Speed Reads

RNC 2020

Trump basks in attention of unmasked RNC crowd as America's coronavirus deaths near 180,000

President Trump was apparently craving a crowd.

Trump crashed Vice President Mike Pence's big moment on Wednesday night, emerging after his second-in-command's keynote speech to bask in the attention of the unmasked attendees at Fort McHenry. While the crowd had been spaced out for proper social distancing during Pence's address, they swarmed together to take photos and speak to the president and vice president at the end of the night. "They are jammed in there just like any other time," observed CNN's Dana Bash.

The optics of the moment were particularly grim as the country neared 180,000 COVID-19 deaths, over a month sooner than a June model had predicted America would reach that number.

The approximately 100 or so people in the crowd had reportedly not been tested for COVID-19 before attending the event. Pence — who painted an optimistic portrait of Trump's handling of the pandemic in his speech, and heads the White House coronavirus task force — nevertheless fist-bumped some of the attendees, including older veterans.

"To have so many elderly veterans, or otherwise elderly people, in this audience, not sitting socially distanced, the vast majority of them not wearing any masks, for this to go on for a very long time including a lot of chanting and shouting — I just, I feel concerned for what is happening here," Rachel Maddow said on MSNBC. She added: "It's just unnerving at a health level. I feel like we're watching Chronicle of a Death Foretold here." Jeva Lange