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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

Democrats seize the optimism that Trump surrendered

PHILADELPHIA -- As soon as President Obama finished his speech here Wednesday night, it was immediately clear that Donald Trump and Republicans made a fundamental mistake by abandoning a hopeful, optimistic message in Cleveland. And Obama and the Democrats seized that message. “America is already great. America is already strong,” Obama declared. “Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill.’ Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix.It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not actually offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear.”

Vice President Joe Biden added, “We do not scare easy. We never bow, we never bend, we never break when confronted with crisis. We endure, we overcome, and we always, always, always move forward.” Former George W. Bush spokesman Tony Fratto tweeted, “Watching Democrats talk about America the way Republican candidates used to talk about America.” Oof. Over the last seven and a half years, Republicans have criticized Obama for not believing in American exceptionalism. But last night, Obama and the Democrats owned the optimistic message about the country,

Two different conclusions to two different speeches

Indeed, as Politico’s Dan Diamond pointed out, just look at the difference of how Trump and Obama concluded their convention speeches.

TRUMP: “America is a nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics. Remember: All of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want, are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. No longer can we rely on those same people in the media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place. Instead, we must choose to Believe In America. History is watching us now. It’s waiting to see if we will rise to the occasion, and if we will show the whole world that America is still free and independent and strong.”
OBAMA: “Time and again, you’ve picked me up. And I hope, sometimes, I picked you up, too. And tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me. Because you're who I was talking about 12 years ago when I talked about hope. It’s been you who fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds were great; even when the road is long. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope.”

You could tell Obama had been waiting for months to make this high-profile rebuttal to Trump.

Obama, Biden, Bloomberg all unload on Trump

For the Clinton campaign, Night Three went about as well as it could have hoped -- it featured some of the most credible Democratic and independent voices (Obama, Biden, Bloomberg). And so if this convention can’t move numbers for Clinton, it’s hard to see if anything will. Next week’s polls will be fascinating. What’s more, these voices unloaded on Trump. Here’s Obama: “The Donald is not really a plans guy. He's not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated.” Here’s Biden: “He's trying to tell us he cares about the middle class, give me a break. That's a bunch of malarkey.” And here’s Bloomberg: “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.”

Obama separates Trump from the GOP

Strikingly, Obama last night didn’t try to tie the Republican Party to Trump; instead, he attempted to separate the GOP from Trump. “Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s precisely this contest of ideas that pushes our country forward,” he said. “But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican -- and it sure wasn’t conservative,” he said. “What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems -- just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate. And that is not the America I know.” Bottom line: Obama gave the Paul Ryans and Mitch McConnells a pass.

Hillary’s tough act to follow

You could argue, over the span of the last three days, that First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Obama delivered some of the big speeches they’ve given in their public lives at the convention. And they’re going to be a tough act for Hillary Clinton to follow tonight, since these types of speeches have never been her forte. The Clinton campaign gives this guidance about her speech: “Clinton's speech is expected to draw upon the principle that has driven her throughout her career -- that America is at its best when everyone has the chance to fulfill their God-given potential. To show the constancy of this theme in her life, she is expected to invoke her 1996 book, ‘It Takes a Village,’ which was in many ways the forerunner to her 2016 theme ‘Stronger Together.’” She will be introduced tonight by her daughter, Chelsea.

Day Four Lineup

In addition to Clinton’s featured address, other speakers tonight include Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Gen. (ret) John Allen, and former Reagan administration official Doug Elmets

Trump: “Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing”

A final point about yesterday: Donald Trump’s suggestion for the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails has the real potential to backfire -- and invite more scrutiny about Russia’s role in this election. Here’s NBC’s Ali Vitali: “Donald Trump asked Russia to help "find" the missing emails from Hillary Clinton's private server during a Wednesday press conference here at his Florida resort. ‘Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,’ Trump proposed from a podium at his Doral Resort. ‘I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’” It’s a stunning statement for a presidential candidate to ask a foreign power to hack into the emails of a major presidential candidate.

On the trail

Trump, in Iowa, holds rallies in Davenport at 5:00 pm ET and Cedar Rapids at 9:00 pm ET… And Mike Pence campaigns in Michigan.