Democratic National Convention 2020: Day 3

By Melissa Macaya, Kyle Blaine, Jessica Estepa, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0520 GMT (1320 HKT) August 20, 2020
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7:26 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Obama takes direct aim at Trump in excerpts released of DNC address

Former President Barack Obama address a townhall talk to discuss, among others, the future of Europe with young people on April 6, 2019 in Berlin.
Former President Barack Obama address a townhall talk to discuss, among others, the future of Europe with young people on April 6, 2019 in Berlin. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

The Democratic National Convention has released text excerpts of remarks coming tonight from former President Barack Obama.

In his remarks, Obama takes direct shots at President Trump, who he says has "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."

"I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president. I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care," Obama added.

Read more excerpts from Obama's speech tonight:

  • "Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before."
  • "I’m well aware that in times as polarized as these, most of you have already made up your mind. But maybe you’re still not sure which candidate you’ll vote for – or whether you’ll vote at all. Maybe you’re tired of the direction we’re headed, but you can’t yet see a better path, or you just don’t know enough about the person who wants to lead us there."
  • "So let me tell you about my friend Joe Biden. Twelve years ago, when I began my search for a vice president, I didn’t know I’d end up finding a brother. Joe and I came from different places and different generations. But what I quickly came to admire about him is his resilience, born of too much struggle; his empathy, born of too much grief. Joe’s a man who learned early on to treat every person he meets with respect and dignity, living by the words his parents taught him: 'No one’s better than you, but you’re better than nobody.'"
  • "Over eight years, Joe was the last one in the room whenever I faced a big decision. He made me a better president. He’s got the character and the experience to make us a better country."
  • "Tonight, I am asking you to believe in Joe and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of dark times and build it back better. But here’s the thing: no single American can fix this country alone. Democracy was never meant to be transactional – you give me your vote; I make everything better. So I am also asking you to believe in your own ability – to embrace your own responsibility as citizens – to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure."


7:36 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Harris will criticize Trump's "failure of leadership," saying it has "cost lives and livelihoods"

In live remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, set to take place later this evening, presumptive vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will sharply criticize President Trump, saying his administration has turned "our tragedies into political weapons," according to excerpts released by convention organizers.

"Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods," Harris will say in a portion of her speech.

"Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose," Harris adds.

The California senator will also use her speech to paint a picture of the country she and Biden hope to build together if they are elected in November.

"[I am] committed to the values she [my mother] taught me, to the word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight, and to a vision passed on through generations of Americans—one that Joe Biden shares," Harris will say. "A vision of our nation as a beloved community – where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love."

"A country where we may not agree on every detail, but we are united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity and respect. A country where we look out for one another, where we rise and fall as one, where we face our challenges, and celebrate our triumphs. Together," Harris continues.

Read more excerpts from her speech:

"We’re at an inflection point. The constant chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot.

And here’s the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more.

We must elect a president who will bring something different, something better, and do the important work. A president who will bring all of us together—Black, White, Latino, Asian, Indigenous—to achieve the future we collectively want.

We must elect Joe Biden."

Here is a portion of the video that will introduce Harris:

8:15 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Young activists will speak about gun violence and climate change tonight

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

Emma Gonzalez speaks during an interview, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Parkland, Florida.
Emma Gonzalez speaks during an interview, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Parkland, Florida. Wilfredo Lee/AP

Since Donald Trump’s election, young activists have led the charge in a number of protest movements. They walked out of school in protest of gun violence, striked from school to save the climate and took to the streets with calls for racial justice this summer. 

One in 10 eligible voters will be between the ages of 18 and 23 this November, according to the Pew Research Center. Tonight, young leaders from both the gun violence prevention movement and the climate justice movement will take the virtual stage at the Democratic National Convention.

Emma Gonzalez, 20-years-old and a survivor of the 2018 Parkland school shooting, will introduce a section of tonight’s program focused on ending gun violence. The section will feature other gun violence prevention advocates including Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who was shot and wounded in a 2011 mass shooting.

Gonzalez is one of the co-founders of March For Our Lives, the youth-led gun violence prevention organization founded in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. Gonzalez, who was a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the time, famously called “BS” in an address to lawmakers and gun advocates at a 2018 gun control rally just days after the shooting. Gonzalez's intro during the convention is expected to include audio from this 2018 speech.

Since then, Gonzalez and her peers at March For Our Lives have lobbied for gun control legislation, called out the National Rifle Association, and registered new voters with a cross-country bus tour in the summer of 2018.

Earlier this month, March For Our Lives put out an ad narrated by Gonzales, titled “Our Power,” which chronicles the rise of gun sales throughout the pandemic, and the way that Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color.

“Our power means we refuse to fear for our lives. We refuse to live without justice. It’s our power, and we will use it," Gonzalez says in the ad.

Tonight’s convention line-up will also feature a group of young climate activists. During the evening’s segment on climate change, these organizers are expected to talk about what’s at stake when it comes to their future, and what they want from Biden when it comes to climate action.

6:52 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Trump on Obama's speech tonight: "I wouldn't be here" if he and Biden did "a good job"

From CNN's DJ Judd 

President Trump was asked today to react to excerpts released ahead of former President Barack Obama's speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention. 

Here's what Trump said:

“Now, President Obama did not do a good job. And the reason I'm here is because of President Obama and Joe Biden, because if they did a good job, I wouldn't be here, and probably if they did a good job, I wouldn't have even run, I would have been very happy, I enjoyed my previous life very much, but they did such a bad job that I stand before you as President.”

Trump took aim at the former president, telling reporters at an afternoon briefing, “when I look at what we have, and I look at how bad he was, how ineffective a president he was, he was so ineffective, so terrible, slowest growing recovery in the history, I guess since 1929, on the economy.”

