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Wake Up To Politics - August 20, 2020

It’s Thursday, August 20, 2020. Election Day is 75 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

DNC Night 3: Harris looks forward as Obama blasts Trump

California Sen. Kamala Harris formally became the first woman of color to join a major U.S. party ticket on Wednesday, as she accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination during the third night of the party’s virtual convention.  

“In this election, we have a chance to change the course of history,” Harris said in her remarks. She continued: “Let’s fight with conviction. Let’s fight with hope. Let’s fight with confidence in ourselves, and a commitment to each other, to the America we know is possible, the America we love.”

Harris’ address tied her family’s story, as a daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, to the story of Joe Biden’s, invoking his late son and her friend Beau, and to their shared vision of the nation. “Joe and I believe that we can build that Beloved Community, one that is strong and decent, just and kind,” she said. “One in which we all can see ourselves.”

The newly-minted vice-presidential nominee spoke just after former President Barack Obama, whose speech took on his successor Donald Trump in his most direct terms yet, a break from presidential tradition without much precedent in modern political history. “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” Obama stated bluntly, denouncing the state of the nation’s public health, economy, and democracy.

“For close to four years now,” Obama added of Trump, “he’s shown no interest in putting in the work, no interest in finding common ground, no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends, no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

Obama’s remarks were a stark contrast from the DNC speech that catapulted him to the national stage 16 years ago. In his 2004 convention speech, as a little-known state senator, he spoke about a “politics of hope” and rejected the idea of “red states and blue states.” In his return to the (virtual) convention stage Wednesday night, now among his party’s most popular figures and most celebrated orators, Obama painted a much darker picture of American democracy as it stands today.

“This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win,” Obama said, encouraging voters not to “let them take away your power.”

The third night of the Democratic convention was perhaps the most issue-heavy of the event so far; much of the first hour featured videos tying compelling stories to planks of Biden’s policy agenda. Speakers included former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, in her lengthiest remarks since being shot in the head in 2011, and 11-year-old Estela Juarez, reading a letter about the deportation of her mother.

Through these videos, a sketch of a potential Biden Administration’s top policy priorities — gun control, immigration reform, climate change — became apparent. Then came one of the party’s most policy-versed figures, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was known throughout her unsuccessful 2020 presidential primary campaign for her constant refrain, “I have a plan for that.”

“I love a good plan,” Warren said Wednesday, “and Joe Biden has some really good plans — plans to bring back union jobs in manufacturing and create new union jobs in clean energy, plans to increase Social Security benefits, cancel billions in student loan debt, and make our bankruptcy laws work for families instead of the creditors who cheat them.”

Warren was one of several women who participated in the third night, as themes of gender and racial equality took center stage. Another was 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who offered Democrats a reminder of her bruising loss four years ago. “This can’t be another woulda, coulda, shoulda election,” she told them.

The Rundown

President Trump offered praise for the extreme QAnon conspiracy theory on Wednesday. “I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” Trump said, adding that he didn’t know much else about the movement. When reminded by a reporter that followers of the theory believe Trump is “saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals,” the president responded: “Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?”

A devotee of the QAnon movement, Marjorie Taylor Greene, won the Republican nomination for a House seat in Georgia last week, notching President Trump’s support the next morning.

Congressional negotiators remain locked in a stalemate as they struggle to craft another coroanvirus relief package. According to the Wall Street Journal, Republicans have begun to circulate a new, narrower proposal that would “include $300 in weekly federal unemployment insurance through Dec. 27, establish legal protections for businesses and health-care facilities, provide $29 billion in health-care funding and $105 billion for schools and permit the U.S. Postal Service to not repay a $10 billion loan set up in a previous aid package.”

Talks have sputtered as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to budge from her insistence on a much larger stimulus bill totaling at least $2 trillion. However, some rank-and-file Democrats have begun to urge Pelosi to accept a more piecemeal approach, penning a letter to call on her to hold a vote on legislation that would reinstate the $600-a-week jobless benefits that expired in July.

Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, crossed party lines to endorse Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. “At the end of the day, this really isn’t about right or left,” Dent said in a CNN interview. “It’s about right or wrong.” Dent, who left Congress in 2018, offered his support to Biden in the same week as a string of Republicans spoke at the Democratic convention, including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

An ex-official in the Trump administration also called for the president’s re-election defeat on Tuesday, when former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor endorsed Biden as well.


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will host Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq at the White House today. Trump and Al-Kadhimi will hold a restricted bilateral meeting at 11:05 a.m. and an expanded bilateral meeting at 11:25 a.m.

Trump will then travel to Old Forge, Pennsylvania, to speak at a campaign event at 3 p.m. on “a half-century of Joe Biden failing America.” After returning to Washington, D.C., he will appear on Fox News’ “Hannity” in the 9 p.m. hour, shortly before Joe Biden is slated to accept the Democratic presidential nomination.

Vice President Mike Pence will join President Trump for his meetings with Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi. Later, he will lead a White House Coroanvirus Task Force meeting at 2 p.m.  

The House and Senate are on recess.

The Supreme Court is on summer recess.

The Democratic National Convention will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. for its fourth and final night. Former Vice President Joe Biden will accept the Democratic presidential nominee in the final speech of the night.

Other speakers will include several of Biden’s 2020 rivals (New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg), a trio of women from his vice-presidential shortlist (Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth), and other party figures such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Delaware Sen. Chris Coons.

The night, which will be emceed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, will also include performances from The Chicks (formerly known as the Dixie Chicks) and John Legend and Common.

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