NATIONWIDE — “We can do better and deserve so much more.”
That was the message that Kamala Harris expressed to the American people after she stepped up to the podium at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, and formally accepted the Democratic nomination for Vice President.
Harris made history Wednesday night, officially becoming the first woman of color to be nominated to a national office by a major political party — but expressed that there is still plenty of work to be done for the Democratic ticket:
“We must elect a president who will bring something different, something better, and do the important work,” she said. “A president who will bring all of us together — Black, White, Latino, Asian, Indigenous — to achieve the future we collectively want. We must elect Joe Biden.”
Here are 5 takeaways from Night 3 of the DNC:
GUN VIOLENCE, CLIMATE CHANGE AND IMMIGRATION TAKE CENTER STAGE
As if responding to critics who expressed concerns that Joe Biden would not prioritize progressive positions, Night 3 of the DNC featured powerful moments on such stances as gun violence, climate change and family separations.
Activist DeAndra Dycus told the story of her son, DeAndre, who was shot in the back of the head at a party, leaving him a quadriplegic unable to talk: "The child I birthed is not able to live his dreams and that hurts. Every day we're reminded that he may never be the same.”
She went on to say that President Trump “doesn’t care” about the victims of mass shootings. “I want a president who cares about our pain and grief, a president who will take on the gun lobby to ban assault weapons and close the loopholes to guns out of the hands of criminals."
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived a 2011 shooting, delivered a powerful speech: “America needs all of us to speak out, even when you have to fight to find the words. We are at a crossroads. We can let the shooting continue or we can act.”
(Worth noting: Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, is the Democratic nominee for Senate in Arizona, running against Republican incumbent Martha McSally.)
Shortly after, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham kicked off the climate change portion of the evening: “We have the chance this November to end two existential crises: The Trump presidency and the environmental annihilation he represents.”
But the voice that stole the show was an 11-year-old girl named Estella Juarez, who read a letter she wrote to President Trump after her mother was deported to Mexico.
“My dad thought you would protect military families. So he voted for you in 2016, Mr. President,” Juarez wrote about her father, a United States Marine.
“Now, my mom is gone, and she’s been taken from us for no reason at all. Every day that passes you deport more moms and dads and take them away from kids like me.”
"Mr. President, my mom is the wife of a proud American Marine and a mother of two American children,” she concluded. “We are American families. We need a president who will bring people together, not tear them apart. Sincerely, Estella."
Juarez's mother came to the United States as a teenager who was undocumented, according to a DNC news release.
GET OUT THE VOTE
"What unites us is far, far greater than what divides us,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said, as he kicked off Wednesday night’s remarks.
What united the Democratic heavy hitters that spoke Wednesday night wasn’t just attacks on President Trump, or heaping praise on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — but the importance of getting out the vote.
Hillary Clinton put it bluntly: “Don’t forget: Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose. Take it from me.”
“This can’t be another ‘woulda coulda shoulda’ election.” She said. “If you’re voting by mail, request your ballot now, and send it back as soon as you can. If you vote in person, do it early. Bring a friend and wear a mask. Become a poll worker,” the former presidential nominee said. “Most of all, no matter what, vote.”
Former president Obama echoed Clinton’s sentiments: “Make a plan right now for how you're going to get involved and vote. Do it as early as you can and tell your family and friends how they can vote too.”
“They are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter. That’s how they win,” he remarked.
Kamala Harris touched on the importance of voting twice — once in her “cold open” at the beginning of the show, and during her acceptance speech: "We have shown when we vote, we expand access to health care and expand access to the ballot box"
Getting out the vote was clearly the message that united the Democratic party on Wednesday night.
HILLARY STRIKES BACK
The previous Democratic nominee for president opened her remarks at the DNC by paraphrasing her concession speech from four years ago: “After the last election, I said, ‘We owe Donald Trump an open mind and the chance to lead.’ I really meant it.”
“I wish Donald Trump had been a better president, because America needs a better president than this — we need Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”
Clinton also had a message to young people: “Don’t give up on America”
"Despite our flaws and problems, we have come so far. And we can still be a more just and equal country, full of opportunities previous generations could never have imagined.”
Like so many before her tonight, and throughout the DNC, the former Secretary of State urged viewers to vote:
“Remember back in 2016 when Trump asked: 'What do you have to lose?' Well, now we know: our health care, our jobs, our loved ones. Our leadership in the world and even our post office.”
Clinton closed her speech echoing what Jill Biden said Tuesday night about Biden’s ability to heal: “There's a lot of heartbreak in America right now — and the truth is, many things were broken before the pandemic. But, as the saying goes, the world breaks everyone at one point or another, and afterward, many are stronger in the broken places. Joe Biden knows how to heal, because he's done it himself.”
“We will redeem the soul and promise of this country together,” she concluded. We will elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — together.”
OBAMA SLAMS HIS SUCCESSOR: “OUR DEMOCRACY IS AT STAKE RIGHT NOW"
Former President Barack Obama did not pull any punches against his successor when he took the virtual stage from Philadelphia, blasting him for treating the presidency like “one more reality show.”
“I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president,” Obama said. “I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.”
“But he never did.”
“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” he continued. “And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.”
Then, he shifted his focus to his former VP: “So let me tell you about my friend Joe Biden.”
“What I quickly came to admire about Joe Biden is his resilience, borne of too much struggle, his empathy, borne of too much grief,” the former president said. “Joe is a man who learned early on to treat every person with respect and dignity.”
“That empathy, that decency, the belief that everybody counts — that’s who Joe is.”
Obama closed by asking the American people “to believe in Joe and Kamala's ability to lead this country out of these dark times and build it back better.”
“What we do echoes through the generations,” he said shortly before concluding.
ALL EYES ON KAMALA
Harris bookended the show — opening the show with an impassioned message about voting: “I think we need to ask ourselves: Why don't they want us to vote? Why is there so much effort to silence our voices? 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.”
She also closed out the night; Reports broke during the DNC that Obama was originally slated to speak last, but asked to switch spots with Harris to symbolically “pass the torch” to her.
It set a tone for the evening: This is Kamala Harris’ night.
After a powerful introduction from her sister, her niece and her stepdaughter, Harris took the stage to formally accept the party’s nomination for president.
“I wish she were here tonight,” referring to her mother, “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, Calif,” she continued. “On that day, she probably could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now and speaking these words: I accept your nomination for vice president of the United States of America.”
Harris speech was full of headline-grabbing lines: “I know a predator when I see one,” she said, talking about her experience fighting for children and victims of sexual assault, and against banks and “transnational gangs.”
“There is no vaccine for racism,” she said about fighting injustice and bigotry. “We’ve gotta do the work. For George Floyd. For Breonna Taylor. For the lives of too many others to name. For our children. For all of us.”
And she didn’t mince words about the president: “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods.”
After heaping praise on Joe Biden and highlighting her relationship with his son, Beau, Harris spoke of the hard work ahead and the historic consequences of the upcoming election:
“Years from now, this moment will have passed,” she said. “And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high?”
“They will ask us, what was it like? And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did,” she concluded.”