Return to Transcripts main page


CNN's Live Coverage Of Joe Biden's Speech. Joe Biden Attacks President Trump In His Speech. Joe Biden, Trump Has Failed America; Biden Makes His Case This Is A Life-Changing Election; Biden's Ticket to Presidency, Decency, Science And Democracy. DNC Gives Us Confidence Biden Can Campaign In A New Way. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 20, 2020 - 23:00   ET



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: To be a light in the world once again and finally to live up and make real the words written in the sacred documents that founded this nation. That all men and women are created equal. Endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

You know, my dad was an honorable, decent man. He got knocked down a few times pretty hard. But he always got back up. He worked hard, and he built a great middle-class life for our family. He used to say, Joey, I don't expect the government to solve my problems, but I sure in hell expect team the understand them.

And then he would say, Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about your dignity. It's about respect. It's about your place in the community. It's about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, honey, it's going to be OK, and mean it. I've never forgotten those lessons.

That's why my economic plan is all about jobs, dignity, respect, and community. Together we can and will rebuild our economy. And when we do we'll not only build back, we'll build back better. With modern roads, bridges, highways, broadband, ports, and airports as a new foundation for economic growth.

With pipes that transport clean water to every community. With 5 million new manufacturing and technology jobs so the future is made in America. With a health care system that lowers premiums, deductibles, drug prices. By building on the Affordable Care Act he's trying to rip away.

With an education system that trains our people for the best jobs of the 21st Century. There's not a single thing American workers can't do. And where cost doesn't prevent young people from going to college and student debt doesn't crush them when they get out.

With a childcare and elder care system that makes it possible for parents to go to work and for the elderly to stay in their homes with dignity. With an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values. And with newly empowered labor unions. They're the ones that built the middle class.

With equal pay for women. With rising wages, you can raise a child on, a family on. And yes, we're going to do more than praise our essential workers. We're finally going to pay them. Pay them.

We can and we will deal with climate change. It's not only a crisis, it's an enormous opportunity, an opportunity for America to lead the world in clean energy and create millions of new good-paying jobs in the process. And we can pay for these investments by ending loopholes -- unnecessary loopholes, and the president's $1.3 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1 percent, and the biggest, most profitable corporations, some of which do not pay any tax at all, because we don't need a tax code that rewards wealth more than it rewards work.

I'm not looking to punish anyone. Far from it. But it's long past time the wealthiest people and the biggest corporations in this country paid their fair share.

And for our seniors, Social Security is a sacred obligation, a sacred promise made. They paid for. The current president is threatening to break that promise. He's proposing to eliminate a tax that pays for almost half the Social Security without any way of making up for that lost revenue, resulting in cuts.

I will not let that happen. If I'm your president, we're going to protect Social Security and Medicare. You have my word.

One of the most powerful voices we hear in the country today is from our young people. They're speaking to the inequity and injustice that has grown up in America. Economic injustice, racial injustice, environmental injustice. I hear their voices, if you listen, you can hear them, too.

And whether it's the existential threat posed by climate change, the daily fear of being gunned down in school, or the inability to get started in your first job, it will be the work of the next president to restore the promise of America to everyone. And I'm not going to have to do it alone because I'll have a great vice president at my side.


Senator Kamala Harris, she's a powerful voice for this nation. Her story is the American story. She knows about all the obstacles thrown in the way of so many in our country, women, Black women, Black Americans, South Asian-Americans, immigrants, the left out and the left behind.

But she has overcome every obstacle she has ever faced. No one has been tougher on the big banks and the gun lobby. No one has been tougher in calling out the current administration for its extremism, its failure to follow the law, its failure to simply tell the truth.

Kamala and I both draw from our families. That's where we get our strength. For Kamala it's Doug and their families, for me it's Jill and ours. I've said many times, no man deserves one great love in his life, let alone two, but I've known two. After losing my first wife in that car accident, Jill came in my life. She put our family back together.

She's an educator, a mom, a military mom, an unstoppable force. If she puts her mind to it, just get out of the way. She's going to get it done. She was a great second lady, and I know she'll make a great first lady for this nation. She loves this country so much.

And I'll always have the strength that can only come from family. Hunter, Ashley, all our grandchildren, my brothers, my sister. They give my courage. They lift me up. While he's no longer with us, Beau inspires me every day.

Beau served our nation in uniform. A year in Iraq, a decorated Iraqi War veteran. I take very personally, and I have the profound responsibility of serving as commander-in-chief. I'll be a president that will stand with our allies and friends and make it clear to our adversaries the days of cozying up to dictators is over.

