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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.

NBC News will air a special report from 10 to 11 p.m. ET, and MSNBC will have convention coverage from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., with special coverage beginning at 9 p.m. NBC News Now will livestream the convention, with special coverage starting at 8 p.m. Follow us here on for breaking news, analysis and fact checks.

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

Obama delivers blistering speech against Trump at DNC

Former President Obama delivered his most blistering speech yet against President Trump in his prime-time appearance on Day 3 of the DNC, becoming visibly emotional during his roughly 20-minute remarks. 

Obama spoke from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy. With the Constitution as his backdrop, he slammed Trump, saying he has proven he cannot do the job — speaking directly to disaffected and undecided voters. 

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said. "One-hundred-and-seventy-thousand 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.”

Obama said Biden and Harris will "restore our standing in the world" and move the country forward, and continued to hammer Trump and "those who enable him."

"They understand that in this democracy, the commander-in-chief doesn’t use the men and women of our military, who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation, as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil," he said. "They understand that political opponents aren’t 'un-American' just because they disagree with you; that a free press isn’t the 'enemy' but the way we hold officials accountable; that our ability to work together to solve big problems like a pandemic depends on a fidelity to facts and science and logic and not just making stuff up."

He called on Americans to make a plan on how they will vote, stressing the importance of voter turnout. As he spoke about voting rights and democracy, noting the conversations he had with the late civil rights advocate and congressman John Lewis, Obama appeared to get teary-eyed, with his voice almost cracking.

"I am asking you to believe in Joe and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of these dark times and build it back better," Obama said. "But here’s the thing: No single American can fix this country alone. ... 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." 

"Do not let them take away your power," he later added. "Do not let them take away your democracy. Make a plan right now for how you’re going to get involved and vote."

Last-minute lineup switch

Barack Obama and Kamala Harris had a last-minute switch, with Obama delivering his speech first.

Harris will now close the program with her acceptance speech.

Trump is watching Obama...


Domestic violence prevention gets unexpected prominence at DNC

The Violence Against Women's Act was one of Joe Biden's biggest domestic legislative accomplishments during his 36 years in the U.S. Senate, which is likely why domestic violence prevention got an unexpected feature at Wednesday night's DNC. 

Biden authored the law, known as VAWA, as part of a sweeping crime bill he helped write and usher through Congress in 1994. 

Biden has taken considerable criticism for his work on the crime bill, a bipartisan piece of legislation that at the time was considered an effort to curb crime and stem a national drug crisis. But in the intervening decades, the legislation has been blamed for unfairly targeting minorities and filling prisons with black men. 

But the Violence Against Women Act portion of the crime bill package has largely remained popular. The legislation gives federal officials more power in combating domestic violence. 

VAWA was reauthorized by Congress with bipartisan support three more times. But in 2018, opposition by Republicans to Democratic efforts to add protections for transgender people resulted in the law expiring.

Old clips highlight Biden's place in history

These decades-old clips of Biden’s work in the Senate are doing double duty tonight, highlighting both a key legislative achievement and the fact that Biden was on the right side of history in advocating for women suffering in silence in a society that ignored their plight as a private issue. 

It’s arguably the overarching argument of the entire Democratic convention: Which side of history do you want to be on when it comes to immigration, gun violence, climate change, and a devastating pandemic?

It's a pitch that carefully sidesteps the parts of Biden's decades-long record that came under scrutiny amid the primary — including his opposition to bussing, his handling of Anita Hill's sexual harassment claims, and his work writing a crime bill that disproportionately locked up people of color. 

Democrats are capitalizing on the Latino voter gender gap

Eva Longoria Baston, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Rep. Veronica Escobar. There's a reason why many prominent Latinas are getting some prime spots.

The gender gap among Latinos is bigger than it is among Black or white voters. Latino men are more likely to back Trump than Latinas, who are more likely to support a Democrat.

Hillary's right: Why Joe Biden and Kamala Harris could win by '3 million votes' and 'still lose'

Somewhere near the beginning of the end of Hillary Clinton’s virtual DNC speech Wednesday night came a staggering reminder of the 2016 election. 

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris could win the popular vote by 3 million ballots and still lose the White House, Clinton said. 

“Believe me,” Clinton said. “I know.” 

