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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.

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." 

Kerry Washington, while hosting DNC, tweets with 8th grade constitutional law teacher

Biden appeal on immigration comes in year of record immigrants eligible to vote

The next policy segment was focused on immigration, featuring a video montage of families affected by President Donald Trump's immigration policies and a bilingual performance from Dominican American singer-songwriter Prince Royce.

Democrats spotlighted the deportations of the spouse of a former Marine and Iraq War veteran and of a young undocumented immigrant with spina bifida to portray Joe Biden's views on immigration.

They underscored their stories with the words of former President Barack Obama, who said: "Tension throughout our history between welcoming or rejecting the stranger is about more than just immigration. It's about the meaning of America."

Trump has been accused of racism and inhumanity for his hard-line immigration policies, but Biden has had to reassure voters that he is trustworthy on the issue given the record number of deportations during Obama's administration. 

This election, a record 23 million immigrants will be eligible to vote.

Climate change, gun control and Billie Eilish: A nod to Gen Z voters

The first leg of Wednesday's DNC was a clear nod to Gen Z and the issues they care about most.

The March for Our Lives was a seminal moment following countless school shootings, and the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Since then, Gen Z has also rallied around the climate crisis with the global climate strike last year, and built up organizations like the Sunrise Movement to rally for efforts like the Green New Deal. Both movements got their due during the DNC through the voices and experiences of young people. 

And then they cap it off with Billie Eilish in a spooky forest? An insightful touch.

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Democrats focus on women on night 3

In a powerful video montage, the Democrats celebrated the historic number of women in elected office and paid tribute to the leaders who paved that path — from Shirley Chisholm to Hillary Clinton. 

The video showed images of the 2017 Women's March and mashups of the wave of newly elected women that shook up Congress and governor's mansions in 2018 such as New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Following that video were speeches from some of the most prominent women in politics, including Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, who both wore white as a nod to suffragettes.

Climate change prominently featured on Day 3 of DNC

Joe Biden's record on climate change took center stage in the opening of Day 3 of the Democratic convention. 

It opened with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico talking about how her state is a blueprint of what can be done nationwide on climate policy. She said Trump, who has called global warming a "hoax," represents "environmental annihilation." 

"While the Trump administration has been eliminating environmental protections, we’ve expanded them. While they’ve been rolling back regulations on oil and gas companies, we’ve taken on polluters and held them accountable," she said. "We’re laying a roadmap for a just 21st century America, one where we lead with compassion."

She said Biden will take us all the way will rejoin the international climate agreement so the U.S. can build a "clean, green 21st century." 

It also featured former climate scientists and researchers who worked in the Trump administration. The officials said the administration did not care about climate policy and in one case wanted to change a government report that concluded humans are one of the drivers of global warming. 

In a nod to the party's younger, progressive wing, the segment also featured young activists who are organizing youth around climate change, such as 15-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor. 

"Joe Biden won't solve this crisis in four years, not one can but he will put us back on track so our generation can have a fighting chance," she said.  

The segment was punctuated with singer Billie Eilish, who has been outspoken about climate change, performing her new song "My Future." 

Emotional reactions to DNC gun control segment pour in

A quick climate change segment, but Biden's plan is deep

Next up at the convention were a series of videos and an address from New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tackling climate change, the first significant part of the convention dedicated to the topic.

Climate activists would almost certainly want more time, but Joe Biden's climate plan has received plaudits.

Biden's $2 trillion plan could create the kind of change necessary to avert the more catastrophic consequences of climate change, activists and scientists told NBC News' Denise Chow.

"We're talking about major investments in every corner of the country and every ZIP code," said Steve Capanna, the director of U.S. climate policy and analysis for the Environmental Defense Fund, a New York-based advocacy group. "That's a great way to put people of diverse income levels and diverse skill sets back to work in a way that will be rebuilding better than just going back to the way things were before."

Gun control takes center stage at Democratic convention

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head in 2011, capped off a segment on gun control at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, saying "we are at a crossroads" on guns.

"I’ve known the darkest of days, days of pain and uncertain recovery. But confronted by despair, I’ve summoned hope," Giffords said. "Confronted by paralysis and aphasia, I’ve responded with grit and determination. I put one foot in front of the other. I found one word and then I found another. My recovery is a daily fight, but fighting makes me stronger. Words once came easily; today I struggle with speech."

"But I have not lost my voice," she continued. "America needs all of us to speak out, even when you have to fight to find the words. We are at a crossroads. We can let the shooting continue or we can act. We can protect our families, our future. We can vote. We can be on the right side of history. We must elect Joe Biden. He was there for me; he’ll be there for you, too."

Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, is the Democratic nominee for Senate in Arizona this fall.

 

Giffords followed speeches from gun activists including Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland, Florida, high school student who survived the 2018 school shooting, and DeAndra Dycus, whose son was left paralyzed after being shot with a stray bullet at 13 years old.

Dycus, wearing a Mom's Demand Action shirt, said, "Yes, I can touch DeAndre, I can hold his hand, but the child that I birthed is not able to live his dreams, and that hurts."

"Every day we’re reminded that he may never be the same," she said. "We are not alone. In every town across America, there are families who know what a bullet can do. That’s why I’m a mom who volunteers to stop this."

"President Trump? He doesn’t care," she continued. "He didn’t care about the victims after Parkland, Las Vegas, or El Paso. I want a President who cares about our pain and grief, a president who will take on the gun lobby to ban assault weapons and close the loopholes to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Joe Biden has taken on the NRA twice and won. And he will do it again as president."

What was not heavily noted tonight was the shooting in El Paso, Texas, just over a year ago that left 20 dead. The accused shooter, who is facing the death penalty, confessed to targeting people of Mexican descent, according to court documents. 

Washington poses for a selfie with Harris' family