Under President Biden, America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers. Nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise, voting. And I'll always stand for our values of human rights and dignity. I'll work with a common purpose for a more secure, peaceful, and prosperous world.

History, history has thrust one more urgent task on us. Will we be the generation that finally wipes out the stain of racism from our national character? I believe we're up to it. I believe we're ready.

Just a week ago yesterday was the third anniversary of the events in Charlottesville. Close your eyes, remember what you saw on television. Remember seeing those neo-Nazis and Klansmen and white supremacists, coming out of fields with lighted torches, veins bulging, spewing the same antisemitic bile heard across Europe in the '30s. Remember the violent clash that ensued between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.

And remember what the president said when asked. He said there were, quote, "very fine people on both sides."

That was a wakeup call for us as a country and for me a call to action. At that moment I knew I'd have to run. Because my father taught us that silence was complicity, and I can never remain silent or complicit. At the time I said we were in a battle for the soul of this nation, and we are.

You know, one of the most important conversations I've had this entire campaign, it was with someone who was much too young to vote. I met with 6-year-old Gianna Floyd the day before her daddy, George Floyd, was laid to rest. She's an incredibly brave little girl. And I'll never forget it, when I leaned down to speak to her, she looked in my eyes and she said and I quote, "Daddy changed the world." Daddy changed the world.

[23:10:04] Her words burrowed deep into my heart. Maybe George Floyd's murder was a breaking point. Maybe John Lewis's passing the inspiration. But however it has come to be, however it has happened, America is ready, in John's words, to lay down, quote, "the heavy burden of hate" at last, and then the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism.

You know, American history tells us that it has been in our darkest moments that we've made our greatest progress, that we found the light. In this dark moment, I believe we're poised to make great progress again, that we can find the light once more.

You know, many people have heard me say this, but I've always believed you can define America in one word, possibilities. The defining feature of America, everything is possible. That in America, everyone, and I mean everyone should be given an opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them. We can never lose that.

In times as challenging as these, I believe there's only one way forward, as a united America, a united America. United in our pursuit of a more perfect union. United in our dreams of a better future for us and for our children. United in our determination to make the coming years bright.

Are you ready? I believe we are.

This is a great nation. We're a good and decent people. For lord's sake, this is the United States of America. There has never been anything we've been unable to accomplish when we've done it together.

The Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote: "History says, don't hope on this side of the grave, but then once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme."

This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme, with passion and purpose. Let us begin, you and I together, one nation, under God, united our love for America, united in our love for each other. For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear, and light is more powerful than dark.

This is our moment. This is our mission. May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness begin here. Tonight. As love and hope and light join in the battle for the soul of the nation. And this is a battle we will win, and we'll do it together. I promise you.

Thank you and may God bless you, and may God protect our troops. Good night.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Truly blistering attack against the current president of the United States by the former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee. He really went after the president. We have been told by some of his aides that this was going to be a speech mostly outlining what he would do as president and leave it to others to go after the current president, but Joe Biden certainly went after President Trump. He said we will overcome this season of darkness in America. He said

now our history has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments in American history right now. He says this is a time of real peril as we see the two couples there on the stage socially distanced right now. But Joe Biden really, really -- he explains some of the things he was going to do on economic policy and national security policy.

But he really spent a lot of time, a lot of time going after the current president of the United States. Jake, this was a moment for Joe Biden, the most important speech of his political career, and he was powerful in doing it.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: He said President Trump failed at his number one responsibility, which is protecting the American people. And he said that was unforgivable. I've heard Joe Biden give, I don't know, dozens, hundreds of speeches over the years. I have to say this was one of the best if not the best performance I've ever seen.

Also kind of underlining a mistake, a tactical mistake by the Trump campaign to set expectations so low, suggesting that Joe Biden is not capable of giving a speech like this meant that he would naturally exceed expectations.

You know, Wolf, you and I have covered presidential races for a long time, and one of the things you notice when you go on the campaign trail when the country is not in the middle of a deadly pandemic is how many people come to events for candidates who are in desperate need of something. I remember in 1999 and 2000 seeing all the Vietnam veterans who were happy to be recognized when Senator John McCain was running and the people who had issues related to veterans there. And it can be very moving the people who come to campaign events.

And one of the things that really stands out in this campaign and especially with Joe Biden's speech and the speech that performed -- that preceded it from Brayden Harrington, the little boy, the 13-year- old with the stutter is how much empathy Joe Biden not only is able to project but how much he legitimately has.

