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Highlights and analysis from Day 4 of the Democratic National Convention

Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Duckworth, Andrew Yang and Michael Bloomberg also spoke on Thursday.
Image: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on a blue background with white stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention brought presidential nominee Joe Biden's acceptance speech, a host of remarks from more party officials and musical performances by John Legend, Common and The Chicks.

In broad remarks, Biden presented his vision for uniting America to move the country forward from "constant chaos and crisis."

Other speakers Thursday included former presidential primary rivals Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, businessman Andrew Yang and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and several erstwhile vice presidential contenders, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

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ANALYSIS: Biden sticks landing to close cautious convention

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden stuck the landing on a four-day virtual party convention Thursday, giving an acceptance speech that rebuffed in its delivery and content President Donald Trump's charge that he is a "sleepy" captive of the "radical left" who is "against God."

At turns optimistic, impassioned and admonishing — and using the words of the civil rights activist Ella Baker as a bridge to an implicitly biblical frame — Biden cast himself as an "ally of the light" and Trump as a figure who has "cloaked the nation in darkness" for nearly four years.

He was much more the cagey veteran than a lion in winter.

But as much as anything, Biden's closing remarks reflected the caution of a Democratic Party that suddenly rallied around its most well-known, even-keeled and centrist candidate after the threat of a relative newcomer or a familiar democratic socialist winning the nomination became more tangible in February and March.

Read the full analysis.

3 key takeaways from DNC 2020, Night 4

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination on a night that distilled the mood of the convention: light on policy and heavy on feelings of unity, optimism and wresting the levers of power from President Donald Trump.

The purpose of the convention was to put ideological and other disagreements on the back burner and encourage voters to dispose of a president who was depicted throughout its final evening as a mortal threat to the character of the United States.

The focus was on empathy, compassion, justice and fairness — qualities that the politicians, celebrities, historians and former Republicans who spoke said were embodied in Biden.

Or, as the Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini put it: "Decency porn."

Here are three takeaways.

Fact checking Biden on Trump’s COVID-19 response

“Just judge the president on the facts. Five million Americans infected by COVID-19. More than 170,000 Americans have died. By far, the worst performance of any nation on earth,” Biden said on Thursday night. “More than 50 million people have filed for unemployment this year. More than 10 million people are going to lose their health insurance this year. Nearly 1 in 6 businesses have closed this year.”

Biden’s numbers, used to paint a critical picture of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, largely check out:  More than 5 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 this year. More than 170,000  people have died. As of last month, more than 50 million people had applied for unemployment since the pandemic began, and researchers at the nonprofit Urban Institute recently estimated that 10 million will lose employer-sponsored health care by the end of the year. 

His final data point — that nearly 1 in 6 businesses have closed this year — is a bit harder to verify because there’s no centralized data. The Biden campaign, however, pointed to two sources: a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey that estimates that 1 in 7 businesses were still closed in July, and an economic recovery tracker from Opportunity Insights, a nonprofit research group affiliated with Harvard and Brown Universities, that says that nearly 1 in 5 small businesses had shuttered. 

But is it the ”worst performance of any nation on earth?” The U.S., under Trump’s administration, has struggled to combat the virus in part due to a decentralized response that was slow and bungled from the start. Compared with the success countries like Japan, Germany and New Zealand have seen in controlling the virus, the U.S. response has been deeply flawed. But other nations, albeit less prosperous ones like India and Venezuela, are suffering acutely and struggling to respond to the virus, too.

Trump criticizes Biden's DNC acceptance speech as 'just words'

OLD FORGE, Pa. — President Donald Trump sought to depict rival Joe Biden as out of touch with the working class as he campaigned near the former vice president's Pennsylvania hometown Thursday and delivered real-time criticism of the Democrat's speech.

"In 47 years, Joe did none of the things of which he now speaks. He will never change, just words!" Trump wrote on Twitter as Biden spoke.

Biden's campaign has made Trump the central theme of this week's Democratic convention, producing a program that featured a series of speakers offering blistering criticisms of his presidency. Trump has served as a one-man rebuttal team, including firing off real-time responses during former President Barack Obama's speech Wednesday.

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Biden avoids mentioning Trump by name

Joe Biden went to great lengths to avoid mentioning President Trump's name during his lengthy acceptance speech.

Instead, Biden used various euphemisms to deliver pointed attacks aimed at Trump’s leadership and character.

Biden referred to Trump as "this president" and the "current occupant of the White House," while also comparing him to "darkness."

"He will wake up every day thinking the job is all about him, never about you," Biden said.

Biden discussed George Floyd and ‘rooting out systemic racism’

Dartunorro Clark

Toward the end of his speech, Biden detailed a private conversation he had with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter, the day before her father was laid to rest. 

Biden recalled the child saying, “Daddy changed the world.” 

“Her words burrowed deep into my heart,” he said.

 Biden then called for a societal shift in the wake of Floyd's killing. 

“George Floyd’s death was the breaking point” for the country to wake up to racism in America, Biden said. He quoted the late John Lewis in doing the work to address injustice. 

“America is ready in John’s words to ‘lay down the heavy burden of hate’ and do the hard work of rooting out systemic racism,” he said. 

