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Democrats Hold A Shadow Convention In Cleveland Near RNC Location

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's hear a Democratic response to this week's Republican convention here in Cleveland. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra is on the line. He's the highest-ranking Latino member of Congress. Good morning, sir.

XAVIER BECERRA: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

INSKEEP: Glad you could join us. What did you think of last night's speech by Mr. Trump?

BECERRA: Vintage Donald Trump - although I must say, it was fairly loud, long and angry.

INSKEEP: Loud, long and angry and also painting a dark picture of the country. But let's face it, he also was talking about a lot of real events. The Middle East is in chaos. Police officers have been shot in some high-profile incidents in the United States. Is there some truth to what he said?

BECERRA: Certainly, there was some truth to what he said. But certainly there was quite a bit that fact-checkers will have a field day with. And I would really question some of his representations of the facts when it came to Benghazi, when it comes to the way we deal with our economy and who's really the culprit in why so many Americans are having a tough time.

INSKEEP: You don't think he's identifying the right culprit - what do you mean?

BECERRA: Well, I think he's pointing the finger, which he's done very well throughout this entire campaign and which I think, to some degree, gets him support from Americans who really want to know why they're having such a tough time. Some of these Americans used to be in the middle class. Now they're struggling very hard. And they're looking for answers, and they want them to be straightforward.

And Donald Trump is feeding them something which, to some degree, points out some of the problems. But his prescriptions, I think, are really off base. And now that he is the official nominee, I think it's important for him - it's incumbent upon him, in fact - to now give us the how and the why of his responses because he always gives us just the superficial. Now it's time to scratch below the veneer.

INSKEEP: Congressman, what did you think when Donald Trump and other speakers last night reached out to groups that have been Democratic-leaning in the past? He made a reference to LGBTQ rights. His daughter Ivanka talked about the rights of women and talked about the concerns of working women. Do you see something genuine there?

BECERRA: Well, it could be because Donald Trump has been a Democrat, he's been a Republican and he's been just about everything. And it's unclear to know it - what he will be when he's president. But I certainly do appreciate that he talked about the LGBT community - sounded a little awkward when he talked about the LGBT community.

It sounded like he was - he wasn't quite sure how to pronounce or say those initials LGBTQ. He kept saying it that way (laughter). But the great thing is he was saying it. And the difficult part for him will be, he's got a whole bunch of colleagues in the Republican Party who aren't with him on that, including his vice president.

INSKEEP: Just a couple of seconds here. Do you think Democrats - you Democrats - know how to respond to this at your convention next week?

BECERRA: Oh, we do. We do and we will. And we're going to use fact, not opinion. Opinion is exactly that. And you can have your own opinions, but you can't have your own facts. And we'll make sure it's clear what the facts are.

INSKEEP: Congressman Xavier Becerra, Democratic representative from California, thank you very much.

BECERRA: Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.