And I can't think, Dana Bash, of any matchup in modern American history where the gap between the two candidates on the issues of empathy and decency is so wide than between President Trump and Joe Biden.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The gap is so big on so many issues and on personalities and personas. You're absolutely right. So many things struck me, but one of the things that I notice were the bookends of light versus darkness. That's how the former vice president started saying that he wants to be and America should be an ally of the light, not the darkness.

And that's how he ended, saying that he ended -- that they should end the chapter of American darkness and begin to move toward the light. And what you're seeing right now is Joe Biden and Jill Biden moving outside in this incredibly different moment of celebration. They're outside basically with the tailgaters because that's how

they've pledged to do it, to do anything with people crowded around. To do it in a safe way, the safest way that they could possibly make that happen. So, you know, this is just a cap to an incredibly different night and, but look what we have, guys? We've got the fireworks.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You see here just a completely different kind of celebration for a political convention. People outside wearing masks, socially distant, but this is what we have to do in the year 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic, at the end of a week of festivities that are usually the biggest political event every four years for political parties.

Now it's being celebrated in Wilmington, Delaware, with the nominee -- the Democratic nominee, the Democratic vice presidential nominee standing outside with their spouses masked up looking at fireworks with the crowd really at a far distance. And for Joe Biden this moment is the culmination of a 48-year career, 33 years after he first ran for president. He is now the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

BLITZER: And as the fireworks continue in Wilmington, Delaware, I'm just reminded of one sentence that Joe Biden said. The choice could not be clearer. The choice between him and the current president of the United States (inaudible) Trump. But he kept speaking of the current president, the current occupant the president, but he never said the word Trump. Anderson, it was truly indeed and I agree with Jake, it may have been the best speech that Joe Biden ever delivered.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, I've seen a number and heard a number of remarkable speeches by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, obviously former President Obama, Michelle Obama and a number of others in this kind of an extraordinary end to this convention unlike any convention we've seen before. We didn't know what it would look like, how it would work, if it would work.


Clearly a lot did, some things didn't. But it's for anybody who grew up going to drive-in movies in the summer this is certainly kind of a throwback to going to the old drive-in, and obviously fireworks is something that they knew that they could do and still remain socially distant and the sense of energy and excitement which is difficult obviously to capture inside. Gloria Borger, David Axelrod, Nia-Malika Henderson, are all watching along with us. Gloria, your thoughts?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, to me I agree with you. I think this may be the best speech Joe Biden has ever delivered. It wasn't a convention speech written for applause lines. It was a presidential address, even kind of a fireside chat. And what struck me about Joe Biden, and I think the convention has been building up to that is the optimism in his words.

And I was struck -- and you know Joe Biden's a fan of Irish poets. And I was struck when he quoted Seamus Heaney, and there's a line he quotes a lot. And he was talking about the moment in American history or just this moment when hope and history rhyme. And I think that is exactly the way he thinks of it and the way his campaign thinks of it and the way he thinks of his run for the presidency.

He didn't want to run again. As he told you Charlottesville was something that made him decide at the age of 77 he needed to run. And he sees this as a moment that history calls him for, and that is when hope and history rhyme. And I thought it was remarkable. I kind of expected him to start reciting the poem, but I know it's in his head constantly. And so I believe this was the speech that he was supposed to give at this convention tonight.

COOPER: David Axelrod?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I -- look, I said earlier that the test was would he -- as much how he presented the speech as the words he spoke -- the words he spoke were powerful and they were strong. The way he delivered it was -- was more than met the moment. You know, what struck me was that he didn't look like a guy who was reading a speech.

He looked like a president speaking to the country. He owned those words. It was clear he felt those words. He expressed confidence. He brought the indictment against Trump, but he spoke with confidence about the way forward and gave, I think, people watching the confidence that he had the energy and the vision to take them for.

And he also delivered on what Van Jones mentioned earlier, on that populous economic message that was so important for people across this country to hear, and I think that will have great political benefit to him.

But more than anything else Joe Biden showed up, looked like a guy who was eager to be president, ready to be president, ready to lead this country out of this moment, and he desperately needed to do that here. This was the big test. He passed it. He's got debates ahead of him. There are four big test, this and three debates. Well, he passed this one with flying colors.

COOPER: Nia-Malika Henderson, again, just watching this and it's really just such an extraordinary scene of sort of coming up with a way to do something in the midst of a pandemic.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And they did it. I mean, this kind of tableau of these candidates, a vice presidential nominee, a historic figure at this point and Joe Biden there in the middle of that crowd that's cheering him on in the state that launched his political career.