5:54 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Obama will deliver DNC address from Philadelphia to underscore American Democracy

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica

Former President Barack Obama speaks at the opening of the Bits & Pretzels meetup on September 29, 2019 in Munich, Germany.
Former President Barack Obama speaks at the opening of the Bits & Pretzels meetup on September 29, 2019 in Munich, Germany. Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama will deliver his speech to the nation Wednesday night from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, a senior Democratic official tells CNN, with a location intended to underscore “our very democracy is at stake” in this election.

“He will make a pointed case that Democracy is on the line,” the senior Democratic official said, describing Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention as a “call to all Americans.”

The former president’s speech comes on the third night of the party’s gathering, which is being held virtually in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with speakers addressing the convention from key points across the country.

Obama plans to make an aspirational case for Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, aides say, in a speech that will outline their “experience and character to lead us out of the ongoing economic and health care disasters that the current administration has blundered into.”

He also teased his speech in a fundraising appeal on Wednesday, calling for the country to return to a time of normalcy after four tumultuous years.

“Folks, sixteen years ago, the first time I spoke at a Democratic convention, I asked a simple question,” Obama wrote in a letter to Democratic supporters. “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?”

For Obama, it’s his fifth speech at a Democratic National Convention. His first appearance was in 2004, when he delivered the keynote address in Boston, during his bid for the US Senate.

That address marked the beginning of his national rise as an Illinois state senator. Four years later, he accepted the party’s presidential nomination at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

But the speech on Wednesday night is the first of his post-presidency, with his own legacy on the line as he implores Americans to elect Biden and defeat President Trump.

The site of his address, which will be broadcast live directly before Harris’ speech, underscores the gravity of the election, the official said.


5:33 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Hillary Clinton's convention message: Don't take anything for granted with this president

From CNN's Dan Merica

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote speech during the American Federation of Teachers Shanker Institute Defense of Democracy Forum at George Washington University on September 17, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote speech during the American Federation of Teachers Shanker Institute Defense of Democracy Forum at George Washington University on September 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton, the only other Democrat to face President Trump in an election, will make a case on Wednesday that only she can personally make: Don’t take anything for granted with this president.

Clinton, appearing from her living room, will say that the country “deserves a better president” and argue that person is Joe Biden, a source familiar with the remarks tells CNN.

But, the overarching message in her speech will be that this election cannot be close and that Democrats must overwhelm Republicans in November because what Trump will do to win cannot be underestimated. 

It’s a message that Clinton is uniquely positioned to make. Democrats believed four years ago that the former secretary of state was on a path towards the presidency. But Clinton lost her bid for the presidency, crushing the party. The former secretary of state and Democratic nominee will argue that this election is too important to let that happen again.

In addition to policy, Clinton will speak about both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ human side.

“She talks a lot about the many levels on which she knows Joe,” the source said, including their work together in the Obama administration but also how they have been there for each other when family members have died, including Beau Biden in 2015.

Clinton will look to enlighten Harris' humanity, as well, the source said. While Clinton will talk about Harris’ “grit,” she will also look to tout her compassion by mentioning Tyrone Gayle, a Democratic spokesperson who worked for both Clinton and Harris before dying of colon cancer in 2018 at age 30. 

Clinton, the source said, will mention how Harris flew to New York to be with Gayle shortly before he died. Both the former secretary of state and California senator eulogized Gayle in 2018. 

Clinton will speak live for roughly 5-7 minutes, the source concluded.

5:05 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Harris' sister, niece, and stepdaughter will nominate her in virtual speeches

From CNN’s Jasmine Wright and Chris Boyette

Sen. Kamala Harris will be officially nominated by her sister Maya, niece Meena, and stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, tonight in virtual speeches, the Biden campaign announced via Twitter.

The Biden campaign’s deputy press secretary Matt Hill wrote, “Maya Harris, Meena Harris, and Ella Emhoff will deliver speeches tonight at the Democratic National Convention to officially nominate Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States.“

CNN reported Tuesday that Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, will be the only relative physically present during her acceptance speech in Wilmington, Delaware. 

Maya, Meena, and Ella are expected to speak after former President Barack Obama and before Harris, according to highlights of Wednesday evening’s agenda sent from the DNC.

4:55 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Harris wants "people to see themselves in her speech," aide says

From CNN’s MJ Lee, Arlette Saenz and Jasmine Wright

Democratic vice presidential running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, speaks during the first press conference with Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware, on August 12.
Democratic vice presidential running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, speaks during the first press conference with Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware, on August 12. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

As she’s set to deliver her acceptance speech as the first woman of color on a major party ticket this evening, Kamala Harris “hopes for people to see themselves in her speech,” a Biden-Harris campaign aide says, as she will talk about not just her own personal story but also the experiences of others.

Harris, a daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, has often spoken about both their experience in America and her own as a biracial woman. She’s often drawn upon the lessons she learned from her mother as well as her time at historically black college Howard University to explain her worldview.

The aide says Harris “will set out a vision for a more inclusive nation in which everyone is welcome and given equal opportunity and protection under the law.” 

She will also speak to the need to elect Joe Biden, the aide says, showcasing her running mate as “uniquely the leader for this moment” while “drawing a clear contrast with the failed leadership of Donald Trump.” 

During her presidential primary campaign, Harris often repeated the refrain she would “prosecute the case” against Trump and his administration.

4:27 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Pelosi to slam Trump's "disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is among tonight's primetime speakers, and is expected to deliver remarks following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Read excerpts from her speech:

  • “We come together again, not to decry the darkness, but to light a way forward for our country. That is the guiding purpose of House Democrats. We are fighting For The People.”
  • As Speaker, I’ve seen firsthand Donald Trump’s disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”