Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson defended President Trump against accusations of racism at the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

Why it matters: Carson, the only Black member of Trump's Cabinet, has become a loyal ally and defender of the president since running against him in the 2016 Republican primary.

The big picture: Joe Biden accused Trump in July of being the first racist to be elected to the White House — the first time the Democratic nominee had directly made the attack, per the Washington Post.

  • Biden made the accusation amid a cultural and political reckoning against systematic racism, driven by Black Lives Matter protests against the killing of George Floyd and against police brutality.
  • Several figures in the Trump administration have said that they do not believe systemic racism exists in the U.S., despite historic discrimination against Black Americans in the job market, the housing market and the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on racial minorities.

What he's saying: "President Trump does not dabble in identity politics. He wants everyone to succeed and believes in the adage, 'a rising tide lifts all boats.' Many on the other side love to incite division by claiming that President Trump is a racist. They could not be more wrong."

  • "One of the first things he did as president was bring the Office of Historically Black Colleges and Universities into the White House so that it could get proper attention and financial support. Before the pandemic, African American unemployment was at an all-time low."
  • "President Trump accomplished prison reform. He created incentives to encourage investors to become involved with economically-deprived areas of America."
  • "What is racist is the fact that African Americans have the highest abortion rate. President Trump is the most pro-life President in our country's history. He will continue to fight for those who cannot yet speak."

Of note: Carson began his speech by acknowledging the emotional toll currently faced by the family of Jacob Blake, who was shot several times in the back by police officers while walking to his car, per the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Go deeper

How Trump, Biden plan to score at Tuesday's debate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump has been practicing with flashcards and prepping with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie before Tuesday's presidential debate.

Behind the scenes: Top aides tell Axios he's been testing his attacks on the campaign trail for weeks, seeing what ignites his crowds or falls flat. One of the biggest themes Trump plans to drive home is his "tough guy" persona, which advisers see as an advantage with voters in key states.

Poll: Majority of voters say election winner should fill SCOTUS vacancy

President Trump and Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A majority of voters believe the winner of the next presidential election should fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a new poll from the New York Times and Siena College finds.

Why it matters: President Trump and Senate Republicans have vowed to swiftly confirm his nominee Amy Coney Barrett, in part hoping for a political boost as the conservative base is extremely motivated by issues concerning the court. The poll indicates that moving fast may not help them with voters they also need to win over: women, independents and college-educated white voters.

Former GOP governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge endorses Joe Biden

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, will vote for Joe Biden, he announced in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed on Sunday.

Why it matters: Ridge, who also served under George W. Bush as the first secretary of Homeland Security, said this would be his first time casting a vote for a Democratic candidate for president. He's now the third Republican former governor from a swing state to endorse Biden and reject Trump — joining John Kasich from Ohio and Rick Snyder from Michigan.

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