I thought his speech, I thought he nailed it tonight opening with that elevator quote, give light and people will find a way was extraordinary. I think a lot of progressives are going to be happy that he shouted out Ella Baker in this speech and rolled that idea throughout the entire speech he gave. It was very conversational. He's very relax.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please pray with me. God, you have been a refuge for us --


COOPER: We continue the conversation. Van Jones, Scott Jennings, Andrew Yang. Van, let's start with you.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. That sound that you hear all across the country is the sound of Democrats exhaling. That's what that is. People would have accepted anything. We just wanted Joe to get out there. So, you know, sometimes when he gets up there you're afraid he's going to make a mistake, he's going to have a gaffe, the expectation is just so low.

And then he came out there and he gave an extraordinary speech. Listen, first of all, it's very tough just to do the biography. It's very tough to do policy, very tough to do attack and contrast, almost impossible to do all three well. He did all three well, and it was authentic. It was an extraordinary speech.


And we were prepared for it to be a terrible speech. As long as he didn't embarrass himself we were going to come out here and praise him. You don't have to make anything up tonight. Joe Biden did that thing tonight. Unbelievable. Unbelievable.

COOPER: Governor?


JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I completely agree with Van. I am the hard core fiercest partisan here. Like, if I could jump out of the chair, I mean, this is the best night for Joe Biden ever. Really this is so fantastic. People were complaining oh, it's so much about him, it's so -- you know, it's hard, all of that, we don't have any policy -- I counted. He listed 20 pieces of policy that he's going to be promising.

COOPER: It was in there.

GRANHOLM: But more -- it was all in there. But more important than that, this whole notion of the future and of forward looking and all the young people who were featured all through this convention, at the very beginning when people were asked to imagine what do I want to see next year. Everything is so hopeful. It's so positive. I'm just -- I am beyond words thrilled.


COOPER: Andrew Yang, you've heard a lot of speeches by Joe Biden.

YANG: Yes, and this was the best I've ever seen him. It felt like history has been pushing Joe forward for tonight. I said before that Donald Trump has been losing, and this convention is a chance for Joe and Kamala to start winning, and they are now on track to start winning in addition to Trump shooting himself in the foot.

I said while I was watching Joe speak, I said Joe Biden is going to be our next president. Because there's so many Americans that just wanted to see Joe and Kamala meet that threshold, and they met it and surpassed it. I could not be happier for the country because we're on track to turn the page.

COOPER: Scott Jennings?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Before I comment on the Biden speech, I just -- I thought the star of the night was Brayden Harrington.

COOPER: Oh, my gosh, thank you for saying that.

JENNINGS: He's the 13-year-old boy who end up --

COOPER: Amen. That guy is incredible.

JENNINGS: Yes. He really was. I have a little boy who fights learning differences and I know how hard it is for kids of that age to give speeches to their class. Let alone on national television. And so, when I saw him I just thought that was the highlight of the night for me. In terms of political analysis. Biden made it through, you know, expectations were low.

They were set low by everyone, Trump and the Democrats, and so he made it. You know, he said what's on the ballot character, compassion, science and democracy is what's on the ballot. And so you can see this is not a policy-driven campaign. There's no platform. It is I'm a good guy --

GRANHOLM: That's not true. That is not true.

YANG: yes, I couldn't disagree more --


COOPER: Let him finish. Let him finish.


JENNINGS: Let him finish. That's the frame they want and it's frankly probably the frame that sets up best for them. So I think what you'll see the Republicans do next week is probably try to frame it in starkly different terms which is don't be fooled by the platitudes, look at the policies and look how they would change your life. So I think that's the contrast you're likely to see between the two conventions.

COOPER: Governor?

GRANHOLM: The huge contrast will be that Joe Biden has an entire comprehensive list of policies. I don't know where you were, Scott, when he was listing off health care, education that trains people through 21st century jobs, college debt, economic plan, build back better, $2 trillion, child care, education care, immigration, labor union -- I mean, he's the whole thing.

JENNINGS: I know, but you are saying those words out loud is not a plan. It's just saying things out loud. That's not a platform. It's just words.

GRANHOLM: No, but he's got it on his website. I mean, he's not going to read. No, it's on his website. And that's the whole point about this is that his words -- just let me finish this one second. His words -- the whole convention was leading up to the point is that he is a man of his word. He has made promises. They're in great detail on his website, and he will carry those out. That's what this was about. You cannot say he does not have a platform.

