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DNC 2020: Michelle Obama gives powerful speech after Bernie Sanders calls on viewers to fight against 'bigotry' and back Biden

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Griffin Connolly
Washington DC
,Justin Vallejo
Tuesday 18 August 2020 04:38
George Floyd family lead powerful tribute and moment of silence at DNC

The Democratic National Convention kicked off with some last-minute guests as the family of George Floyd led a moment of silence to mark the start of the first day, titled "We the People".

Michelle Obama headlined the evening's proceedings, ripping into the president's record saying "you simply cannot fake your way through this job" as she pleaded with Democrat voters not to stay at home or cast a protest vote in 2020. "Joe is not perfect, and he'd be the first to tell you that," Ms Obama says. "But there is no perfect candidate, no perfect president, and his ability to learn and grow, we find in that the kind of humility and maturity that so many of us yearn for now."

Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, said Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but Trump golfs while his actions fanned the coronavirus pandemic to kill more than 170,000 Americans in a nation unprepared to protect its people.

Mr Sanders made a direct appeal to his supporters to unify around Joe Biden, highlighting the candidate's progressive credentials on issues that only a few years ago would have been considered radical.

A running theme through the first night was on restoring the "Soul of America", as Democrats and Republicans alike devoted the majority of the virtual real estate to the current president.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser accused Donald Trump of 'plotting' with his bible photo at St John's Church as the daughter of a Covid-19 victim said her father's only pre-existing condition was a Trump presidency.

Republican leaders including former Ohio governor John Kasich, former New Jersey governor Christine Whitman, and former New York City congresswoman Susan Molinari lent their voices to their one-time rivals.

Democrat establishment figures like Andrew Cuomo, Jim Clyburn, and Amy Klobuchar all gave strong endorsements of their party's presidential nominee, even if some of their jokes and one-liners, aiming for inspirational resonance, seemed to linger without reaction in the virtual void of a Zoom meeting.

Mr Biden, meanwhile, appeared briefly during a round table on racism with Gwen Garner, mother of Eric Garner, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, and other social justice activists.


Biden still ahead of Trump in polls as convention commences

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continues to lead Donald Trump in the polls by nearly double-digit margins as the first day of the Democratic National Convention commences.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday showed Mr Biden with a 9-point lead nationally, although that advantage could be more fragile than it appears.

Fifty-eight per cent of Biden voters said their support for him is based more on their opposition to Mr Trump, while just 38 per cent said it's based on their support for the actual candidate, the poll found.

That contrasts sharply to Mr Trump's voters, 74 per cent of whom said they are more for the president, compared to just 20 per cent who said they are more against Mr Biden.

In other new polls, from CBS/YouGov and Fox News, Mr Biden held advantages of 10 points and 7 points, respectively.

Griffin Connolly reports:

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 15:08

DNC Chairman Perez outlines how Democrats plan to attack Trump at convention

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has said Monday's speaking portion of the convention will focus on portraying Donald Trump as a "chronically incompetent" president — from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, to US unemployment that is in the double digits, to the continued reality of racial injustice.

While no reasonable solution could have completely prevented the Covid-19 pandemic from eventually landing on US shores, better policies and leadership could have prevented thousands of the more than 170,000 American deaths from the disease, Mr Perez said on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

"This is why we need leadership that is competent — that is Joe Biden," he said.

Mr Perez also criticised the president for his stated desire to undermine the US Postal Service to prevent universal mail-in voting this November, which Mr Trump has claimed, without evidence, would be rife with fraud.

The DNC has sued multiple jurisdictions over absentee ballots to make it easier for Americans to vote by mail, and Mr Perez said Mr Trump's transparent comments about his intentions is helping the Democrats' cases.

"Every day that this administration does what it does by playing politics with the Postal Service, they are making our record for us,” Mr Perez said.

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 15:27

Ex-primary rival Sanders rallies for Biden on Day One

In just five short months, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders went from bitter rivals on the presidential campaign trail to clear-eyed allies in the fight to take down Donald Trump this November.

At their one-on-one debate in March, Mr Sanders was unsparing.

"You have been on the floor of the Senate time and time again, touting the need to cut Social Security, Medicare and veterans' programs," the Vermont senator said to Mr Biden, triggering a vociferous defence from the former vice president.

Mr Sanders also warned Mr Biden he would lose to Mr Trump "unless you have energy, excitement, the largest voter turnout in history," saying he had his "doubts."

Now Mr Sanders, the mantle-holder of the American progressive movement, will headline the Democratic National Convention's opening night supporting his former rival's nomination.

Opposing Mr Biden's campaign is "irresponsible," Mr Sanders has said, although many of his former campaign aides have done just that.

More on Bernie World's reaction to Mr Biden picking Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate last week:

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 15:55

House members on double duty as Pelosi calls lawmakers back to Washington

Several members of the US House are scheduled to speak on the Democratic National Convention's opening night even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings them back to Washington to hold the Trump administration's feet to the fire over its handling of the US Postal Service and mail-in voting.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Convention Chairman and Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, and Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin — who are all black — will speak at the convention on Monday.

Democrats are looking to cast themselves as proactive in the fight against racial injustice, a sharp contrast to the hostile response of the Trump administration to the recent wave of anti-police brutality protests this summer.

One of the advantages of holding the convention virtually is that members of Congress who are slated to speak can be complete their official House business at the same time.

Ms Pelosi has teed up a vote later this week on a bill to prohibit the USPS from discontinuing or diminishing any of its services.