'Welcome to Wilmington'

An enthusiastic Joe Biden ended his evening with his running mate and their spouses and a spectacular fireworks display. After the grande finale, Biden lowered his mask, pointed to nearby reporters and said: "Welcome to Wilmington!"

After a reporter asked how he felt, he pumped his fist before walking off stage.

Biden speech gets rave reviews, even from conservatives

Biden says #ThanksObama

Dartunorro Clark

Biden honored Obama in his acceptance speech, while taking a dig at Trump.

"Let me say something we don’t say enough, 'Thank you, Mr. President.' You were a great president. A president that our children could and did look up to," Biden said. "No one is going to say that about the current occupant of the White House."

Biden shifts tone toward Trump

Much of the early portion of Biden’s speech was focused on unity and bringing the country together. But as Biden transitioned into speaking to some of the finer points of his candidacy, he shifted in tone toward Donald Trump.

In one particularly fiery line, Biden said, "The days of cozying up to dictators is over."

Both segments of the speech served as a near-total contrast with Trump in how he discussed the pandemic, national security, racial injustice and the country at large.

'No miracle is coming': Biden goes after Trump’s response to COVID

Joe Biden strongly rebuked President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that his lack of leadership made the crisis work.

"The president keeps telling us the virus is going to disappear. He keeps waiting for a miracle," Biden said.  "Well, I have news for him. No miracle is coming. We lead the world in confirmed cases. We lead the world in deaths."

"He has failed to protect us," Biden added. "And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable."

Drawing on his own experience losing family members, Biden spoke directly to those who have lost loved ones to the virus. 

"I know how mean, cruel, and unfair life can be sometimes,” Biden said. "Your loved one may have left this earth but they'll never leave your heart. They'll always be with you."

Who was Ella Baker? Why did Biden begin with her?

Janell Ross

Dartunorro Clark

Janell Ross and Dartunorro Clark

Biden began and ended his speech while accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president with evocative references to past and present struggles for civil rights. 

When Biden took his place at center stage on the fourth night of the DNC, he started with a riff on light and dark, about a nation’s path. He quoted Ella Baker, a lecturer, strategist, and organizer in the mid-20th century civil rights movement who helped to coordinate sustained resistance activities which transformed the country.

“Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light and they will find a way,” Biden said. “Give people light. Those are words for our time.”

In many ways, Ella Baker was the consummate civil rights worker, responsible for the logistics and strategy behind sustained lunch counter protests and Freedom Summer.

Born in Virginia in 1903 as the granddaughter of slaves, Baker graduated first in her college class from the North Carolina HBCU, Shaw University. Beginning in the 1940s, she served as the equivalent of a field organizer, secretary, and leader for multiple civil rights organizations around the country.

That list includes the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. But, Baker did the work and, she believed in bringing ordinary people into the fight for their own rights, fights they shaped and implemented.

Baker was so committed to equality she sometimes clashed with the movement’s best known male figures. She argued that embracing a patriarchal, messianic leadership model was a mistake.

So, as some DNC viewers watched Biden begin his speech with a Baker quote, the reaction was swift.


Biden makes big unity pitch in nomination speech

Building on the overall theme of this convention, Joe Biden went hard with unity points in his speech closing out the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

“While I am a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president,” he said.

Sounding a bit like Barack Obama’s 2004 convention speech, Biden said: “America isn't just a collection of clashing interests and red states and blue states. We're so much bigger than that."

Joe Biden accepts Democratic nomination for president, capping decades-long quest

Joe Biden on Thursday accepted the Democratic nomination for president on the final night of the party’s four-day virtual convention as his campaign prepared to enter the homestretch of its battle to oust President Trump.

"It is with great honor and humility that I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America,” said the 77-year-old former vice president, reveling in a special moment for a candidate who ran twice previously for the White House, in 1988 and 2008. Biden delivered his address from Wilmington, Delaware, in a venue that was largely empty because of coronavirus concerns.

Fact check: Bloomberg on Trump's bankruptcies

Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and Joe Biden's onetime 2020 rival, went after President Trump for his track record as a businessman.

"Trump says we should vote for him because he’s a great businessman. Really?!” Bloomberg said. “He drove his companies into bankruptcies six times."

That number is accurate — Trump companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection six times, according to reports.

Fact check: Is Trump trying to 'sabotage' the Postal Service?

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla alleged that President Trump is trying to “sabotage” the Postal Service on Thursday night. 

In public remarks, the president has suggested that his opposition to agreeing to critical funding for the USPS hinged on his desire to limit mail voting.

“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” the president said in a Fox Business interview on August 13. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”

Bloomberg gives prominent speech at DNC despite backlash

Mike Bloomberg on Thursday blasted President Trump in his speech to the DNC, calling him a failed businessman and saying he must be defeated this November for the sake of the nation. 

Bloomberg’s remarks drew Trump’s ire almost immediately, though they were far from the first anti-Trump remarks of the night.

"After the worst debate performance in the history of politics, Michael Bloomberg, commonly known as Mini Mike, is trying to make a comeback by begging the Democrats for relevance," Trump tweeted. "They treated him like a dog — and always will. Before politics, he said GREAT things about me!"

The former New York City mayor's prominence at the convention has drawn ire in recent days.