YANG: He literally invoked FDR and the new deal, which is exactly what we need to start digging our way out of this hole. And the new deal was the beginning of many of the bigger and most ambitious government programs that people rely onto this day like social security and Medicaid.

So to say that he was light on policy and long on values, I think that might have been true early on in his campaign as someone who ran against Joe when I was like when, you know, he seemed to be hammering the values and the soul, but tonight it was a very, very different speech that emphasized the need that we do need a new deal.


JONES: I just want to say if the big attack on Joe Biden now is that he just isn't wonky enough, we're in a very good position. And I'm going to tell you what he did is so hard to pull off. All the policies in there but you almost didn't notice it because it was so masterfully woven into the biography and the story and the values. It's hard to do that, man. Whoever wrote that speech needs to get a cookie and a hug and a flag and a puppy? That thing was crafted so well. And then it was delivered so well.

Here's the thing. You can't give a speech like that and not sound corny unless you believe it at the genetic level. He was speaking from the genetic level. Look, I worked with this guy in the White House and it's an honor, I'll never forget he believes that stuff. And it's not corny if you believe it. He believes it, and it was crafted beautifully and he delivered it beautifully. The knock on this, you didn't have enough piece in on the plate, this guy is in great shape tonight.

COOPER: Scott, do you expect -- I mean, President Trump next week to, you know, unveil an actual health care plan? I mean, he's not exactly a policy wonk and known for, you know, elaborating on policies, is he?

JENNINGS: No, he's not. I think they have a chance at the convention to lay out the stark differences and where the two parties would take the country. I think they're going to talk a lot about taxes. I think they are going to talk a lot about public safety, I think they are going to talk a lot about the unrest in the streets. I think they're going to talk a lot about what they would consider to be a radical agenda from the Democratic Party and how that would materially and negatively impact your life.

So, yes, I do think they're going to use policy as a device to change the conversation, because, yes, look, there's no question Joe Biden exudes empathy. You look at him, you look at Dr. Biden. They're clearly nice people. They're good people. They have empathy, and there is no way you can argue that. And so the conversation that the Republicans are going to have to have is we had a great rocking economy once, we got interrupted, but we can get back there again and their policies will not permitted.

JONES: Scott, they are going to have to go back to the drawing board though on the definition of Joe Biden. Listen. Tonight, I'm going to tell you right now, they are going back to the drawing board. The caricature of the bumbling old fool. They set this bar so low like you said, they are have to go back to the drawing board. If Joe Biden keeps doing that he is going to be president of the United States.

COOPER: Let's go back to Wolf.

GRANHOLM: And there's a huge --

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting. I agree that Brayden Harrington, that little 13-year-old boy he spoke for less than two minutes but it was so moving, so powerful. We should all salute what he did. It was really incredible. You know, the biggest issue facing the country right now, coronavirus, more than 170,000 Americans are dead over these past few months. A thousand Americans are dying a day, and Biden said our current president has failed to protect us, this is unforgivable.

And the coronavirus, Jake, is going to affect where he goes from here. How does he go forth and campaign over these next few months leading up to November 3rd and the presidential election? It's going to be a big challenge for the former vice president now the Democratic presidential nominee.

TAPPER: It's a big challenge and its big open question because obviously coronavirus has changed everything about this race. If President Trump and his administration had had the kind of response to this pandemic that other wealthy western countries have had and gotten control of it and controlled the spread of it, then perhaps Joe Biden would be in a much more vulnerable position, although I still think the race is going to tighten quite a bit.

Abby, one of the things that I was struck by in Biden's presentation, and let's be honest even though he's a familiar face, most Americans haven't sat through Joe Biden's speech from beginning to end before. Still after tonight most Americans still will not have sat through a Joe Biden speech from beginning to end.

But one of the things that's struck me about this convention and about this speech is, that's Joe Biden. That wasn't Joe Biden pretending to be a member of a young progressive group. That wasn't woke Joe Biden. That was Joe Biden talking about how he's going to be an American president working as hard for people who voted against him as he will for people who vote for him.

It's not necessarily a message that traditionally one would think would be of this era. Although, Abby, I have to say it's possible that that will be enough to get moderate voters and the fact that he's not Trump will be enough to get progressive voters. But I don't know. What do you think?

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, you're absolutely right. That is Joe Biden. What you see it is what you get. He has been that kind of politician really since the beginning even going back -- if you go back to his first presidential run. He is running essentially as a sort of middle of the road type of candidate and somebody who as you saw in his remarks but also in the videos that preceded it.