When the ballots cast in the 2016 election were tallied, Clinton had 2.9 million more popular votes cast in her favor than Donald Trump. But President Trump’s victories in an ideal combination of states gave him a victory with the Electoral College

That pathway was so narrow that Trump won one of those states, Michigan, by fewer than 11,000 votes. The result set off a fresh wave of debate and attempts to challenge the utility and fairness of the Electoral College, a system that indirectly selects the president of the United States. It drew attention to the system’s origins and historical purpose: to boost the political power of slave states. It continues to shape which states command the greatest political influence and attention today. 

Warren promotes Biden's economic agenda, says Trump 'failed miserably' at handling the pandemic

Elizabeth Warren delivered the capstone speech during the Democratic National Convention's economic-focused segment Wednesday, detailing how the pandemic has harmed millions of Americans, why Joe Biden can help bring a recovery and how Donald Trump is the one to blame.

Warren, speaking from the Springfield Early Childhood Education Center in Massachusetts, sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination this cycle and was a contender to serve as Biden's running mate.

"Tonight we’ve heard from the people who make America work, people who put their lives on the line to keep our country going, and since COVID-19 hit, they’ve taken one gut punch after another," Warren said. "And what has the COVID fallout done to our babies? ... Childcare was already hard to find before the pandemic. And now, parents are stuck — no idea when schools can safely reopen and even fewer childcare options. The devastation is enormous."

"And the way I see it: big problems demand big solutions," she continued. "I love a good plan, and Joe Biden has some really good plans." Warren said those plans "reflect a central truth: our economic system has been rigged to give bailouts to billionaires and kick dirt in the face of everyone else."

She offered effusive praise for Biden's childcare plan, saying it "will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker."

"That’s just one plan, but it gives you an idea of how we get this country working for everyone," she said. "Donald Trump’s ignorance and incompetence have always been a danger to our country."

"COVID-19 was Trump’s biggest test," she continued. "He failed miserably."

"This crisis is on Donald Trump and the Republicans who enable him," she said. "On November 3, we hold them all accountable."

After going light on policy, DNC brings the goods on Night 3

The first two nights of the Democratic convention featured plenty about Joe Biden, President Trump and the challenges the U.S. faces.

Those were mostly broad strokes. On Wednesday, the convention shifted to a policy-heavy night with segments focused on some of the topics that Biden and Democrats hope to push: gun control, climate change, immigration, domestic violence and the economy.

It was on domestic violence that the night's policy theme stood out the most. A video segment featured first-hand accounts of the violence women face every day, something rarely heard at a high-profile political event. 

Pelosi celebrates women's suffrage, hits Trump for 'disrespect'

Nancy Pelosi — the first woman to serve as speaker of the House — celebrated the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote in her address to the DNC. 

Pelosi highlighted that the House Democratic majority is the most diverse in history, with "more than 60 percent women, people of color and LGBTQ."

Pelosi's popularity in the party has skyrocketed during the Trump administration as she has won praise for outmaneuvering him in political negotiations. She continues to frequently draw his ire.

Pelosi listed a number of policy priorities that congressional Democrats have proposed that have stalled — from voting rights to lowering the cost of prescription drugs. 

"All of this is possible for America. Who is standing in the way? Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump," she said.

Pelosi said that as speaker she has witnessed Trump's "disrespect" throughout his term. 

"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," she said. 

Pelosi called for the country to elect Joe Biden and "rid the country of Trump's heartless disregard for America's goodness."

Hillary Clinton urges people to vote so Trump 'can't sneak or steal his way to victory'

Live from her living room in Chappaqua, New York, Hillary Clinton warned voters during Night 3 of the DNC not to underestimate "how dangerous" President Donald Trump is after four years in office.

"Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are," she said. 

Clinton's remarks came nearly four years after she lost the 2016 election following a heated general election in which Trump routinely directed vitriol at Clinton, a former secretary of state, senator and first lady. Chants of "lock her up" at rallies and references to "Crooked Hillary" by Trump continued long after the election.

Invoking past fights for voting rights, Clinton implored Americans to vote by mail if they can, to become poll workers and to wear masks and take friends if they vote in person. Clinton referred to her popular vote victory and her loss in the Electoral College when urging voters to head the polls. 

"Remember, Joe and Kamala can win 3 million more votes and still lose. Take. It. From. Me. We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can't sneak or steal his way to victory." 

Clinton also gave a word of encouragement to Kamala Harris, calling her "relentless in the pursuit of justice and uncommonly kind," and warned about the sexism she will face during the election. 

"I know a thing or two about the slings and arrows coming her way. Kamala can handle them all," she said. "This is the team to pull our nation back from the brink and build back better. But they can't do it without all of us."