Several Bloomberg staffers are currently suing the campaign after they were let go after Bloomberg ended his campaign in March. They say Bloomberg had promised them jobs through the election, but the Bloomberg campaign has said they were "at-will" employees and could be let go at any time. The campaign has also pointed to health insurance the candidate provided to former staffers after they were let go.

Brayden Harrington, teen who overcame stutter with Biden’s help, honors VP

Dartunorro Clark

Although he can’t vote in this election, 13-year-old Brayden Harrington threw his support behind Biden on the final night of the DNC. 

Harrington met Biden in New Hampshire earlier this year, where he and Biden found out they "were members of the same club — we stutter." Biden has been open in recent years about dealing with his stutter, often connecting with youth and other adults who have the same issue. 

"It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became Vice President," he said. "He told me about a book of poems by Yeats he would read out loud to practice. He showed me how he marks his addresses to make them easier to say out loud. So I did the same thing today and now I'm here talking to you today about the future, about our future.”

He implored voters to elect Biden.  

"I'm just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time Joe Biden made me more confident about something that's bothered me my whole life,” he said. "Kids like me are counting on you to elect someone we can all look up to, someone who cares, someone who will make our country and the world feel better. We're counting on you to elect Joe Biden."

‘All the people voted off the island’: Former candidates share stories about Biden

Joe Biden’s ex-presidential rivals appeared in a Zoom-style chat to discuss their time on the campaign trail and to share stories about Biden.

Cory Booker led the conversation, joking that they were “all the people voted off the island.” 

Amy Klobuchar shared a time when she thought nobody was paying attention to a Senate speech she had given, just to be surprised by a call from Biden to tell her he’d tuned in. Elizabeth Warren told a story about Biden on the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing, saying that she was able to clearly see him as someone who had “experienced loss very personally.” 

Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang also joined the conversation. 

“I mean this sincerely,” Booker concluded, “it was an honor to run against you, and it's an even greater honor to stand with you in support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

Fact check: Was Joe Biden ahead of his party on gay marriage?

“Love makes my marriage real, but political courage made it possible — including that of Joe Biden, who stepped out ahead even of this party when he said that marriage equality should be the law of the land,” Pete Buttigieg said on Thursday night. 

This is technically true. Biden did publicly voice his support for gay marriage ahead of any official move by the Democratic Party — but not by much, and a majority of Democrats were already in favor of marriage equality by the time he made the point.

When the then-vice president came out in support of gay marriage in 2012, he made headlines, in part because he’d beaten President Barack Obama to the punch by about 72 hours.

At least one member of Obama’s Cabinet — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan —had already thrown support behind marriage equality and the White House reportedly had been quietly preparing for Obama to take a stand for months. And much of his party was already there — 65 percent of Democrats and a majority of Americans supported marriage equality, according to a Gallup poll taken within days of Biden’s remarks. A year earlier, for example, then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now Biden’s running mate, announced in a court filing that her office wouldn’t defend the state’s gay marriage ban in the courts.

The Democratic Party wrote marriage equality into the party platform later in 2012, after both Biden and Obama expressed their support. The Supreme Court would not make same-sex marriage legal nationwide until 2015.

Bloomberg upstaged by fly

Beau Biden memorial featured on DNC's final night

Dartunorro Clark

Biden has talked often about the death of his son Beau at age 46 to brain cancer and how facing such a tragedy has informed his decision-making.

Featuring Beau Biden before accepting the nomination follows the theme of tonight — fleshing out a more personal portrait of Biden to voters. Before his death, Beau Biden was following in his father’s political footsteps, but without using his last name to get there, the montage highlighted. 

It ended with a poignant quote from Beau’s 2008 convention speech: “It won't be possible for me to be here this fall to stand by him the way he stood by me. So I have something to ask of you. Be there for my dad like he was for me.”

Duckworth eviscerates Trump

Tammy Duckworth blasted Donald Trump in some of the strongest terms of the entire convention Thursday.

“Somehow, Donald Trump still doesn’t get that America should stand up for what’s right — stand tall for our troops — and stand strong against our enemies,” Duckworth said after referring to recent reports that  Russia had placed bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Trump’s lack of response. “But unlike Trump, Joe understands all of that. As president, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet on a string.”

Duckworth lost her legs in a helicopter crash while serving in the Army in Iraq when her helicopter was shot down. Notably, Duckworth, who uses a wheelchair, stood for the entirety of the speech.

“Joe Biden would never threaten to use our military against peaceful Americans,” she added. “Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common sense and common decency. Donald Trump doesn’t deserve to call himself commander in chief for another four minutes — let alone another four years.”

That Bruce outro is wearing thin

It's the last night of the DNC, and we've all heard that "Riiiiiiiisseee uuupppp" Bruce Springsteen outro a few dozen times. And, understandably, some people have had enough of it.

'I’ll watch': Trump will tune in for Biden’s acceptance speech

President Trump called into Fox News for a nearly 30-minute interview Thursday night as the DNC was well underway. 

When asked if he would be watching Joe Biden’s speech later in the evening, Trump said “I will, I’ll watch.”

“I don't know if I’m going to be able to watch all of it,” Trump joked. “I’ve watched a lot of hate last night and the night before.”

Trump also criticized the Democrats for taping some of their speeches, calling it “pretty boring,” and promised to “go live” for his acceptance speech next week.