His calling card is being able to bring people together from across the aisle. So that is how he is running, and I'll tell you there has been a lot of push back on that. You know, you heard Scott earlier tonight talking about where's the policy. The Biden campaign, yes, they've got policies but they are not running on this idea of having bullet point plans.

And a lot of that has to do with their belief that what the American people are looking for is a change of tone, a change of strategy, competency. You heard him say on the ballot in November character, compassion, decency and democracy that in a nutshell is the Biden platform, Dana. So, you know, I think that this is different kind of speech, but it is all Joe Biden. And he hasn't really changed even for this moment that seems to be changing around us.

BASH: You're absolutely right. And look, Hillary Clinton tried that. She had lots of policies, very, very detailed policies. Again, not that Joe Biden doesn't, but she led with that in a big way. And going up against Donald Trump who makes people feel things, you know, in their gut either really good or really bad that is not necessarily the way to beat him and to take him -- to fire him from the White House.

The one thing that -- and this is something Wolf brought up right away that really struck me is that we had heard that the former vice president was not going to really go after Donald Trump. Boy, did he go after Donald Trump.


BASH: He didn't say his name, but he didn't have to. And he really led with the pandemic, which is obvious. And then everything that's trickled down from that including and especially the economic woes which were so bad already for people who are not in the 1 percent, and that's the argument that the Democrats have made since the beginning of the primaries.

But he went so much further than that. He basically said if you don't vote for me, if you re-elect Donald Trump people are going to keep dying by the thousands a day. He didn't use a number, but that is what he was implying. And can you imagine anything more powerful than that?

I mean, obviously people are looking at this through partisan lenses for the most part. But for those who aren't and are really looking for a reason to say yes to Joe Biden and no to Donald Trump, perhaps that was enough.

TAPPER: Well, and that's I think the larger point here is that when Joe Biden said it didn't have to be this way, that's what every health expert says about the pandemic and how the United States with 4 percent of the world's population has 25 percent of the world's cases and more than 20 percent of the world's deaths according to official numbers.

That's what every health expert says. It didn't have to be this way. The Trump administration just as a matter of fact and a matter of opinion of health experts has not handled the coronavirus pandemic as well as other western wealthy countries. And everybody in it country sees it.

Now, of course there are a bunch of people who are in the president's face who blame it entirely on China or, you know, look at individual Governors responses in Democratic leaning states and say, well, it's that Governor or that Governor. But we all know that this pandemic has rocked everything and really thrown a curve ball into this election.

And I think no matter what like Joe Biden obviously is a very empathetic person, and President Trump does not convey empathy, and he's a decent seeming guy, and President Trump struggles with that. But beyond that the very fact that these -- that we're having the convention this way, that Joe Biden's speaking to an empty auditorium, that afterwards he has to go out to a drive-in theater type situation and they're all wearing masks.

And that President Trump no matter how much he wanted to be different and how much he wants a larger crowd we're just not living in that world. That is the biggest advertisement that Joe Biden has in his favor, the fact that we're living in this dystopia because the Trump administration has not handled the pandemic adequately, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, the challenge is going to be next week at the Republican convention for President Trump to do some of what we saw the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden do tonight. For example, socially distance, wearing a mask, going outside. Setting the scene the country is in a crisis right now in this pandemic as I said killing more than a thousand Americans every single day.


And when Joe Biden says this president doesn't have a plan, he basically can't handle it, he has failed to protect us, and that is unforgivable, the challenge will be next week to see what exactly the current president of the United States says and does. Will we see him wearing a mask? Will they go outside? Will they socially distance? That remains to be seen, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, and really it also remains to be seen what the president actually says about the deaths of Americans at this convention. The only time I've heard him mention the number of American dead is when he was making -- trying to make fun of Kamala Harris for saying 150,000 because her speech was pre-taped. When by the time it actually aired -- excuse me, Michelle Obama said that it was already 170,000. So he correcting Michelle Obama that the death toll wasn't as low as she was saying it was. That's the only time I heard him actually even talked about the death toll recently.

BORGER: Right.

HENDERSON: Right. And oftentimes he has talk about it, he says it is what it is. This death toll and that's something that of course has come up a few times at his convention with Michelle Obama echoing that phrase in this speech you saw Joe Biden talking about his own loss and trying to relate to those folks out there who had lost loved ones and were dealing with the impact of this terrible pandemic that has taken so many Americans' lives.

