Democratic Convention Live Blog, Day 3: Balancing Unity, Positivity and the Threat of Trump
8:50 p.m. PDT: That wraps up Truthdig’s coverage of Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention. Check back Thursday for live coverage of Day 4, when Hillary Clinton will speak. Also be sure to take a look at Truthdig contributor Sonali Kolhatkar’s video reporting from the convention, as well as photojournalist Michael Nigro’s daily dispatches.
8:46 p.m. PDT: Truthdig’s Bill Blum gives us his analysis of how the evening played out:
You didn’t need a crystal ball or a consult with the dearly departed Miss Cleo (the TV psychic who passed away today) to predict that the Clinton campaign would train its sights on Donald Trump on Day 3 of the Democratic convention.
Throughout a long day of speeches, videos and musical interludes that had the quality of an interminable variety show, Trump was lambasted by a deep bench of luminaries, ranging from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown to Vice President Joe Biden, VP nominee Tim Kaine, and President Barrack Obama. Collectively, they condemned Trump as a racist, a liar, a bully, a demagogue, a xenophobe, a scaremonger, a lunatic and a climate change denier.
My favorite zinger of the session was delivered by California’s Brown, who said that the “sheer ignorance” and “dark fantasy” of Trump and the Republicans exceeded even that of the Know Nothing Party of the 1850s. I also thought Biden’s jab that Trump has “no clue” about the middle class also rang true.
Did the effort succeed in hammering home the dangers that Trump poses to the body politic? Tactically speaking, I think it did, but in no small measure because the Democrats were the beneficiaries of a totally unforced and egregious error committed by Trump, who in a press conference earlier today urged the Russian government to release Hillary’s deleted emails.
Like an 8-year-old ADHD sufferer, Trump has little impulse control. And like a malignant narcissist, he can’t cede the limelight, even for a day, to his rival. With similar outbursts from The Donald as we approach November, Clinton will win the battle of the lesser evils.
And oh, by the way, as far as I could discern from watching TV, except for a late shout-out from Obama, the Sanders revolution was far removed from the festivities as the evening wore on. That’s yet another development you didn’t need a psychic to predict.
8:42 p.m. PDT: President Obama’s speech was a perfect balancing act in terms of all of the notes he had to hit. He criticized Donald Trump, made a case for Hillary Clinton, and encouraged the political fervor of Bernie Sanders supporters. He struck a line between optimism around where America is now and the threat of a Trump presidency.
“My time in this office, it hasn’t fixed everything,” Obama said near the end of his speech, reminding voters that Clinton is needed to carry on his legacy. “Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.”
As Obama prepares to walk off stage, Clinton herself comes out and hugs him, thrilling the audience.
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) July 28, 2016
8:36 p.m. PDT: “America isn’t about ‘Yes, he will,’ it’s about ‘Yes, we can’! And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall,” Obama says at the height of his speech. He then slows down and brings up the family values he was raised with and how the rest of America was raised on the same values. “Homegrown demagogues will always fail in the end,” Obama says.
8:21 p.m. PDT: “America is already great, America is already strong,” Obama states to an active crowd. Trump “isn’t offering any real solutions. He’s offering fear.” He also subtly critiques the neofascist elements of Trump’s campaign, noting, “We don’t look to be ruled.”
The President of the United States is literally making the case for democracy over authoritarianism. In 2016.
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 28, 2016
“Democracy works, America!” Obama passionately proclaims. He finally mentions Bernie Sanders supporters, noting that everyone needs to be as politically active as he or she was during primary season. “That’s right, feel the Bern,” Obama says. “We’ve all got to vote, not just for a president, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and attorneys, and state legislatures.” He elaborates on this theme of democratic action: “Democracy isn’t a spectator sport.”
8:16 p.m. PDT: When Obama mentions Trump by name, the audience boos. “Don’t boo,” Obama says, “vote!”
“People outside of the United States really don’t understand what’s going on with this election,” Obama says. “They really don’t.” He praises Clinton’s foreign policy experience and states that she will be able to lead the U.S. defeat of Islamic State.
8:12 p.m. PDT: Obama takes the audience back eight years, to when he was running against Hillary Clinton. He uses his classic humor at times but also sticks to the message: Clinton was a tough competitor, and he needed her on his team when he won.
“Her unbelievable work ethic isn’t for praise, it isn’t for attention,” Obama says. He essentially outlines, without mentioning Trump by name, how Clinton’s experience and temperament are more suitable for a president than her rival’s. Obama also throws some praise to Tim Kaine.