Unions get brief moment at DNC

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

Joe Biden’s political career has been built in part from strong support from unions.

From firefighters to trades, he also spent decades enjoying strong support from union workers in Delaware.

President Trump has tried to cut into union support Democrats have historically enjoyed and his success at doing so contributed to his 2016 wins in states like Michigan and Wisconsin.

But Biden’s convention has given little time to unions. No union leaders were slated to speak.

And it wasn’t until the fourth night that unions made an appearance at all, when Biden hosted a virtual roundtable with four union leaders, including two public sector unions.

Booker makes impassioned plea for Biden

Cory Booker spoke on the final night of the convention and made an impassioned plea for Joe Biden, tying the senator’s personal story to the present moment.

“We’ll stand for those who cook, and serve, and clean; who plant and harvest; who pack and always deliver, whose hands are thick with calluses, like my grandad’s who held mine when I was a boy,” Booker said. “If he was alive, Joe and Kamala, he would be so proud of you—and he’d tell us, take another by the hand, and another, and let’s get to work, this dream ain’t free, you gotta work for it.”

“So like his generation, up out of the Depression; let’s now work together and stand together and America, together, we will rise,” he added.

Rep. Deb Halaand points out that she's a '35th generation New Mexican'

Mayor Pete does some major prep

'He doesn’t want us to vote': Sarah Cooper after Trump impersonation

Sarah Cooper, who has gained a massive following on Twitter and TikTok for her Trump impersonations, spoke in a brief video at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

“I’ve heard Donald Trump say some pretty unhinged things,” Cooper said after doing one of her impressions, which feature her lip-syncing to a Trump speech. “I’ve heard them over and over and over again. But nothing is more dangerous to our democracy than his attacks on mail-in voting in the middle of a pandemic.”

Cooper said Trump “doesn’t want us to vote” because he knows he can’t win with a large turnout.

Cooper spoke during a segment that also featured the secretaries of state in California and Michigan as well as voters who promoted voting by mail and criticized Trump’s attacks on the process.

DNC honors civil rights icon John Lewis on final night

Dartunorro Clark

The late John Lewis was honored on the final night of the DNC. 

Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta — Lewis’ hometown — kicked off the segment, which featured Nancy Pelosi, the Rev. James Lawson Jr. and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who died in 2019. 

“We must pass on the gift that John Lewis sacrificed to give us — we must register, and we must vote,” Lance Bottoms said.

Lewis was known as the "conscience of Congress" and represented Georgia for more than three decades in Congress. He died July 17 from pancreatic cancer

Lewis dedicated his life to protecting voting rights, and this year Democrats have been on the offense — urging voters to make a plan to vote either by mail or in person and warning that Trump may sneak or steal his way to re-election. 

Fists raised outside the DNC

The 'Veep' gets mixed reviews on Twitter, but praise from Harris

Chris Coons: Biden is 'a man of faith and conscience'

Dartunorro Clark

Chris Coons of Delaware, Biden’s hometown senator, introduced a segment on Biden’s faith — a moving portrait of how it influences his decision-making. 

Coons said Biden has “comforted me in my toughest moments,” particularly when his father was in hospice care. He said Biden would “stop everything and listen — really listen — to someone who needs a shoulder to cry on or a partner in prayer.”

Coons, who hosts a weekly bipartisan Senate Prayer Breakfast, took a veiled dig at Trump by saying Biden doesn't use his faith as a “prop or political tool.” Police violently pushed back anti-racism protesters in June to clear the way for Trump to pose with a photo of the bible in front of a D.C. church. 

It also included a past Q&A Biden had with a pastor discussing the killing of Black parishioners in South Carolina by a white supremacist, where Biden talked about the strength in the Black church. 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus punctuated the segment with a biting comment: "Joe Biden goes to church so regularly that he doesn't even need tear gas and a bunch of federalized troops to get him there"

Yang delivers emotional speech with nods to math, Yang Gang

Andrew Yang kicked off the program with an emotional, if at times slightly awkward, speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday.

"I’m Andrew Yang, You might know me as the guy who ran for President talking about MATH and the future," he said. Speaking in front of a green screen, Yang said Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will deliver for everyday Americans.

"I know many politicians promise and then fail to deliver," Yang, the one-time 2020 presidential candidate, said. "But we must give this country a chance to recover — and recovery is only possible with a change of leadership and new ideas."

"Give my regards to the Gang!" Louis-Dreyfus said, noting the YangGang.

"I will," Yang responded. "They’re right in the other room."

Julia Louis Dreyfus' top 3 opening jokes as voted by the NBC News live blog Slack channel

1. 30330, the code to text to support Joe, and the year President Trump will release his tax returns.

2. She was told she would appear on the cover of a magazine. It turned out to be Arrive, the Amtrak seatback magazine. Which no one ever reads, except Joe Biden.

3. A fifth night of the DNC with just Michelle Obama's speech on loop.

Rep. Richmond's son steals the show with pledge of allegiance

Julia Louis-Dreyfus brings jokes to final night of DNC

Dartunorro Clark

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 11-time Emmy winner and fake vice president turned president in the HBO show Veep, brought the jokes immediately as the moderator of the final night of the DNC. 