So, you saw Joe Biden, I think do what Donald Trump cannot do. He also had this line I think that is sort, you know is a framing for this. If he is given four more years he will be what he has been for the last four years. So, if you like what you have seen so far from Donald Trump, somebody who stokes racial divisions, then you should vote for him again.

But if you think the country needs somebody different, somebody who wants to tackle racism as Joe Biden talked about in this speech, you choose Joe Biden. You know, I agree with Scott Jennings that this is going to be a campaign just fought in this kind of bold way. The contrast could not be more bright, I think for people.

We have seen this president over the last four years, and listen, Republicans, white Americans certainly still support him by and large. And so Joe Biden has got to figure out a way to make them feel like the things that offend them actually affects them, right? You know, him being so un-empathetic with people actually affects them, because that is what we've seen with this COVID pandemic.

COOPER: Go ahead.

BORGER: What was so interesting to me is you look at this whole convention. You say, OK, they wanted to talk about the experiences in Joe Biden's life, lead that to talk about his values, what values that has given them and take that to policy and to the future. And I think tonight he wrapped that up.

And one thing that really struck with me was the lack of grievance in this speech. Here's a man, he said you can choose a path of anger, but it was clear he didn't want to do that. And as we all know from learning about his life during this convention he could have chosen a path of anger. I mean he lost his wife, his young child, he lost his adult son, and instead he did not choose the path of anger and grievance.

COOPER: And not only grievance, you didn't hear whining which is what we are (inaudible).

BORGER: No whining. And in fact, Anderson, he said at one point, look. When he was talking about the wealthy paying their fair share. He said, look, I'm not here to punish anyone. I don't want to punish you. I just want to lift other people up. That's all I want to do. And so he talked about work and dignity. He talked about this being a life changing election.

But there wasn't whining about the other guy as you point out. He criticized him on the pandemic, but it was a completely different approach from a podium that we have been -- I'm used to hearing for the past few years. And so I just think the contrast is going to be completely stark here for the American public.

COOPER: David?

AXELROD: Yes, I'm interested to see how President Trump adjusts to the reality of a convention like this. Joe Biden gave a very intimate in some ways talk with the American people tonight, very authentic, very optimistic at the end.

And Donald Trump thrives on the crowd. For him a speech is like a roman colosseum, and he needs that roar of the crowd. He needs that affirmation. And his is a politics of resentment. It doesn't resolve positively. It is a politics of resentment. How does that work in a kind of, you know, virtual environment?


I think it's going to be really challenging. We've never seen him do particularly well giving remarks in front of the camera without a crowd in front of him. I think it's going to be really tough for him. I have to say I've been involved in 11 conventions now either as a journalist or I help craft a couple of them. I don't think any was as effective or impactful from start to finish as this one.

Yes, you lost something without the crowd at points but I actually think the major speeches were far more powerful and impactful because there was no crowd there. They weren't searching for applause lines. They were actually fireside chats with the American people. Joe Biden proved himself capable of doing that tonight. We'll see what Donald Trump does with that next week.

COOPER: It's also even just interesting to see the awkwardness of you know, those cut away shots or when the speech stops and the person is standing there and left to their own devices, do they act naturally and do what they would naturally do, or are they frozen by indecision, and it's sort of interesting to see that as sort of telling in one way or another. I don't see a convention going back to the way it was. I see it being mix of some live events and things like this.

HENDERSON: Particularly the roll call.

BORGER: I think you get to know the candidates better. You know, you really know, you really saw Joe Biden tonight. COOPER: Now that the convention is over, will Joe Biden hit the

campaign trail? We'll tell you what we are learning after a quick break.



COOPER: Joe Biden making the speech of his life tonight closing the Democratic convention. Jeff Zeleny is learning what is next for the campaign. Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson I'm standing just a few feet away from Joe Biden has he took his mask off and smiled a bit and exhaled. It's clear that the 74-day stretch begins now. And talking to some of his campaign advisers they'll be frank in saying they do not know exactly what this campaign trail is going to look like, but they say this.

They say this convention, this very unconventional convention has given them new confidence that they can campaign in a new way. What they mean by that is that drive-in movie theater you saw, you can see the final cars leaving here they had those in cities across the country. Tonight the convention was about organizing. This campaign is going to look entirely different for the next 2.5 months. They do not believe that it is likely that Joe Biden could ever hit the traditional campaign trail again.

