Brigid Bergin: Welcome back to The Takeaway. I'm Brigid Bergin, in for Tanzina Vega.
President Barack Obama: Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job because he can't, and the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead, millions of jobs gone. Those are the top taken more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.
Brigid: Last night, President Barack Obama delivered a searing takedown of the current president as part of the third night of the Democratic Party's virtual convention. Until now, the former president and first lady have declined to take an active role in the campaign, but their speeches this week about the state of the country were impassioned and urgent. Vice-presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris capped off Wednesday night's programming, drawing on her experiences as the child of immigrants and echoing warnings about the stakes of the upcoming election.
For more on last night and highlights from the last three days of the convention, let's go to my colleague, Amy Walter, the host of Politics with Amy Walter here on The Takeaway every Friday, and national editor of the Cook Political Report. Welcome, Amy.
Amy Walter: Hey, Brigid, how are you?
Brigid: I'm great. A lot has happened so far, what were your main takeaways from last night?
Amy: You're right to highlight the President Obama clip there. This was supposed to be the night for the vice-presidential nominee and, of course, she did get the closing speech, but it really was if we look at what is going to be remembered about last night, it will the former president's speech, basically a warning that we've been hearing from other speakers throughout this week about what's at stake in this election, but when it comes from the former president of the United States standing in front of the Constitution in Philadelphia, and saying there's nothing less than basically the fate of democracy on the ballot, that's a pretty powerful statement that is not easily going to be overshadowed.
Brigid: Issues of immigration and climate change and gun violence also played a real central role in last night's broadcast, perhaps even more so than during the primary debates. What do you think that was?
Amy: I think the first two days of this convention, we're about making people comfortable with Joe Biden, sort of filling in the gaps of who Joe Biden is as a person, obviously, the person who did that best and who is usually the best person to tell us the story of the person who's going to want to be president of United States is their spouse.
That was the Jill Biden story the other night, they're also trying these first two days to make voters comfortable with Joe Biden who voters who traditionally have not been strong democratic supporters, maybe they're not ideologically aligned with Democrats, maybe they sat on the sidelines in 2016, maybe they voted for a third-party candidate last time, maybe they supported Trump in 2016 but voted for a Democrat in 2018.
Many of these are those suburban white voters who have been soured on Donald Trump, but need to be reassured that Joe Biden is not going to be too far left, that he's not going to embrace some of the ideological causes that we've seen from other members of the Democratic Party, which is why we saw people like Colin Powell, former Republican governor John Kasich and then, of course, Cindy McCain, the widow of John McCain talking about the friendship between John McCain and Joe Biden. Last night was a really a night for the base, here are the issues that motivate Democratic voters, especially younger voters, climate and guns, and immigration.
Brigid: Another prominent theme though was children. Earlier in the convention, we saw Dr. Jill Biden deliver her speech from a high school classroom. Last night, Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke from a childhood education center. Here's part of what she said.
Senator Elizabeth Warren: It's time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation, its infrastructure for families, Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family.
Brigid: What our speaker is trying to telegraph with those backdrops, and to your point, about who this convention is appealing to, who are they speaking to there?
Amy: I also thought it was really important to note that they were speaking from empty classrooms. I think, for so many parents, that is such a powerful reminder of how much our lives have been upended in these past few months. This idea that something is as normal as going back to school, which is what we normally would be talking about this time of year, is now considered radical, the thought that your child will be able to do full-time schooling at all this year, if not even just potentially going a couple days a week. I thought that that was a very powerful decision to put both of those speakers in empty classrooms as a reminder of how important being a leader is in terms of getting our lives back to normal.
Then when you talk about school and child care, also speaking, again, to the many women voters who make up the core, the backbone of the Democratic Party, but once again, speaking to maybe some of those disaffected, independent voters, many of whom could have voted for Donald Trump last time, or maybe think that Joe Biden's not the right person for them, that is another group of people that I think this was aimed at.
Brigid: Tonight's the final day of the Democratic convention where we will finally hear from Joe Biden himself. What are you going to be watching for tonight?
Amy: It's really, a lot of it is just simply his delivery, explaining who he is, why he wants to be president, what he's going to do as president, and more important, as I said about the delivery, is how he looks. One of the biggest attacks that Donald Trump has on Joe Biden is that he simply doesn't have the stamina or mental acuity for this job. He needs to be able to push back on that simply by how he delivers the speech.
Brigid: Amy, can you give us a preview of what Takeaway listeners can expect to hear on your show tomorrow?
Amy: Sure. We're going to break down this week's convention and, of course, focus on the speech that Joe Biden will be giving tonight. We're also doing another episode in our series of campaigning in the time of COVID and checking in on how organizers are able to meet with voters, even in the middle of a pandemic.
Brigid: Amy Walter's host of Politics with Amy Walter here on TheTakeaway every Friday and national editor of The Cook Political Report. Thank you, Amy.
Amy: You're very welcome. It's great to be with you.
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