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The Republican Party lays out its 2024 policy platform

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Republican Party has published its platform, the principles it will run on for this fall's campaign.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

At the urging of former President Trump, the document is very short, compared with the documents that both parties have put out in past elections. It is revealing for what it says and what it leaves out.

FADEL: NPR's Stephen Fowler has been reading, and he joins me now. Hi, Stephen.

STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: Hey there.

FADEL: So what's your impression?

FOWLER: On the surface, Leila, yeah, it's brief. In 2016, Republicans had more than 66 pages of dense text that sketched out numerous policy goals if they took power - now, just 16 pages that sounds a lot like a rally speech and reads more like a post on Trump's Truth Social website. There's short bullet points about plans to make America great again, plus 20 promises, typed in all-caps, vowing to do things like seal the border and stop the migrant invasion.

FADEL: OK, so a lot of slogans, and that term, migrant invasion, to describe people crossing the border jumps out at me. It's language that was also thrown around a lot during the Trump administration and then echoed in the racist screed of the shooter in El Paso back in 2019, who carried out that deadly attack on Latinos in a Walmart. So other than these slogans, do we learn much?

FOWLER: You can, if you also combine that with what Trump did his first four years in office before and what he said on the campaign trail this year. I mean, there's the pledge to enact the largest ever deportation operation in American history that's central to his stump speeches. He said that would require help from local police and the National Guard. There's also the suggestion to bring back a travel ban from Muslim-majority countries he pushed during his first year in office...

FADEL: Right.

FOWLER: ...A vow to bring back extreme vetting of immigrants and their backgrounds as they seek to come into the country and an aggressive plan to use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

FADEL: OK, a theme there. What else?

FOWLER: Well, there's a call for same-day voting, even though the GOP is pushing its voters to, quote, "swamp the vote" and cast ballots early this year. Calls to make America the dominant energy producer in the world come as the U.S. is already the world's leading oil producer, while also including shoutouts to artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, two things that are heavy energy consumers, and Trump's economic proposals, Leila, include more tax cuts, and new tariffs on foreign goods that some experts say could lead to more inflation.

FADEL: So I didn't hear you mention abortion, though, which is a big issue this election. Trump has been evasive at times on what he would sign into law. Anything on that?

FOWLER: Here's where we see both the political impact of the platform, as well as its limitations. After 35 mentions of the word abortion in 2016's platform, the current platform only has one.

FADEL: Oh.

FOWLER: Because of Trump, the official stance now is that states can decide what level of restrictions to enact. I mean, Republicans have been consistently on the losing side of this issue at the ballot box ever since that Dobbs Supreme Court decision. While Republicans do not commit here to a national abortion ban, this platform's not binding in any way, and it doesn't change the views of many of his allies and advocacy groups, who still want that type of restriction and will likely still push for it if Trump wins, especially given language in the platform about the 14th Amendment's guarantee to life that leaves the door open for more.

FADEL: And what's been the reaction to the policy paper?

FOWLER: Well, even though some anti-abortion groups are upset at the softening of the language there, there's still Republican unity behind Trump, heading into the convention next week. Democrats are tying it to the larger Project 2025 proposed by Trump allies to go even further with its proposals to reshape the government, and everyone seems to agree a second-term Trump could get more of this done, thanks to more allies in Congress and the courts.

FADEL: That's NPR's Stephen Fowler in Atlanta. Thank you, Stephen.

FOWLER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Stephen Fowler
Stephen Fowler is a political reporter with NPR's Washington Desk and will be covering the 2024 election based in the South. Before joining NPR, he spent more than seven years at Georgia Public Broadcasting as its political reporter and host of the Battleground: Ballot Box podcast, which covered voting rights and legal fallout from the 2020 presidential election, the evolution of the Republican Party and other changes driving Georgia's growing prominence in American politics. His reporting has appeared everywhere from the Center for Public Integrity and the Columbia Journalism Review to the PBS NewsHour and ProPublica.
Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
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