"Alarmingly, across the nation, we see the devastating effects of the President's campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters," she wrote in a letter to her caucus on Sunday.

"Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, one of the top Trump mega-donors, has proven a complicit crony as he continues to push forward sweeping new operational changes that degrade postal service, delay the mail, and — according to the Postal Service itself — threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming elections in a timely fashion," Ms Pelosi said.

Read more about Democrats' oversight of the USPS:

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 16:21

Biden campaign manager confident Democrats can win GOP strongholds Georgia, Texas, others

Joe Biden campaign manager Jennifer O'Malley Dillon has said Democrats are "on offense" this November, eyeing to flip several states such as Texas, Georgia, and Ohio that have somewhat slipped from GOP dominance over the last three and a half years since Donald Trump became president.

"You look at states like Ohio and Iowa and Georgia and Texas, all of those states are on the map. We're within the margin [of error]. We're ahead depending on what polling you're looking at, and we are doing the work to ensure that they're in play," Ms O'Malley Dillon said in an interview with The Washington Post previewing the Democratic National Convention.

While some polls from late June and early July showed Mr Biden leading Mr Trump in Texas and Georgia, Mr Trump maintains a 3.5 percentage point advantage in Texas according to his RealClearPolitics average there.

In Georgia, where less public polling has been conducted, the picture is even murkier. Mr Biden trails the president by an RCP average of just 1 percentage point.

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 16:38

Convention officially begins

The Democratic National Convention officially has officially commenced, with meetings of various caucuses and councils throughout the day.

From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the East Coast the DNC's Hispanic Caucus will meet virtually at an event that can be live streamed on the national party's website.

And the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is hosting a virtual training event from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. to "give participants a look behind-the-scenes of political campaigns and prepare them with the skills, knowledge, and tools to find meaningful campaign volunteer experiences," according to the DNC.

The schedule of Monday's events can be found here.

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 17:02

Kasich, other 'prominent' Republicans to endorse Biden on Monday

Former Ohio Governor John Kasich, who was the last Republican to drop out of contention against Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, is one of several former Republican lawmakers scheduled to come out in support of Joe Biden's candidacy on Monday evening.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Sunday whether other Republicans would come out in support of Mr Biden, Mr Kasich hinted that a "prominent" former GOP congressman would follow suit.

By putting Mr Kasich, a former GOP governor, up on stage alongside such progressive figureheads as Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Democrats hope to show the bloc of undecided, independent swing voters that Mr Biden's candidacy has a broad base of support from all over the political spectrum.

Americans are "rising up" to confront Mr Trump's handling of coronavirus, unemployment, and racial injustice, the DNC wrote in its statement previewing Monday's events, in an attempt to "unite our country."

Other Republicans slated to speak on Monday are former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, who also served as Environmental Protection Agency administrator under George W Bush; Meg Whitman, who ran for governor of California as a Republican in 2010; and former Congresswoman Susan Molinari of New York, who chaired the House GOP conference from 1995 to 1997.

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 17:15

Trump once again warns of mail-in fraud for 2020 election

"A Rigged Election?" Donald Trump asked rhetorically in a tweet on Monday ahead of the first night of speeches at the Democratic National Convention, where Democrats are expected to hammer him for undermining US Postal Service operations ahead of the 3 November election.

While the president has never provided evidence of widespread mail-in voting fraud, he has continually sounded the alarm that people could illegally harvest or destroy mail-in ballots in drop boxes.

"Some states use 'drop boxes' for the collection of Universal Mail-In Ballots. So who is going to 'collect' the Ballots, and what might be done to them prior to tabulation? A Rigged Election? So bad for our Country. Only Absentee Ballots acceptable!" he tweeted on Monday.


Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the House back into session to vote on a bill to prevent the Trump administration and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump megadonor, from halting certain operations and procedures that experts say have slowed down the delivery of the mail drastically in recent weeks.

Ms Pelosi has accused Mr Trump of trying to rig the election by suppressing the mail-in vote and casting doubt on the integrity of the election.

More on that accusation here:

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 17:32

Winning over the skeptics

Despite his steady lead in the polls and the ideological breadth of public figures supporting him at the Democratic National Convention this week, Joe Biden must still win over his skeptics from the left.

Among those is Independent Voices contributor Carli Pierson, who writes in her latest column that she feels "disgusted" by the binary choice between Mr Biden and Donald Trump.

"I feel I have no choice but to vote for the lesser of the two evils this time, even though I know that this is not what progress looks like," Ms Pierson writes.

Read that column here:

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 17:56

Trump campaign flooding digital ad space during Democratic convention

Even though it's Democrats' week in the sun with their convention set to kick off on Monday, get ready to see a lot of Donald Trump.

That's because in an attempt to steal away some Joe Biden's shine, the Trump campaign is planning to spend millions of dollars to flood digital ad space with its own message.

All this week, pro-Trump ads will splash across the home pages of The Washington PostFoxNews.comThe Wall Street Journal, and other prominent news websites.

The Trump campaign has bought the rights to put whatever content it wants — within the confines of election laws, of course — on the banner of YouTube for four straight days beginning on Tuesday.

“It’s great that Team Biden let the Trump campaign grab up the best premium real estate on the internet during Joe’s big week,” said campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

Mr Murtaugh indicated the Trump campaign would be using negative advertising to cast Mr Biden as a stooge of the far-left faction of his party.

"We'll show millions of Americans exactly how the radical, leftist takeover of Joe Biden is now complete," he said.

Griffin Connolly17 August 2020 18:15

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