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Kamala Harris gets her biggest moment in the spotlight yet

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris listens as Joe Biden speaks following a coronavirus briefing with health experts at the Hotel DuPont on August 13, 2020 in Wilmington, Del.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The first night of the Democratic convention was about throwing a political uppercut at President Trump and stressing the urgency of the election.

The second night was about highlighting Joe Biden’s empathy and family story through Dr. Jill Biden’s concluding remarks.

And tonight comes the Democrats’ introduction of Kamala Harris, the first woman of color to be nominated on a major party’s presidential ticket. (And after Harris’ speech comes the address from the country’s first Black president, Barack Obama.)

We apologize, this video has expired.

By selecting her as his 2020 running mate, Biden signaled that Harris — a woman born to immigrants from Jamaica and India — represents the party’s next generation of leaders.

And we’ll see if the 55-year-old Harris delivers.

In addition to throwing punches at Trump and telling Biden’s life story, the Democratic convention has trotted out Republican endorsements to undercut the GOP argument that Biden is an empty vessel for progressives. And it’s given a prominent role to average American voices — whether in video spots or in last night’s colorful roll-call vote.

The one remaining puzzle is what Biden does with his acceptance speech on Thursday, especially since the Democratic convention has been pretty light on the policy front.

We’ll find out tomorrow.

Tweet of the day

No hoax

A bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday detailed extensive ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia, NBC’s Ken Dilanian writes.

The report says that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort met regularly with Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the committee identified as a Russian intelligence officer, and that Manafort shared internal Trump polling data with him.

It says that two of the Russia participants in that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting had extensive connections to the Russian government and its intelligence services.

It says that Donald Trump most likely DID speak with Roger Stone about the WikiLeaks disclosures during the campaign, despite Trump telling special counsel Robert Mueller that he didn’t recall any such conversations.

And the New York Times adds that while the report didn’t find any compromising material the Russian government had on Trump, it spent pages describing Trump’s relationships with women on his trips to Moscow, including a former Miss Moscow.

The Senate Intel findings didn’t conclude that the Trump campaign engaged in an explicit, coordinated conspiracy with the Russia government. But like the Mueller report, it said the Russian government worked to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton — and that the Trump campaign was eager to receive that help.

Also, with the election 76 days away, the report is a fresh reminder of what Trump and his supporters are willing to do to win an election.

U.S. Postal Service reverses course

“The U.S. Postal Service will suspend any policy or operational changes until after the presidential election, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Tuesday,” per NBC News.

“Critics claimed that DeJoy was hindering the agency's ability to accommodate an expected surge in mail-in voting, which he denied.”

Clearly, this news became unsustainable for Team Trump. The question is how/whether DeJoy plans to follow through when he testifies to Congress later this week.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

5,500,953: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 39,664 more than yesterday morning.)

172,783: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,177 more than yesterday morning.)

68.26 million: The number of coronavirus TESTS administered in the U.S., according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

8: How many days Notre Dame’s semester lasted until in-person classes were halted due to a coronavirus outbreak.

8: The number of House incumbents who have lost renomination, after Rep. Ross Spano’s primary defeat in Florida last night.

2020 Vision

Day Three’s lineup at the Dem convention: Here are the speakers at tonight’s Democratic convention, which will take place from 9:00 pm ET to 11:00 pm ET:

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
  • Former Rep. Gabby Giffords
  • VP nominee Kamala Harris
  • Barack Obama

Ad watch from Ben Kamisar

Today’s Ad Watch takes a look at the state of battleground TV and radio advertising, and finds that as the fundraising race has tightened over the last few months, Joe Biden is significantly outpacing President Trump in the states key to the path to 270 electoral votes.

From Aug. 11 through Aug. 17, the Biden campaign outspent the Trump campaign $16 million to $7.4 million, according to data from Advertising Analytics. And that overall advantage translates to a significant edge in battleground ad spending, too.

Over that same week, Biden outspent Trump in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada, the latter four states where the Trump campaign hasn’t spent significant ad money in at least two weeks.

The only states where Trump had the ad spending edge that were Georgia and New Mexico, two states where neither Biden nor his top affiliated outside groups have spent significant money on TV or radio ads in.

Read more on the MTP Blog.

Go your own way

Senate Republicans have drafted a new coronavirus relief bill, per NBC’s Hill team, after negotiations over the earlier bill broke down last week.

The new bill addresses postal service funding in an attempt to restart talks.

Per our team, “the new version is smaller and cheaper than the Senate GOP’s $1 trillion HEALS Act. Republican aides say it could open the door to negotiations because it addresses immediate needs and eases the economic strain of the Postal Service. Furthermore, and the smaller price tag is likely to attract the support of more Senate Republicans.”

Of course, the legislation is unlikely to get Democratic support.

Here’s what’s in the new bill as it currently stands:

  • Liability protections
  • $157 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program
  • $300 per week for unemployment insurance
  • $16 billion for testing
  • $105 billion for education
  • About $30 billion for COVID response, therapeutics, vaccine funding and diagnostics

The Lid: Throwing away their shot

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we delved into new data about which Americans say they’d definitely get a coronavirus vaccine if an approved one was widely available.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

If you missed yesterday’s convention highlights, we have you covered on our NBCNews.com live blog here.

Black security guard Jacquelyn Brittany was the first person to put Joe Biden’s name in for nomination last night. Here’s her story.

The New York Times previews Hillary Clinton’s remarks tonight.

Joe Biden is raising millions from “climate donors.”

Major big business groups are warning that companies won’t participate in Trump’s payroll tax cut plan.

Trump praised Laura Loomer, who once described herself as a “#ProudIslamophobe,” for her win in a Florida House primary last night.

The European Union is now threatening sanctions over the Belarus election.