Normally after a convention like this, you would go on a road, a bus tour, a boat tour, a train tour, sometimes all three. John Kerry the last Democrats to run against the sitting the president, he went on a 20-state tour after his convention and lost. So senior advisers believe that this virtual convention has given them a new way to campaign. We saw the roll call vote a couple of nights ago.

They believe that through things like that they can reach a new audience. So they are leaving this convention in certainly high spirit. We'll find out next week. Of course Republicans are holding their convention largely in Washington, largely at the White House. That will be a chance for them to draw a contrast. But for now Joe Biden does not have any travel plans on his schedule. He's going back home in a just a short away here in Wilmington. Anderson?

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks very much. I appreciate it. Let's go back to our analysts. Excuse me, Andrew Yang, what do you -- how do you think the campaign moves forward? I mean, as Jeff said normally it would be, you know, get on a bus.

YANG: I was thrilled with the convention as a whole because let's face facts none of us really knew how this was going to shakeout and filling 8 hours of prime time programming was a monumental challenge. I was part of the convention and I didn't know how it was going to play out. But did everything work, no, but you had consistent themes and compelling moments and speakers every night. And together you had a coherent vision for what the future of the country can be. So, I think Joe and his team are going to get a little bit of rest

right now because they deserve it. I think this convention had a lot of lifting to do, and they pulled it off. And now the question is what the impact will be. But if I were any part of that team like they deserve a break and a good pat on the back, because it was an extraordinary job.

COOPER: Governor?

GRANHOLM: Yes, I think they're so -- this pandemic means that you have to campaign in a creative way. It's so, I think, going to be actually easier on the candidate because there's less wear and tear from travel and the relentlessness of campaigning on the ground. It also means that you empower your organizers all across the country to be creative in how you get out the vote and make people enthused.

There's one thing, though, I just wanted to mention looking forward to the Republican convention. I'm super interested in this contrast. Will Donald Trump have any rivals like Mitt Romney or any never Trumpers? Will we have any Democrats speaking for him? Will he have stories by these people about his kindness?

COOPER: I don't think he's going to have Mitt Romney speaking.

GRANHOLM: Well, I know -- will there be any efforts?

COOPER: I'm no expert, but I can tell you that.

GRANHOLM: No, no. I'm sure that's true. I'm asking sort of rhetorically because of course, the Democrats have this huge tent and Joe Biden was extremely generous with all his rivals for the nomination to be able to let them have their say and consequently you see this united party. I don't know you're not going to see any of that, and will there any real demographic representation in this convention? So, I'll be looking forward to seeing that.

JONES: Well, let me say, before -- stop before you say it, let me say it. You're going to see a lot of demographic representation and diversity. You know when they show a Republican convention they'll be like 98 percent white and they'll be like four or five black people and they'll show them the whole time? Those four or five people of color are going to be a big part of this digital convention I promise you. So don't expect it to be --


COOPER: Do you think diamond and silk will be there?

JONES: What'd you say?

COOPER: Do you think diamond and silk could be there? Could they book the two?

YANG: Anderson, I just want to pull that there's a difference between campaigning hard and campaigning smart and the John Kerry example is one. And I was a candidate, and there's a tendency for the team to be like go, go, go, grind, grind, grind. But I think it's going to be much more important for Joe to campaign smart and during this pandemic the American people will appreciate it. He's got three debates to prepare for and those are going to be the biggest opportunities for either side.

COOPER: Scott, I want to hear from you and then we've got to go.

JENNINGS: Yes. Of course, look. There are going to hear some diverse faces at the Republican Convention. I think you are going to hear some compelling personal stories.

JONES: There will be.

JENNINGS: And I think some of those are going to be related to issues that you even worked on with the White House, Van. So I'm looking forward to hearing that. I do want to say on a note of fairness on the policy issue. I know we had our round robin on it. In fairness to what I said earlier, Donald Trump has actually been asked this question in major media interviews twice, what is your second term agenda and he actually whiffed it twice.

And so, for as much as I criticize, this convention are being light on policy. It should be noted but that's what puts the pressure on the RNS convention next week to tell the American people what policy contrast will get us back to normal and get the economy humming like it was before. We cannot -- with the third time and so -- to me, that's vital.

COOPER: Guys. Van quickly.

JONES: Got it. OK, look, I just want to say, I think the formula has been crack in terms of you can put a lot of people out there not just Biden. Not just Biden tonight.

COOPER: Democrats had their say. Next week is Republican's turn, our special live coverage begins Monday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. There's much more ahead right now on what we heard tonight from Joe Biden, Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon pick up our coverage after the break.