8:03 p.m. PDT: Sticking with the theme of positivity, Obama begins his speech by stating, “I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before.” He then explains the successes — progress on health care, clean energy, student debt, homelessness — of his own eight years in office, many of which had just been highlighted in the video. “By so many measures, our country is better and more prosperous than when we started,” he says. “Change is never easy, and never quick. Yes, we have more work to do.”
7:56 p.m. PDT: The video frames Obama’s time in office as one filled with hard choices. Although Obama has had much success throughout his presidency, the video highlights that there is more work left to be done on issues like gun control.
President Barack Obama takes the stage as the crowd shouts “Yes, we can!”
7:45 p.m. PDT: Sharon Belkofer, a mother of three soldiers from Ohio, takes the stage and explains what Obama’s presidency has meant to her. After one of her sons was killed in military action, Obama met her personally — and she says she wishes everyone could experience one of Obama’s hugs. After her speech, a video covering Obama’s legacy begins to play.
7:36 p.m. PDT: Kaine continues to use his bizarre “believe me” Trump impersonation while explaining Trump’s various inadequacies. After two days of little direct mention of the Republican candidate, it’s unsurprising that the Democrats have finally decided to fire back (especially after the GOP spent most of its convention attacking Clinton). It is impressive, however, that Kaine goes on for so long. As the presidential contest continues to heat up, it will be interesting to see if attacking Trump becomes one of Kaine’s main functions as Clinton’s running mate.
“Do you believe him?” Kaine asks the crowd about Trump. “No!” they shout back. This call and response continues several times.
He wraps up by going over the liberal political legacy that has preceded Clinton, perhaps the perfect setup for President Obama’s speech.
7:29 p.m. PDT: Tim Kaine is introduced by the slightly rushed-sounding Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia. A video emphasizing Kaine’s “working-class” start is shown to the crowd; it also highlights his long political work “based on the principle that we are stronger together.”
“I humbly accept my party’s nomination to be vice president of the United States,” Kaine says. He then goes on to explain how he came to be chosen as Clinton’s vice president: how he started from humble beginnings and how his Jesuit faith has always played an important role in his life. “Faith, family, and work,” he says in Spanish and then English.
Kaine notes that time he spent in Honduras introduced him to dictatorship and made him realize that everybody deserves a government focused on equality. But of course he soon dives into tackling the elephant in the room, saying, “If any of you are looking for that party of Lincoln, we’ve got a home for you right here in the Democratic Party!”
He also praises local-level politics, noting that this is how he got his start. He also mentions his time working with Bernie Sanders, causing some of the crowd to start chanting “Bernie!”
“We all should feel the Bern,” Kaine says, smiling, “and we all should not wanna get burned by the other guy!”
Kaine also focuses on the importance of loving one another, although “love” in this case once again means party unification. “It’s simple: Do all the good you can and serve one another,” Kaine explains. “That’s what I’m about, that’s what you’re about, that’s what Bernie Sanders is about … and that’s what Hillary Clinton is about.”
Kaine dives into why he supports Clinton. “First, she’s consistent,” he states, going over aspects of her political record.
Were you hoping Kaine would impersonate Trump? Because that’s exactly what happened next:
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 28, 2016
6:58 p.m. PDT: How did we not see this one coming? To really rile up the crowd, this celebrity-filled a cappella version of Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” is shown:
6:51 p.m. PDT: While Lenny Kravitz performs, here are some social media takeaways of the night so far:
I feel bad for doing this, but Joe Biden got a little fired up and when you’re fired up, you make faces. pic.twitter.com/mIKqlgj9wV
— Dr Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) July 28, 2016
Bloomberg isn’t arguing Clinton is a particularly inspiring choice for president, he’s saying that given the alternative there’s no choice.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) July 28, 2016
Today at the real Democratic convention: Standing ovation for John McCain, Mitt Romney featured in a video, speech from Michael Bloomberg.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) July 28, 2016
It’s anticipated that Tim Kaine, Clinton’s pick for vice president, will speak soon.
6:44 p.m. PDT: Kasim Reed, the Democratic mayor of Atlanta, follows Joe Biden to introduce Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg, formerly a New York City mayor, is a billionaire who has made headlines for being unaffiliated with any political party. The Clinton campaign probably hopes his presence will reassure business-oriented moderates.
Bloomberg explains that when he walks into a voting booth, he votes for a candidate, not a party. “There are times where I disagree with Hillary Clinton,” he says, but “we must put them aside for the good of our country. We must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”
He does indeed address the importance of a business-minded candidate and doesn’t shy away from critiquing Trump. “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he runs his business? God help us!” Bloomberg says. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.”
