-19, despite the beginning of the first night a lot of laying out what the administration has done. But they point to Larry Kudlow talking in past tense about COVID-19. You know it very well from Florida and the numbers that you're seeing on the ground there.
WALTZ: Look, I think the president is giving the governors and local officials the resources that they need to deal with this at a local level. It is very different in downtown Miami than it is in Wyoming or Montana. But again, this is a distraction. What we cannot have, Bret, what I didn't fight all over the world for is a future of where America is led by democratic socialists or the world is led by Chinese communists. And those are the two key questions that Americans have to ask themselves as they go to the polls on November 3rd.
BAIER: Congress Michael Waltz, we appreciate your time, and thanks for your service to the country.
WALTZ: Thanks, Bret.
BAIER: Comparing the Trump's administration's coronavirus response to how the Obama administration handled Ebola and H1N1. We've heard a lot about it. What's the true story here? That's next.
BAIER: Technology companies led stocks higher on Wall Street today. The Dow gained 83, record closes again for the S&P 500 after a 35 point rise, and the Nasdaq following a 199 point surge today.
The Justice Department is requesting COVID-19 data from the governors of states that issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents. The department says New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan required nursing homes to admit coronavirus patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing. We've done a lot of those stories. All of those states have Democratic governors.
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan released a statement calling the request a transparent politicization of the Justice Department. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says the fact the request was made during the Republican Convention speaks to the nature of the review. And Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's office says it is reviewing the request.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, changing its policy, saying some people may not need to be tested for COVID-19 even if they have been near an infected person. A short time ago, the American Medical Association responded, calling it a recipe for community spread and more spikes in the coronavirus, and asking for a scientific justification.
The change is already becoming another line of attack for Democrats this campaign season against President Trump's response to the coronavirus. But the previous administration, which included Joe Biden, of course, had issues of its own in dealing with public health problems. Despite talk about those efforts at last week's DNC, tonight a fair and balanced look back from correspondent David Spunt.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They will get this pandemic under control, like Joe did when he helped me manage H1N1, and prevent an Ebola outbreak.
DAVID SPUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: As COVID-19 numbers rise, critics of President Trump are quick to point out another health crisis in another administration -- Ebola.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only two people in the United States died, two. That is what's called leadership.
SPUNT: But the current crisis is different.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: The COVID-19 pandemic is the most significant global public health challenge that we have faced as a nation in more than a century.
SPUNT: Medical experts tell FOX News the two are not even remotely similar.
DR. LISA MARAGAKIS, JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM: That is largely because of the transmissibility of respiratory viral illness.
SPUNT: Dr. Lisa Maragakis is an infectious disease expert and says COVID- 19 is easier spread than Ebola, and before Ebola, there was H1N1.
MARAGAKIS: That virus did not have as high of a mortality rate as we are seeing now.
SPUNT: Maragakis SAYS H1N1 was easier to contain than COVID because of other available flu vaccines and natural immunity. According to the National Institutes of Health in a one-year span from 2009 to 2010, medical experts estimate nearly 61 million cases of H1N1 hit the United States. That includes 12,469 deaths, a significantly lower death count than COVID- 19 with 177,000 deaths and counting.
Not all Democrats say the Obama-Biden team won the H1N1 war thanks to preparation. Last year one former staffer chocked it up to old-fashioned luck.
RON KLAIN, FORMER BIDEN CHIEF OF STAFF: A bunch of really talented, really great people working on it, and we did every possible thing wrong. And it's just purely a fortuity that this isn't one of the great mass casualty events in American history. It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SPUNT: Klain later said his comments focused on the frustration surrounding vaccine production. We reached out to him for this story but did not hear back. Bret?
BAIER: David, thanks.
Up next, the panel with reaction to what we're seeing from the Republican Convention.
First, Beyond our Borders tonight. China reportedly launched two missiles into the South China Sea in what is interpreted as a warning to the U.S. "The South China Morning Post" reports the action comes one day after a U.S. spy plane flew near a Chinese live fire naval drill off its northern coast.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un holds his third high level political conference in as many weeks. Kim raised alarm about the nation's coronavirus response and a typhoon forecast to hit the country early Thursday. That's according to the North's official news agency. Some were reporting that he might be in a coma.
Just some of the other stories Beyond our Borders tonight. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, U.S. FIRST LADY: I urge people to come together in a civil manner to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice, and never make assumptions based on the color of a person's skin.
DANIEL CAMERON, (R) KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Vice President, look at me. I am black. We're not all the same, sir. I am not in chains. My mind is my own. And you can't tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The Kentucky attorney general one of the speakers last night, and of course the first lady. Tonight, the big headliner, Vice President Mike Pence, the second lady, also Kellyanne Conway, Lara Trump, the White House press secretary, and a slew of congressmen, a couple of senators along the way as well.
Let's bring in our panel, FOX News senior political analyst Brit Hume, Katie Pavlich, news editor, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief at "USA Today," and Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
All right. Brit, let's look towards this night and how you think this has shaped up this week so far for Republicans.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Republicans mostly feel that they've had their convention gotten off to a good start. The speeches the first two nights were strong, and last night in particular represented in the person of the first lady what you might call the soft side of Donald Trump, something I think they think a lot of voters don't believe even exists. So, so far so good I'm sure they all feel.
If you're looking at tonight's line-up and you're thinking if you're an undivided voter or you have possibly other things to do, would you tune in to hear this line-up of speakers? The first two nights you had some pretty big names, some interesting combinations of people. Last night the first lady and so on. Tonight, I'm not so sure. This is not to prejudge what the speakers are going to say or how well they're going to say it. It just strikes me as a line-up that might not produce as large an audience just from people deciding to tune in.
