3 takeaways from Day Three of the Democratic National Convention

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks by video feed during the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention as participants from across the country are hosted over video links from the originally planned site of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.

The third night of the Democratic National Convention features a lineup of high-wattage political star power: former President Barack Obama, 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and 2020 vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Here are takeaways from Wednesday’s program:

WOMEN HEADLINING – AND WATCHING

Women dominated the convention’s first two nights as speakers and moderators – and did so again on Wednesday. On Monday, former first lady Michelle Obama drew rave reviews on social media for her impassioned rebuke of President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Jill Biden ended the evening on a somber note, reaching out to families in grief over losses suffered from the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday’s closer will be Harris, who will be formally nominated as the vice presidential nominee and will then deliver a speech assailing Trump for “a failure of leadership.” For Harris, a former presidential rival of nominee Joe Biden, it will be the most closely watched address she has ever given – and will serve as a preview of the role she is likely to play ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Harris was preceded by Clinton, who headlined the party’s convention proceedings four years ago; U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the ever-present thorn in Trump’s side; and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who also ran for president.

Watching at home: millions of women voters in swing counties who likely will determine who the next president is going to be.

CLINTON OFFERS WARNING

If Clinton had her way, she would have been speaking this week as the U.S. president seeking a second term.

Instead, she urged voters who regret putting Trump in the White House over her four years ago not to make the same mistake in 2020, and to back Biden.

“I wish Donald Trump knew how to be a president, because America needs a president right now,” Clinton said.

Clinton added that she empathized with the “slings and arrows” Harris will face as the vice presidential nominee. “But believe me, this former district attorney and attorney general can handle them all,” Clinton said.

Ironically, the person who may miss Clinton as much as anyone is Trump. He has had a difficult time demonizing Biden the way he did “Crooked Hillary,” taking advantage of the antipathy some swing voters held toward her.

More irony: After losing the 2016 election, Clinton was pilloried for having done little campaigning in Wisconsin, which helped propel Trump to the presidency. Now with COVID-19 canceling the in-person convention in Milwaukee, she could not make it the state for her scheduled appearance.

GUN-CONTROL MESSAGE

Democrats opened the night with a plea to end gun violence.

Highlighting the issue were former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords of Arizona, a victim of a mass shooter in 2011, and Emma Gonzalez, who became an activist after the 2018 mass shooting at her high school in Parkland, Florida.

During the Democratic nominating race, Biden frequently talked about gun control, an issue his party has embraced as a winning campaign message. Biden spoke of being entrusted as vice president with finding solutions for gun violence by Obama after the killing of 20 schoolchildren in 2012 by a gunman in Newtown, Connecticut. He boasted of taking on the National Rifle Association as a senator when he helped pass a since-expired ban on assault weapons.

Even amid the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn, gun rights could still be a flashpoint for some voters in the election.

Republicans at their convention next week will likely devote significant time to hammering Democrats on the issue. It is one reason why a St. Louis couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in June have been invited to speak.

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