Interestingly, he calls Clinton “the responsible choice.” Bloomberg’s speech, although full of Trump insults, does have a heavy tone of “lesser evilism” that some have argued is not enough to convince them to vote for Clinton. Watch his full speech below:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 28, 2016
6:29 p.m. PDT: After Leon Panetta’s speech, which clearly riled up the entire crowd, Jill Biden took the stage to introduce her husband, Vice President Joe Biden. An extremely long video praising Biden’s many political achievements played, perhaps in an effort to unite the crowd over issues like the legalization of gay marriage and the fight against campus sexual assault.
Although some wondered about Biden’s attitude, considering that he came close to running for president this year, his speech began with praise for Obama’s eight years in office. Biden’s focus on Obama’s legacy is probably a precursor to Obama’s speech later tonight. Members of the crowd held up signs that simply read “Joe,” and they stood when Biden mentioned his son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015:
— Monica Alba (@albamonica) July 28, 2016
Turning his attention to a potential Clinton presidency, Biden notes the importance of gender equality and Clinton’s various attributes. Unlike Panetta’s before him, Biden’s speech stays mild and agreeable. He gets good-natured laughs from the crowd when he asks them not to boo or cheer so he can seriously explain the threat of Donald Trump.
“He’s trying to tell us he cares about the middle class? Give me a break, that’s a bunch of malarkey!” The crowd goes wild. “He has no clue, period.” The crowd begins to chant: “Not a clue! Not a clue!” Biden repeatedly attempts to set a solemn, patriotic tone, but the crowd tends to react with whoops and hollers every time Trump is put down.
“We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line!” Biden yelled to the excited crowd. “We are America!”
6:14 p.m. PDT: Leon Panetta, former defense secretary in the Obama administration, notes at the beginning of his speech that he has worked alongside nine presidents. “This is no time to gamble with our future,” he says, noting that Clinton would be trusted by the troops, foreign diplomats and U.S. officials. He also brings up her role in the decision to go after Osama bin Laden.
Considering the many critiques of Clinton’s “war hawk” tendencies, Panetta’s speech seemed repetitive, focused solely on experience, the threat of Islamic State, and of course, the ineptitude of Trump. However, the crowd was riled up — Panetta was interrupted by extremely loud chants of “No more war!” Although he tried to get back on track, he was silenced by minutes-long chants of “Lies! Lies!” Eventually, competing chants of “USA!” led to silence, and Panetta was able to finish his speech.
— Reuters Live (@ReutersLive) July 28, 2016
5:46 p.m. PDT: Seems like the love fest is over. Immediately after the Broadway stars left the stage, an ominous video focusing on foreign policy and Donald Trump’s “recklessness” began to play. It even used footage of Ronald Reagan explaining how dangerous nuclear war would be, followed by more examples of Trump’s frightening foreign policy proposals.
“Donald, you’re not fit to polish John McCain’s boots.” Strong words from retired Adm. John Hutson, who used his speech to note how some conservatives have criticized Trump’s policy proposals (oftentimes to Trump’s chagrin). He added that although Islamic State can’t defeat the United States militarily, it is fighting the U.S. by inspiring terrorist ideals — and that Trump is a walking advertisement for terrorists.
Halfway through his speech, many segments of the crowd began chanting unintelligibly — it was unclear if the chant was meant to be supportive of or in opposition to what Hutson was saying.
Kristen Kavanaugh, formerly in the Marine Corps, took the stage to talk about being able to trust the commander in chief. “I do not trust Donald Trump,” Kavanaugh said. “His recklessness means more deployments for my friends, more families separated, and more young heroes never coming home.”
It seems that the Democratic Party, in deciding to go after Trump, has to walk a thin line between promoting the progressive ideals of frustrated Bernie Sanders supporters and convincing moderates that Hillary Clinton is the right choice.
5:31 p.m. PDT: Several speakers appear to address the issue of gun violence. Lee Daniels, known for his work on the film “Precious” and the acclaimed television series “Empire,” took the stage to talk about the African-American community and gun violence. Using personal anecdotes as reference, he stated that he knows Clinton would be the one to turn tragedies into action. Christine Leinonen, whose son died in the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., took the stage to plead for a “common sense” response to gun violence. Her emotional speech left the audience on its feet, cheering.
Then, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy appeared and immediately began to speak of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., in 2012 in which 20 children and six adults were killed. “I am furious,” he said. “In the three years since Sandy Hook … the Republican Congress has done absolutely nothing to prevent the next massacre.” He praised Clinton’s strength against the gun lobby, and also stated that Trump sees gun violence as an “opportunity.” Echoing the optimistic sentiments of the first two days of the convention, however, he ended on a positive note by declaring that Clinton has the power to change current policies.