Louis-Dreyfus was joined by Andrew Yang where they spoke in Trump-isms and praised Kamala Harris (Yang called her speech “tremendous”) and talked about her upcoming debate with Mike Pence, while intentionally mispronouncing his name. 

JLD: “I cannot wait to see her debate our current vice president, Mike Pince — or is it Pance? 

Yang: It’s pronounced Ponce, I believe 

JLD: Oh, some kind of weird foreign name? 

Yang: No very American sounding 

JLD: Yeah, that’s what people are saying, strongly. 

Kamala’s name means "lotus" in Sanskrit, and has been mispronounced so much she released a video of how to pronounce it (comma-la). 

Louis-Dreyus also poked fun at Trump, saying he can’t read and might never release his tax returns. 

The Chicks, political pariahs among conservatives, sing national anthem at DNC

Dartunorro Clark

The Chicks, the country music trio who were once political pariahs, hit the virtual stage Thursday to sing the national anthem on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.

Their presence is notable for several reasons. The Chicks, formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, were one of the biggest acts in country music until they were ostracized by many of their fans after criticizing George W. Bush and the Iraq War. 

The group made a brief comeback in 2006 with their Grammy-winning album "Taking the Long Way," but recently the group made headlines for dropping the Dixie from their name after civil unrest erupted following the murder of George Floyd.

Their appearance is also noteworthy because country singers are usually seen at Republican conventions and have a large conservative fanbase. But this appearance fits into the theme of reaching out to disaffected Republicans and independents at this year's DNC. 

Tonight's host is ready!

Opening video honors Biden’s work on cancer cure

Dartunorro Clark

Dartunorro Clark and Lauren Egan

The final night of the DNC opened with a moving, somber portrait of Biden’s personal mission to end cancer. It started during the Obama administration with Cancer Moonshot, a program to fast-track cancer research to find a cure. 

“I want to be the president who ends cancer because it’s possible,” Biden says in one clip. 

It featured a montage of President Kennedy talking about America going to the moon by the end of the 1960s. It also featured the death of Biden’s son Beau, who died of brain cancer, and how his son pushed him to pursue his personal policy ambitions. 

Mitch McConnell also made a cameo from a previous speech in which he talked about how Biden has overcome personal tragedies and informed him as a public servant — subtly tapping into the convention’s overall theme of also reaching out to Republican voters.

Focusing on Biden’s personal family history and how it informs him as a politician has been a theme of his campaign and a strength his supporters point to when Biden has one-on-one meetings with voters.

DNC drive-in watch parties pop up

Trump appears upset with the DNC's security checks

Newsom shuffled in lineup because of wildfires

Jesse Rodriguez

California Gov. Gavin Newsom filmed a short update focused on the wildfires while visiting evacuation centers today that will air as part of tonight’s Democratic National Convention.

The brief remarks ran a couple of minutes and were recorded on a cellphone.

Newsom had been slated to give a broader address but nixed it because he was focused on the fires, the San Francisco Chronicle reported

The party of inclusion’s convention excluded Julián Castro

Janell Ross

Suzanne Gamboa and Janell Ross

Julián Castro was the only Latino to run for president this year. From 2014 to 2017, he was secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama/Biden administration. He was San Antonio’s mayor, a city, then, of nearly 1.5 million people. And when Castro delivered the Democrats’ keynote convention speech in 2012, Obama was re-elected with the highest Latino vote share won by a Democrat since 1996. 

But Castro has been largely unseen in this year’s Democratic convention. His name was missing from tonight’s schedule, even though the evening includes a “United We Stand” video, the second half of a pre-recorded segment featuring the 2020 presidential candidates who didn’t win the nomination.

Was it something he said? A debate-stage clash with Biden perhaps? Or what he didn’t say, such as endorsing Biden soon enough in the primary election calendar? 

Maybe his call to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings remains too hot? Or was it his public questions about why two very white states, Iowa and New Hampshire, get an outsized role in winnowing the diverse party's presidential options? Party leaders have said they would address the matter after the November election.

It’s hard to say for certain why Castro won’t be speaking. The Biden campaign blamed it on a scheduling problem.

“We worked with his staff, but he couldn’t make it work,” said a Biden staffer, referring to his participation in tonight's video. “But he’s participated in a number of events around the convention and we’re glad he did.” Castro hasn’t discussed it, and did not respond to a request from comment from NBC News.  

Obama’s re-election made many Latinos think a Hispanic president would soon follow and many looked to Castro. But Hillary Clinton passed on him as her running mate, later losing her 2016 presidential bid.

Castro has spoken at several convention caucuses and given several interviews following Michelle Obama’s comments about going high, not low. But he has largely kept out of sight.

Despite subdued convention, protestors make voices heard

Local TV reporter Caroline Reinwald is on the streets of Milwaukee where she says more protestors, now "at least a couple hundred," are marching toward the site of the DNC. 

With Biden all over the news, Team Trump buys up major ad space

The Democrats' convention might be dominating the news, but that doesn't mean President Trump can't carve out some space for himself.

Trump campaign ads have dominated at least two major internet destinations in recent days: The Washington Post and YouTube.

Trump's ads were big on YouTube's homepage on Tuesday, complete with autoplay that made sure each visitor at least heard the ad. On Wednesday, Trump's ads were prominent on The Washington Post's homepage. 

