Harris opens third night of Democratic convention that put women first

Kamala Harris officially becomes Democrats’ VP candidate and launches assault on Donald Trump for ‘chaos, incompetence and lost lives,’ saying ‘I know a predator when I see one’ – and backs Joe Biden saying he will bring ‘a better future’

  • Sen. Kamala Harris made history Wednesday night as she became the first woman of color to ever appear on a presidential ticket 
  • Harris appeared in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband Doug Emhoff to accept the Democrats’ nomination for vice president 
  • She bucked tradition and opened up her night at the convention, asking supporters of she and Joe Biden to come up with a voting plan 
  • Biden, the Democratic nominee, and his wife Jill greeted Harris and Emhoff as the California senator concluded her remarks     

Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president Wednesday night in Wilmington, Delaware, and was joined by Democratic nominee Joe Biden and their spouses onstage. 

Harris attacked President Donald Trump for his ‘chaos, incompetence and lost lives’ and joked, as she talked about her backstory as a prosecutor, ‘I know a predator when I see one.’ 

‘Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons,’ the California senator said. ‘Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose.’

She talked about her American story: her immigrant parents, her birth in California – a likely dig at Trump trying to once again push ‘birther’ rumors about a Democratic candidate of color – meeting her husband Doug on a blind date, her sorority sisters from a historically black sisterhood. 

‘She taught us to put family first – the family you’re born into and the family you choose,’ Harris said of her mother, the late Shyamala Gopalan Harris.  

And she talked about getting justice for George Floyd and for Breonna Taylor, two black Americans who were killed by white officers. 

Harris’ speech was the final addition to a women-fueled evening. 

Both Hillary Clinton – the first female presidential nominee – and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – the nation’s first female speaker – spoke, but Pelosi got a higher billing. Actresses Kerry Washington and Mariska Hargitay made appearances, while 18-year-old, Billie Eilish sang. Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave her take on the economy. 

Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination Wednesday night in Wilmington, Delaware

Kamala Harris only had reporters in her audience Wednesday night as the country continues to be impacted by the coronavirus crisis 

Kamala Harris bucked tradition Wednesday and opened up the night she was nominated at the Democratic National Convention, asking supporters to come up with a voting plan as President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested there would be widepread fraud in the 2020 election 

Kamala Harris (center left) was joined by her husband Doug Emhoff (right) and Joe and Jill Biden (right) as she concluded her acceptance of the Democrats’ nomination for vice president 

Harris also got a stamp of approval from President Barack Obama, who eviscerated President Donald Trump in his remarks. Obama called her an ‘ideal partner, who is more than prepared for the job.’   

There was a lot of talk about Tuesday’s anniversary that marked 100 years of the 19th Amendment, which allowed some American women to vote, but not everyone.

‘Yet so many of the Black women who helped secure that victory were still prohibited from voting, long after its ratification,’ Harris pointed out in her remarks.     

She also spoke of the inequities laid bare by the current coronavirus crisis. 

‘And while this virus touches us all, let’s be honest, it is not an equal opportunity offender. Black, Latino and Indigenous people are suffering and dying disproportionately,’ she said.  

‘This virus has no eyes, and yet it knows exactly how we see each other – and how we treat each other,’ Harris remarked. ‘And let’s be clear – there is no vaccine for racism. We’ve gotta do the work.’

Earlier, she bucked tradition and opened up her night at the virtual Democratic National Convention by asking supporters to make a voting plan as Trump has pushed the narrative that there will be widespread voter fraud if mail-in voting goes nationwide. 

‘So I think we need to ask oursvlves why don’t they want us to vote?  Why is there so much effort to silence our voices?’ she asked. ‘And the answer is because when we vote things change. When we vote things get better, when we vote we address the need for all people to be treated with dignity and respect in our country.’  

The beginning of Harris’ remarks served as her official introduction to voters who may not have paid attention to the early months of the Democratic primary, which she compete in before dropping out in December, before the first ballots were cast. 

She spoke of her Indian mother who came to the U.S. to try to cure cancer and who met her Jamaica father at University of California Berkeley. 

‘They fell in love in that most American way – while marching together for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s,’ she said. ‘In the streets of Oakland and Berkeley, I got a stroller’s-eye view of people getting into what the great John Lewis called “good trouble,”‘ she said, in yet another reference to the civil rights pioneer this week at the DNC. 