Then the audience was shown an emotionally charged video featuring Erica Smegielski, the daughter of the Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the Newton rampage. Smegielski took the stage afterward to speak, repeatedly reminding the crowd through her strong words and delivery that she was angry about the murder of her mother and the lack of legislative action in the years since the tragedy.
Charles Ramsey, former commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, then spoke on how having mourned too many police officers during his career. His speech focused on why police officers need gun control measures, an extremely relevant topic in the wake of the deliberate shooting of 12 police officers in Dallas earlier this month, which left five of them dead. He also added that these measures would help “rebuild the bond” between police and the communities they protect.
Actress Angela Bassett took the stage to discuss the mass shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., last year. She was followed by two members of the church’s congregation, who emphasized the message of love over hate. They were followed by Mark Kelly, who stressed his military experience and introduced his wife, Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was almost killed in 2011 by a lone gunman. She engaged the crowd by repeatedly asking “Are you ready?” for an end to gun violence.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 28, 2016
These speakers, focused on addressing gun violence, wrapped up with a tribute from “the brightest voices on Broadway.” The group sang a powerful rendition of “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” reinforcing the overall theme that the Democratic Party has been touting: While the GOP focuses on anger and disillusionment, the Democratic Party is looking toward a brighter, more positive future.
4:45 p.m. PDT: It seems that the critiques of Donald Trump are off to a rolling start. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio compared Clinton and Trump, noting that Trump has “degraded women to make himself feel big while showing himself to be the truly little man he is.” Jesse Jackson Sr., who roused the crowd with back-and-forth chants of “It’s healing time, it’s hoping time,” also compared the two nominees.
A video segment showing the growing danger of climate change took ample time to show how Trump fails when it comes to the environment, a message echoed by California Gov. Jerry Brown. He noted Clinton’s political history on climate change, such as her role in the Paris climate talks. The California governor also praised his own state for making headway in combating climate change while growing the economy, essentially tying working against climate change, which is passionately supported by the far left, with the business interests of moderates.
3:06 p.m. PDT: Tim Kaine has officially received the nomination for vice president. He will take the stage later this evening to address the crowd. Watch his nomination below:
— CNN International (@cnni) July 27, 2016
11:02 a.m. PDT: On Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton made history by becoming the nation’s first female presidential nominee from a major party. Emotions ran high when Mothers of the Movement took the stage to discuss police violence against African-Americans. And Bill Clinton gave the keynote speech, in which he told the story of his romance with Hillary and spoke of her political achievements. Check out a recap of Day 2 here.
Much of the convention thus far has been focused on uniting a party seemingly still split between supporters of Clinton and supporters of Bernie Sanders, and unlike last week’s Republican National Convention, little attention has been given to the opposing candidate. Will Wednesday be the day the Democrats finally address the elephant in the room? Truthdig’s Bill Blum chimes in:
Here’s what I’ll be watching for on Day 3: At some point in this long “infomercial” (Robert Reich’s term, not mine) masquerading as a political convention, I expect the emphasis to shift from touting the virtues of Hillary Clinton to highlighting the dangers of Donald Trump.
The shift has to take place for at least two reasons: First, there is only so much hagiography even the most ardent Clinton backers can direct toward her. Try as they might to depict her as a cross between Mother Teresa and Superwoman, Clinton’s surrogates (celebrities and pols alike) will run into the law of diminishing returns. Voters who have bought the sizzle are on board. It’s now time to move on.
Second, like it or not, this election will come down to a choice between two dramatically unpopular candidates. Yes, “lesser evilism” will determine the outcome. To win, the Clinton camp must convince a majority of voters that Trump, and the neofascism he represents, is the greater danger facing the nation. This should be an easy task, on the order of sinking an uncontested layup in a basketball game. But remember, we’re talking about Hillary Clinton here, and nothing about her is ever easy.
Wednesday night, President Obama is set to give the keynote speech, and he likely will urge Americans to vote for Clinton if they want to uphold his political legacy. Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, are also going to take the stage. The New York Times reports that while Biden may harbor some regrets that he did not run for president this time around, “his speech will almost certainly feature the gritty passion that is his trademark.” Kaine, meanwhile, faces high expectations after his powerful remarks at a campaign event last week.
Be sure to check back for live updates on Day 3 of the convention, taking place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Check out Truthdig’s coverage of Day 2 in the form of photojournalism here, and take a look at video reports from inside and outside the convention center here.
—Posted by Emma NilesWAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
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