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

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

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