BAIER: Although each night, Susan, we've had the quote-unquote surprise President Trump appearance. Last night about 19 million people tuned in. What about the take on where the Republican's messaging is and how it's perhaps selling?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": Their message has been in a couple different places. The first night all about dire predictions of what would happen if Democrats win power. A very different message last night from the first lady and others. But we are not talking about a political figure just being introduced to the American public. This is someone in Donald Trump who is well known, people's views about him are pretty well shaped. And I just wonder how many difference any convention, however well run, is going to make.
BAIER: Let's take a listen to the condemning of the violence by Jacob Blake's mother, Julia Jackson, and the former vice president, Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIA JACKSON, MOTHER: Please, don't burn up property and cause havoc and tear your own homes down in my son's name. It's not helping Jacob or any other of the men or women who have suffered in these areas.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary. But burning down communities is not protest. It's needless violence. So let's unite and heal. Do justice. End the violence. And end systemic racism in this country now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Karl, obviously the violence has been going on in several cities around the country. We've been covering it. It's taken till today for that statement by Joe Biden. Too late, or is that effective messaging there?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Better late than never. The one thing that has been shocking to me is how the Biden campaign has found it difficult to say it said today much earlier. In fact, we had one particularly brutal night in Portland, and the next day, Senator Harris in a committee hearing excoriated a DHS official by claiming that he was somehow or another attacking mothers and veterans when the mob that tried to burn down the federal courthouse in Portland had acted the night before.
So this is something that he has got a vulnerability on, the Democrats have a vulnerability, and Biden has to make a decision that he's going to say this consistently when these acts of violence occur and condemn them. We didn't hear him on Chicago. We heard one time on Portland. We did not hear him on Seattle, we did not hear him on Oakland. This is the kind of thing that is going to fester and is already causing some problems for him, and that's why I think we saw him change his tune tonight.
BAIER: Meanwhile, Katie, the president is tweeting about the violence, saying "We will not stand for looting, arson, violence, lawlessness on American streets. My team just got off the phone Governor Evers of Wisconsin who agreed to accepted federal assistance. Portland should do the same." He's hitting the line about law and order in the wake of this chaos.
KATIE PAVLICH, NEWS EDITOR: Yes, so Bret, the big difference here is of course Joe Biden is not president so he doesn't have the authority to send in the National Guard or offer federal assistance. But he condemned the violence today, but those are just words. There was no action to back up what he would do as president if this kind of violence was going and raging in the streets while he was in the White House.
President Trump from the beginning has offered federal help. A number of Democratic mayors and governors have refused that help. The Wisconsin governor refused additional National Guard troops yesterday, which resulted in chaos and the breakdown of civil society last night, as we've seen in these horrific videos.
And the other contrast that the president can make tonight in the RNC is they have someone whose wife was shot in her garage, and Operation Legend through the Justice Department and the Trump administration has been helping to solve her murder. And so they can bring up these examples of real people who are impacted by not just the riots but an increase in crime in cities all across the country that has been a major theme. And for Joe Biden to come out now after three months of sitting by and really not saying much about this because the polling shows that it's a political problem for him is pretty nakedly political, and I think people can see right through that.
BAIER: And obviously it's having an impact broadly, with the NBA cancelling some games tonight, other teams considering it.
Brit, I want to just talk -- there's so much coverage today about the use of the White House and the trappings of the president. I just want to read -- and we talked about it with Mayor Pete and Congressman Waltz, from the Office of Special Counsel and the Hatch Act, very quickly, "The law expressly does not apply to the president or the vice president under longstanding regulations governing the Hatch Act. There are certain areas of the White House where the Hatch Act does not prohibit federal employees from engaging in political activity. The West Lawn, the Rose Garden are two such areas. Therefore, covered federal employees would not necessarily violate Hatch Act merely by attending political events in those areas."
My point in reading that is that there's so much ado about it, that it's illegal, when in reality the statute is pretty clear.
HUME: Yes, and that's why, Bret, you began to hear people on the Democratic side, on the left talking about norms being violated. Well, President Trump violating norms is not exactly a banner headline. This is basically what he promised he would do. He's not Mr. Norm. And so I think this is an issue that might throw a little shade on these events, but in my view, not very much. It's just much ado about not much.
BAIER: Susan, the White House chief of staff said beyond the beltway, middle America is not thinking about it.
PAGE: You talk to voters, as we do in our poll, they care a lot about the coronavirus, they care about economic repercussions, the recession. They care about violence in the streets. They care about racial justice issues like the shooting of Jacob Blake. I've never heard a voter raise this as a concern with me.
BAIER: And Karl, last word quickly, are Republicans moving the needle here? There was not a bounce for the Democrats after the conversation last week. Could there be one this week?
ROVE: I doubt it because we live in polarized times. If you look at it, the last four national conventions, pairs of national conventions, have resulted in little bounce for either party. The last time we had a big measurable bounce was 2000. Gore got up by eight points. His convention was followed by Bush who got up eight point, wiped out each other's advantage. I think we're likely to see what we've seen in previous years, which is flat for both parties. Minor bounce, but not really measurable.
BAIER: We will see. Thank you, panel.
When we come back, honoring a fallen hero.
BAIER: Finally tonight, paying tribute. Michael Fournier on the front line fighting the Hills fire in western Fresno County last week when his helicopter went down. The 52-year-old died in that crash. A procession of first responders escorted his body back to his home in Rancho Cucamonga. Firefighters saluted from overpasses, and friends waved from sidewalks in a powerful tribute to the fallen hero. Thanks for your service.
Thank you for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for this "Special Report," fair, balanced, and still unafraid.
"The Story" hosted by Martha starts right now. I'll see you at 10:00.
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