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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 NBCNews.com 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.

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. 

Biden uses Obama's words to clap back at Trump

 

Harris' family introduces her ahead of marquee convention speech

Kamala Harris was introduced ahead of her marquee speech Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention by her sister Maya Harris, niece Meena Harris and stepdaughter Ella Emhoff, who testified to her personal qualities.

Meena Harris said her aunt is her "role model, who taught me I could do and be anything I wanted." Maya Harris said her sister was her "very first friend, my confidante, my partner in mischief and in justice."

Emhoff said her stepmother is "a rock, not just for our dad but for three generations of our big, blended family."

"I love you; I admire you; I am so proud of you," Maya said. "And even though Mommy’s not here to see her first daughter step into history, the entire nation will see in your strength, your integrity, your intelligence, and your optimism the values that she raised us with."

"We love you, Momala," Emhoff said.

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.