Lewis passed away last month.  

Harris also spoke of the grief she felt that her mother couldn’t see her moment onstage at the Chase Center, where her audience consisted only of reporters surrounded by traditional convention placards respresenting each state and territory. 

‘And oh, how I wish she were here tonight but I know she’s looking down on me from above. I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman – all of five feet tall – who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California,’ she said.  

‘On that day, she probably could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now speaking these words,’ she said with a pause. 

‘I accept your nomination for vice president of the United States of America,’ Harris said. 

She spoke of the country her mother raised her to believe that it was. 

‘Today… that country feels distant,’ she said. ‘We’re at an inflection point. The constant chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone.’ 

‘It’s a lot.’

‘And here’s the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more,’ Harris said.  

She then spoke of Biden – how she knew him as he served in office, but also as her late friend Beau Biden’s dad. 

‘And what also moved me about Joe is the work he did, as he went back and forth. This is the leader who wrote the Violence Against Women Act – and enacted the Assault Weapons Ban. Who, as vice president, implemented The Recovery Act, which brought our country back from The Great Recession,’ she said. ‘He championed The Affordable Care Act, protecting millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. Who spent decades promoting American values and interests around the world, standing up with our allies and standing up to our adversaries.’ 

She concluded by pressing the immense responsibility voters had to get Trump out of office. 

‘Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high?’ she said.  

‘And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did,’ Harris said. 

Barack Obama unleashed his most direct, harshest to date on the man who followed him into the Oval Office in his speech to the Democratic National Convention

Actress Kerry Washington was the emcee for the Democrats third night of their virtual convention 

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made an appearance to talk about gun violence and how Democratic nominee Joe Biden was there for her as she recovered from the wounds she received after the January 2011 Tuscon shooting 

18-year-old singer Billie Eilish performed during the third night of the DNC. ‘You don’t need me to tell you things are a mess,’ she said before her song. ‘Donald Trump is destroying our country and everything, we care about’ 

Hillary Clinton, dressed in suffragette white, reminded Democrats that the Biden-Harris ticket could win by three million votes – and still lose 

The party’s parade of firsts come one day after President Bill Clinton appeared at the DNC, which attracted some criticism in the post-#MeToo era and as the Democrats want to showcase their diversity 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the country’s first female speaker, got a higher billing than 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton 

‘Law & Order SVU’ Mariska Hargitay talked about her support for Joe Biden during a discussion of the Violence Against Women Act 

Harris was formally nominated by three of her family members: Sister Maya Harris, who served as the campaign chairwoman for Harris’ presidential bid, Maya’s daughter Meena and Harris’ step-daughter Ella Emhoff, who refers to her as ‘Momala,’ the California senator said when she talked about her family members during her debut speech in Wilmington, Delaware last week. 

Husband Doug, because of the pandemic, was the only one on-site. 

The third night of the DNC opened with anecdotes from victims of gun violence  

The video included anti-gun violence marches, including a 2018 march that included footage of Lewis and where Emma Gonzales, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, blasted the gun lobby and those who resisted change to gun control laws. ‘We call B.S.’ she said repeatedly in her speech.  

The section of the program concluded with words from former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was wounded in 2011 when a gunman ambushed her ‘Congress on Your Corner’ event in Tuscon, Arizona. 

‘He was there for me; he’ll be there for you, too,’ Giffords said of Biden, who was serving as Obama’s vice president at the time she was nearly murdered. 

‘We are at a crossroads. We can let the shooting continue or we can act. We can protect our families, our future. We can vote. We can be on the right side of history. We must elect Joe Biden,’ she said. ‘Vote, vote, vote.’ 

The convention segued from gun control to climate change, featuring a number of young, diverse activists and a performance from 18-year-old Billie Eilish, who can vote for the first time this year. 

‘You don’t need me to tell you things are a mess,’ she said. ‘Donald Trump is destroying our country and everything, we care about.’

She said she wanted to see a leader who would tackle climate change, COVID and systemic racism.     

‘It starts with voting against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden. Silence is not an option and we cannot sit this one out,’ she encouraged the country’s youngest set of voters. 

She played ‘My Future,’ which started out sultry, but turned to pop.   

Hillary Clinton, dressed in suffragette white, addressed the convention from her New York home.  

