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Highlights and analysis from Democratic National Convention Day 3

Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi were among those who spoke.
Image: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Hillary Clinton
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The third night of the Democratic National Convention featured a must-see lineup of former and would-be presidents and a historic acceptance speech.

Sen. Kamala Harris, the first Black woman and Asian American on a major party ticket, delivered her vice-presidential acceptance speech Wednesday night, and former President Barack Obama spoke shortly before her. Former 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, 2020 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also took the virtual stage during a night that was heavy on policy specifics.

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This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading DNC news from August 20, 2020.

Trump campaign condemns Kenosha shooting following reports suspect was at rally

President Trump's campaign on Wednesday spoke out following reports that the suspect in the shooting of two people during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin expressed support for the president online.

A TikTok video, which was posted to an account associated with the suspect, Kyle Rittenhouse, recently surfaced following his arrest that appears to show him at a Trump rally at Drake University in January 2020.

“President Trump has repeatedly and consistently condemned all forms of violence and believes we must protect all Americans from chaos and lawlessness," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said. "This individual had nothing to do with our campaign and we fully support our fantastic law enforcement for their swift action in this case.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also issued a statement, calling on Democratic governors to deploy the National Gaurd in response to protests. 

"President Trump condemns violence in all forms and believes we must protect all Americans from chaos and lawlessness," she said. "We have assisted Wisconsin in the deployment of almost 1,000 National Guard and over 200 federal law enforcement personnel, which include FBI and U.S. Marshals.”

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has authorized members of the National Guard to help local law enforcement in Kenosha after the unrest, according to NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. 

Black mayors take the spotlight at the DNC

As the New York Times reporter Astead Herndon points out, there are a notable number of Black mayors featured during this week's convention.

While those mayors mark the progress of women and people of color in American politics, racial justice advocates and criminal justice reformers would prefer those local officials had been more progressive in implementing policy on the front lines. 

For instance, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had been broadly celebrated on the left when she won the mayorship in 2019, as a Black lesbian taking the reins of the third-largest city in the United States. But Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor and former president of the Chicago Police Board, has been criticized for her resistance to demands by local police reform leaders, as well as some of decisions throughout her career.

Similarly, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser gained national notoriety for standing off against President Trump and reclaiming Lafayette Square across the street from the White House as Black Lives Matter Plaza. But as NBC's Janell Ross wrote earlier this week:

In recent weeks, protesters in Washington have criticized Bowser’s opposition to one of the protest movement’s chief demands: reallocating funding from the city’s police department to social programs and services. Bowser, who backed the billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg during the Democratic presidential primary, described the plan to reallocate police funding as unsound and actively worked to block the change.

Democratic convention's focus on racial justice omits policy demands of BLM protesters

In some ways, this shouldn't be too much of a surprise since the DNC this week has focused its messaging on less "radical," more middle-of-the-road policies and figures; it may be de rigueur to proclaim that Black lives matter, but the question becomes whether those making the proclamations understand the demands behind the protests.

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4 key takeaways from Wednesday night's DNC

Kamala Harris re-introduced herself to the nation she hopes to help govern as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made a dire case about the 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 both 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.

Harris makes history, accepts vice presidential nomination in rousing speech

Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic Party's vice presidential nomination in a prime-time convention speech Wednesday that walked voters through her personal story, pitched them on the necessity of electing Joe Biden and herself this fall, and blasted President Trump's "incompetence" and "callousness" in the Oval Office.

Harris made history with her acceptance of the nomination as the first Black or Asian American woman to appear on a major party's presidential ticket. The California senator is just the fourth woman to be on such a ticket, after 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Harris spoke at length about her family and backstory, particularly the role her mother played in her life before she died of cancer. Harris then touched on her career as a prosecutor and state attorney general, saying she's "fought for children, and survivors of sexual assault."

"I’ve fought against transnational gangs," she said. "I took on the biggest banks, and helped take down one of the biggest for-profit colleges."

"I know a predator when I see one," she added in a moment that caught the attention of many people watching.

On her vision of the country, Harris says it is of a place "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."

Harris said she and Biden share values and 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."

On Trump, Harris said his "failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods" and said COVID-19's disproportionate impact on Black and brown communities is a byproduct of "structural racism."

"We’re at an inflection point," she said. "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."

"Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons," Harris said. "Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose." 

Harris was the featured star of the convention's third night. She spoke after speeches from three of the Democratic Party's most prominent women leaders — Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren — and immediately after a rousing and emotional address by Barack Obama.

"Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy," Harris said, adding that she and Biden "may fall short."

"But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly," she said. "We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us."

Concluding her speech, Harris said, "Years from now, this moment will have passed and our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high?"

"And we will tell them ... not just how we felt," she said. "We will tell them what we did."

NBC News presidential historian: Why Obama's speech was unprecedented

Trump explodes at Harris speech

The Trump campaign has been pushing a message that Harris was “disrespectful” to Biden during the Democratic primary and it is, they say, incomprehensible that Biden would pick her to be his running mate. 

Harris called out Biden for his past positions on busing during a primary debate, but she went out of her way to say that she did not believe Biden to be a racist.

Pass the tissues?

From 11-year-old Estella recounting how her mother was deported to the devastating stories of domestic violence and Kamala Harris' family stories, tonight's DNC brought on the tears in a lot of people.

Former President Barack Obama appeared to choke up briefly, too, describing the racism Black Americans have faced in pursuit of their voting rights.

“Black Americans chained and whipped and hanged, spit on for trying to sit at lunch counters, beaten for trying to vote," he said. "If anyone had a right to believe this democracy didn't work and couldn't work, it was those Americans."

Inside the room where Kamala Harris gave her unusual convention speech

DNC

When Kamala Harris took the stage on Wednesday night, it looked very different from past conventions. 

What this would normally look like: music blaring; a convention floor jam-packed with party faithful; the energy and buzz of an excited crowd. Instead, inside the Chase Convention Center on Wednesday are blue carpet pads on the floor (dividing reporters into socially distanced boxes), making it so the limited voices are muffled and the sound of footsteps is absorbed. There are pylons for all U.S. states and territories but in place of delegates and a raucous audience, there is a handful of reporters waiting before the stage in the Wilmington Hall room. 

The most jarring thing? The eerie quiet and the shadows cast by the lights on the state pylons.

Then when it was done, the ticket and their spouses waved as they would to a crowd, which was only the small group reporters, photographers, and Secret Service agents in the room. 

Biden will be back here in the same room, Wilmington Hall, for his speech tomorrow night.