As NBC News' Shannon Pettypiece and Lauren Egan reported: "The Trump campaign said they planned to spend in the high seven figures to take over the banner of YouTube for 96 hours starting Tuesday.  They also planned to cover the home pages of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and with Trump ads and will use more targeted Hulu ads in battleground states."

'Not fair!': Trump tweets about mail-in ballots

NBC News

Jill Biden one-on-one ahead of DNC final night

'Trump' to make Night 4 appearance... in form of Sarah Cooper

Marianna Sotomayor

Comedian Sarah Cooper will make a virtual appearance at tonight’s convention, where she will mock President Trump.

In this clip she mouths him talking about defining the Postal Service. Cooper will also deliver a more serious message emphasizing how Americans shouldn’t believe Trump’s attempts to misinform. 


Tulsi Gabbard confirms DNC snub

The intros could get emotional

Before we hear from Joe Biden, expect emotional introductions to him. There will be a video tribute to Beau Biden. Then, later in the program, Ashley and Hunter Biden will talk about their father. 

Biden’s close friend, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, will lead off the introductions to Biden tonight, speaking about the man whose Senate seat he now holds. He said he will speak about his friend’s faith in God.

“For Joe, faith isn’t a prop or a political tool,” Coons is expected to say according to prepared remarks. “Joe knows the power of prayer, and I’ve seen him in moments of joy and triumph, of loss and despair, turn to God for strength."

It will combat the attacks from President Trump, who earlier this month argued Biden would “hurt the Bible” and is “against God.”

Wisconsin election board rejects Kanye West's bid for state's presidential ballot

Kanye West's hopes to get on the ballot in Wisconsin were squashed late Thursday when the state's election board ruled that his application was submitted too late, a major blow to the music superstar’s presidential bid, which has been bolstered by Republicans across the country.

The commission agreed by a vote of 5-1 to reject West’s petition to get on the state’s presidential ballot as an independent candidate because his petition signatures were delivered shortly after the state’s 5 p.m. deadline.

West faced multiple challenges to his ballot petition that included questions about the veracity of his signatures as well as the charge he missed the state’s deadline.

West is almost certainly not going to be on enough ballots to win the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, and wouldn’t have been even if he gained a ballot spot in Wisconsin.

Read more here.

In first VP fundraiser, Harris addresses stigmas that ambitious women face

Deepa Shivaram

Kamala Harris on Thursday joined her first fundraiser since joining the Biden-Harris ticket, which was moderated by Wednesday's DNC host, actress Kerry Washington.

Harris spoke about how women can help turn out the vote and get people involved in politics. She also spoke about the stigmas women, especially women of color, face when breaking new grounds.

"There’s a lot still in the environment that will suggest to a woman who seeks to achieve, who has ambition, who goes for something, that maybe it’s not her time or her place, or maybe she’s out of line," Harris said. "So it is important to have that safety net of folks who are just pushing you in the room, 'Just go get in there.'"

The night's end will have a big celebration — even without a balloon drop

Ali Vitali

While there will not be a balloon drop at this convention, there will be a final send-off. It is fair to say that send-off will include Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff.

A look at the intro clip to play ahead of Biden formally accepting nomination

Marianna Sotomayor

The Biden campaign just released a preview clip of the introductory video they will play ahead of Joe Biden accepting the Democratic nomination.

In the preview, former staff attests to Biden’s commitment to fighting for the middle class given his own family’s experience. It reminds how Biden prioritized saving the economy by using his retain politics with members of Congress and governors to shepherd the Recovery Act into law.

“I watched him bring his heart to that job. It matters that you have in your mind the family that you’re trying to reach, the neighborhood that you’re trying to reach, the people whose lives are affected by what you do,” former director of White House domestic policy council Cecilia Muñoz said.

Like many of the videos seen throughout the week, this one is also produced by Oscar Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim.

You can watch it here

Night 3 sees uptick in TV viewership

Almost 23 million people tuned in via television for Night 3 of the Democratic convention, an increase on the previous two nights. 

That total is comparable to the third night of the 2016 convention, which attracted about 24 million viewers.

It's a welcome sign of public interest after the first two nights of the DNC, which showed a significant decline in TV viewership compared to four years ago. Some of that decline has been offset by an increase in digital viewership, which TJ Ducklo, national press secretary for the Biden campaign, tweeted Tuesday broke a record on Night 1.

Biden to give the speech of his political life

Joe Biden will be delivering what, in many ways, is the speech of his political life. And a source close to the process tells NBC News that his preparation reflects that.

Biden’s acceptance speech was developed and written over the course of the summer. While it has evolved through the process, it was largely “locked” weeks ago — "which is nearly unheard of in Bidenland,” as one source put it. 

Biden, as always, has a heavy hand in writing his own words and began rehearsing it at least two weeks ago.

“He knows exactly what he wants to say and he’s been saying it from the outset,” one source said while pointing to Biden's consistent case that this election represents “a battle for the soul of the nation.” 

“It was mocked in the early part of the campaign, but it feels like the world, or at least a large share of the electorate, has caught up to where Biden has been,” the source added. “Joe Biden, however this campaign ends, will have no regrets or questions. He is running as himself and he has been saying this from Day One.”