‘I wish Donald Trump knew how to be a president because America needs a president right now,’ said the 2016 Democratic nominee, the first woman to hold the honor. 

She reminded supporters that Trump used to say during campaign stops, ‘what do you have to lose?’ 

‘Well now we know – our healthcare, our jobs, our loved ones, our leadership in the world and even our post office,’ Clinton said. 

She encouraged Americans to really get out the vote because ‘don’t forget, Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose.’   

‘Take it from me. We need numbers overwhelming, so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory,’ Clinton said. 

Clinton’s part of the program also featured a video about 100 years of suffrage for some American women, and showcased a number of Democratic female lawmakers and governors winning election.  

Former President Bill Clinton, the last white male Democrat to serve as president, spoke Tuesday night, with some questioning his role in a party that’s striving to show off its diversity and grapple with a post-#MeToo world. 

After an awkward transition – a quirk with the convention being held all over the U.S. – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the audience from her home district of San Francisco. 

Beforehand, there was a highlights reel of Pelosi getting under Trump’s skin.    

First was when she fought with the president during a December 2018 Oval Office meeting about a government shutdown. Afterward Pelosi walked out of the White House, wearing an orange coat and donning her sunglasses – an image that went viral.

The video also showed a photo from an October 2019 meeting in the White House that saw Democrats walk out over, charging Trump with having a meltdown. The White House released a photo showing Pelosi standing up, finger pointed at Trump. She made it her Twitter profile picture.  

‘As Speaker, I’ve seen firsthand Donald Trump’s disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular,’ Pelosi said. ‘But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.’

She also touted Biden’s support for women.

‘Joe Biden is the President we need right now: battle-tested, forward-looking, honest and authentic. He has never forgotten where he comes from and who he fights for,’ she said.

And she used her speech to slam Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump for holding up negotiations on a coronavirus relief package. Talks have reached a standstill as both sides argue over funding for the post office and for cities and states whose budgets were decimated by the pandemic.

‘Our nation faces the worst health and economic catastrophe in our history: more than 5 million Americans are infected by the coronavirus,’ she said. ‘And who is standing in the way? Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. Instead of crushing the virus, they’re trying to crush the Affordable Care Act – and its protections for preexisting conditions.’    

Warren, a former teacher, spoke from the Early Childhood Education Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she laid the blame for the COVID pandemic squarely in the lap of Trump. 

‘Donald Trump’s ignorance and incompetence have always been a danger to our country. COVID-19 was Trump’s biggest test. He failed miserably. Today, America has the most COVID deaths in the world and an economic collapse—and both crises are falling hardest on Black and Brown families,’ she said.

Behind her, three block letters on a shelf spelled out B-L-M for Black Lives Matter.

‘This crisis is bad—and didn’t have to be this way. This crisis is on Donald Trump and the Republicans who enable him. On November 3, we hold them all accountable,’ she said.  

The Washington Post reported that Obama – who was slated to conclude the night – asked that Harris do so instead.  

From the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia Obama laid into Trump, saying the administration would do anything to win even if it meant tearing down America’s democracy.

He made a clear, concise argument on why Trump was unqualified to serve in the Oval Office, sounding presidential as he made his case – but also painted a dark vision of the consequences of a second Trump term.

‘This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win,’ he charged in his nearly 20 minute speech, a condemnation of a president by a previous one without historical precedent.

He told Americans the only way to restore the country was to elect Biden and Kamala in November.

‘We have to get busy building it up – by pouring all our effort into these 76 days, and by voting like never before – for Joe and Kamala, and candidates up and down the ticket, so that we leave no doubt about what this country we love stands for – today and for all our days to come,’ said Obama, his hair gray and demeanor serious. 

He put aside post-presidential precedent to deliver an indictment of the man who succeeded him in the Oval Office, calling him lazy, dangerous, and corrupt, accusing him of abusing the military as props, of gassing peaceful protesters and of being willing to do anything for a second term. 

The DNC was supposed to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but instead is being pieced together virtually from multiple locations thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers was one of the opening speaking during the convention’s third night.  

The Biden campaign wouldn’t say whether Harris or Biden will be tested for the coronavirus prior to their appearances, though all other people on-site will have been tested for multiple days. 

On Thursday, Biden will use the same venue to formally accept the Democratic nomination from his adopted hometown of Wilmington.  

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