The speech will also try to sum up the arc of Biden’s public service over the years. But it might not necessarily sound like a lot of the speeches he has given at past conventions. Yes, he’ll talk about the middle class and the family values that have shaped him and how he views the task ahead, but there’s a more urgent moment now that he will focus on. 

The biggest challenge for Biden may well be not having an audience. For Biden, oratory “is not about words on a page, it’s about how it lands with the audience.” Tonight, his only immediate audience will be a handful of aides and about a dozen reporters in the room before him.

Small group of protesters gather outside Chase Center where Biden will speak

Kailani Koenig

A small group of protesters gathered outside the gates of the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, where Joe Biden will deliver his convention speech Thursday night.

The few dozen protesters are primarily anti-Biden and pro-President Trump, carrying Trump signs and signs questioning Biden’s mental capacity.

Most of the protesters are not wearing masks. 

Expect Biden's speech to focus on himself, not Trump

The theme tonight is “America’s Promise.” 

Multiple Biden campaign advisers tell NBC News that Joe Biden will lay out his positive vision for the future of the country tonight, instead of focusing heavily on attacking President Trump. 

Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a co-chair of the Biden campaign, tells NBC News: “The vice president’s speech is going to try to touch all parts of America and call for our better angels and give us a road map to building back not just to normal, but to where we want to be. We have to build back better, and I think he is going lay it all out. “

When pressed on how much of his speech will be devoted to attacking Trump, Richmond said, “I think he is going to make the case for himself.”

This does not mean the speech will be devoid of Trump references. After all, the central argument of Biden’s campaign is a rejection of Trump and a promise to fight for the soul of the nation.  

Trump accuses Biden of abandoning his home state ahead of DNC acceptance speech

OLD FORGE, Pa. — President Donald Trump sought to depict rival Joe Biden as out of touch with the working class as he campaigned near the former vice president's Pennsylvania hometown Thursday, hours before he accepts the Democratic nomination for president.

"I hope he does well, I'll be honest, I do," Trump said. "But I also want him to tell the truth."

Biden's campaign has made Trump the central theme of this week's Democratic convention, producing a program that featured a series of speakers offering blistering critiques of his presidency. Trump has served as a one-man rebuttal team, including firing off real-time responses during former President Barack Obama's speech on Wednesday.

Trump, speaking in an outdoor lot at Mariotti Building Products on stage surrounded by building lumber and truck tractors, said he would be paying attention to Biden's big night.

"He left. He abandoned Pennsylvania. He abandoned Scranton," Trump said. "But he spent the last half-century in Washington selling out our country and ripping off our jobs."

Click here to read more. 

Throwback Thursday: Looking back at Biden's previous convention speeches

Marianna Sotomayor

Marianna Sotomayor and Mike Memoli

The culmination of Joe Biden’s roughly 50-year political career will occur tonight when he accepts the Democratic nomination for president in his hometown of Wilmington, Deleware.

Of course, it’s not the first speech he’s given at a DNC — he’s attended conventions since 1972, the year he won an upset Senate election. But tonight’s message will be delivered in an empty convention center room and at a somber time in the nation’s history.

While we await more about what exactly Biden will say, there’s some consistency in past addresses, about his political values, what it means to be a Democrat  and yes, how Americans have always been in a battle for the soul of the nation.

Click on links for a look back at some notable moments:

-1996: Introduced by John Lewis and touts Crume Bill

-2004: Focus on foreign policy, American leadership and soul of the nation

-2008: First VP acceptance speech

-2012: Second VP acceptance speech

-2016: Farewell address with swings at Donald Trump

Hunter Biden to speak at Democratic National Convention

Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden will speak at the Democratic National Convention Thursday alongside his sister Ashley Biden.

The two will speak after a tribute to Beau Biden, the former vice president's son, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Biden's children will speak to their father's personal qualities ahead of his headline speech.

Trump and his allies repeatedly targeted Hunter Biden throughout the 2020 campaign, particularly for his role on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Trump's focus on Joe and Hunter Biden's ties to Ukraine eventually led to his impeachment late last year.

Steph and Ayesha Curry endorse Joe Biden

Steph and Ayesha Curry will endorse Joe Biden in a video during the Democratic National Convention Thursday.

Steph Curry, the three-time NBA champion and two-time NBA MVP as a member of the Golden State Warriors, said, "We're voting for Joe Biden" in a preview of the video released Thursday, which featured the Currys and their two daughters.

"We want to ensure that our kids live in a nation that is safe, happy, healthy, and fair," said Ayesha Curry. "This upcoming election is especially important. One, because of the social injustices right now, racial inequality, but also because we have children."

Trump has long feuded with the NBA as prominent players like Curry and LeBron James have spoken out against him or in favor of kneeling during the national anthem. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has also been critical of the president.

The Warriors, winners of two championships during Trump's presidency, did not subsequently visit the White House.

Perez favors end to caucuses, expects party to reconsider Iowa going first

MILWAUKEE — Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez told NBC News that he favors an end to caucuses and expects the party to continue its shift toward primaries.

"Caucuses tend to be much less attended and much whiter," he said in an interview this week in Milwaukee. "We clearly expressed a preference for primaries over caucuses. We got halfway there." The next chair, he said, will "continue that conversation."

Perez said the DNC isn't mandating the elimination of caucus because switching to primaries can require changes to the law in states controlled by Republicans who don’t support the idea.

Perez also said he expects his successor to consider the order of the nominating contest, which has begun with Iowa and New Hampshire for decades, although he didn't take a position on that. The system has come under criticism from Democrats, like Julián Castro, who argue that the two states don’t reflect the diversity of the country — and less so the party — and should not remain atop the order.

"There will be a period of reflection," Perez said. "I think they will" take a look at the order of contests for the next primary, he continued, describing it as important "to build an inclusive table" in the party.

Joe Biden's DNC moment: 5 things to watch on the final night

WASHINGTON — The all-virtual Democratic National Convention concludes Thursday with a speech from the party's nominee himself, Joe Biden, along with appearances by 2020 also-rans Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg.

The final night of political conventions are typically the most-watched and Democrats have had a hard time breaking through to voters with the coronavirus crisis and President Donald Trump dominating the news most days, so Biden's speech is one of his best opportunities in months to get his message out.

Biden is not known as a particularly powerful orator and Trump's campaign has been arguing in ads and statements that Biden is essentially suffering from mental decline, so they've set a fairly low bar for the former VP to clear.

Here are five things to watch.

Kerry Washington passes the emcee torch to Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Biden’s DNC speech will reflect how Trump’s presidency has shaped his campaign, source says

Joe Biden will deliver what in many ways is the speech of his political life tonight. And his preparation reflects that, a source close to the process tells NBC News. 

Biden’s acceptance speech was developed and written over the course of the summer. While it has evolved through the process, it was largely “locked” weeks ago — "which is nearly unheard of in Bidenland,” as one source put it. 

“He knows exactly what he wants to say and he’s been saying it from the outset,” one source said, pointing to his consistent case that this election represents “a battle for the soul of the nation.” 

The speech will try to sum up that arc of Biden’s public service over the years. But it might not necessarily sound like a lot of the speeches he has given at past conventions. Yes, he’ll talk about the middle class and the family values that have shaped him and how he views the task ahead, but there’s a more urgent moment now that he will focus on more.

Read more about Biden's speech here.

Biden, Trump campaigns debut new ads ahead of Biden's DNC speech


Marianna Sotomayor

Josh Lederman

Marianna Sotomayor, Monica Alba and Josh Lederman

WASHINGTON — Ahead of Joe Biden's acceptance speech Thursday, the Democratic nominee's and President Donald Trump's campaigns are out with new ads to push their own Biden messaging. 

Biden's campaign unveiled a television ad titled, "What happens now", which documents the former vice president's experience during the economic crisis after the 2008 recession as proof he will be able to build the economy back from the coronavirus pandemic. The ad is a part of the Biden campaign's latest $24 million media buy next week and will air in key battleground states: Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

And as the DNC closes, the Trump campaign is out with a new digital ad highlighting a Biden figure who hasn't taken part in the week's festivities: Biden's son Hunter. He hasn't appeared at the convention, except for in a short clip when he eulogized his brother, Beau. 

The new ad is the centerpiece of a seven-figure digital buy specifically targeted at the DNC. It focuses on a 2013 trip to China that both Biden and his son Hunter took, and features 2019 footage of Hunter fielding questions on the potential impropriety of the visit. Both Bidens maintain that there was nothing inappropriate about the trip and have said they didn’t discuss Hunter's business dealings in China. Hunter Biden had been on the board of a Chinese-backed company, which he has since left

Read more about the Trump and Biden camps' ads.

4 key takeaways from Night 3 of the DNC

WASHINGTON — Kamala Harris reintroduced herself to the nation she hopes to help govern as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made a case about the dire state of American democracy on the third night of the all-virtual Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.

Democrats showcased the diversity of their coalition, with every race and background represented and musical performances in Spanish and English, culminating in Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, accepting her party's nomination for vice president.

Here are four takeaways.

Elizabeth Warren celebrates Black Lives Matter movement in subtle way

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren subtly celebrated the Black Lives Matter movement with large block letters spelling out the acronym behind her as she delivered her speech Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention.

The letters “BLM” were seen sitting in cubbies over Warren’s shoulder as she spoke at the Early Childhood Education Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Though Warren didn’t point out the letters or explicitly talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, she said that Biden’s plan for president to “build back better” includes making the wealthy pay their fair share, holding corporations accountable, repairing racial inequities, and fighting corruption in Washington.

Read more about Warren’s subtle message here.

ANALYSIS: Obama breaks open convention by hammering Trump

Democrats lauded Barack Obama’s address to their convention on Wednesday for its value as a historical marker — a baring of the national moment in context — and yet the oratory of ideals also served as the velvet cover for a political hammer.

"Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t," Obama said. "And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone while those at the top take in more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before."

While Obama offered a brief assessment of Kamala Harris' abilities, and a longer testament to Joe Biden's, he came less to praise them than to bury Trump's political career. Passages delivered with historical allusions and homages to his own rhetoric of non-partisanship — "these shouldn’t be Republican principles or Democratic principles, they’re American principles" — adorned his scorn for Trump, but they did not hide it.

Read more of Jonathan Allen’s analysis here.