Kamala Harris Celebrates America’s Diversity, A Nation ‘Where All Are Welcome,’ In DNC Speech

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he doesn’t know much about the QAnon conspiracy theory movement but understands it is gaining in popularity and has a favorable view of him.

“I don’t know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much,” Trump told reporters at a briefing.

“These are people that don’t like seeing what’s going on in places like Portland, in places like Chicago and New York, and other cities and states,” he added, referring to anti-racism protests that have taken place across the country over the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody in May.

QAnon followers espouse an intertwined series of beliefs based on anonymous web postings from someone claiming special insider knowledge of the Trump administration. The core tenet is that Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators including prominent Democrats.

A spokesman for Democrat Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the Nov. 3 election, said the Republican president was “again giving voice to violence.”

“After calling neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville ‘fine people’ and tear-gassing peaceful protesters following the murder of George Floyd, Donald Trump just sought to legitimize a conspiracy theory that the FBI has identified as a domestic terrorism threat,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Facebook said it had removed nearly 800 QAnon conspiracy groups for posts celebrating violence, showing intent to use weapons, or attracting followers with patterns of violent behavior.

 U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention of Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs, and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators, and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

“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,” she said.

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.


BIDEN AHEAD IN POLLS

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice-presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for the largely virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

“Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

The former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

“This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election,” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line because they are.”

Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

“Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions, and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect wrote into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

“It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s the infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California, and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

There has been one persistent theme in the Democratic National Convention so far: to portray President Donald Trump in highly personal ways as one unsuited for the White House both in skills and temperament. And no one, not even former President Barack Obama, has been holding back.

Here are some key takeaways from the third night of the convention.

OBAMA, GLOVES OFF

Former President Barack Obama came to power on the airy notions of “hope and change.” He governed with a largely calm and cerebral air and continued that in his post-White House years.

On Wednesday, Obama dispensed with decorum and folkways and delivered a direct hit on Trump.

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” Obama said, according to his prepared remarks. “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.”

Obama followed his wife, Michelle, and former President Bill Clinton, among others, who attacked Trump for his personal traits, a tactic Trump has deployed against them and others throughout his first term.

The former president spoke from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, a calculated venue for his warning that his successor is a threat to democracy in the United States.

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That’s been a theme of the entire Democratic Convention, but having the most recent former president make it explicit demonstrates that this time Democrats are taking Trump seriously, and literally.

HARRIS: MORE THAN THE ATTACK ROLE

Making history as the first Black woman on a major party national ticket, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris sought to show she’s more than the designated attacker of Joe Biden’s campaign.

She did an impromptu cold open to the convention’s third night, imploring Americans to vote and asking them to text a number to the campaign to get information as she questioned why Trump would not want people to vote.

Her prepared remarks showed flashes of the toughness she displayed as a former prosecutor and aggressive questioner on Capitol Hill. But her angle Wednesday seemed aimed more at broadly complementing arguments Biden was making well before Harris joined the ticket.

She joined the growing list of Democrats who excoriated Trump. “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” she said in one excerpt. In another: “The constant chaos leaves us adrift. Incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot.”

Yet her remarks tried to set that criticism in the broader context of what’s possible if voters opt for a change in “a country where we may not agree on every detail, but where we are united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity and respect — a country where we look out for one another.”

Her place in history is assured. Now the challenge will be for her to further excite women of color and draw anti-Trump, college-educated whites in metro areas, as Biden hopes. Harris’ formal introduction could serve notice that she should be viewed as more than Biden’s backup.

CONVENTION OF THE WOMAN

It wasn’t the year of the woman for Democrats — during the party’s hard-fought primary, Biden and his main rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, easily bested several female aspirants for the party’s presidential nomination. But it’s been the convention of the woman.

On Wednesday, the party showed off the first female Speaker of the House, its vice presidential nominee, and its prior presidential nominee — the first woman to have that role for a major party.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrated that women make up nearly a quarter of the House, but she quickly shifted to hitting Trump over missing the moment. “I’ve seen firsthand Donald Trump’s disrespect for facts, for working families and for women in particular, disrespect wrote into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct,” she said.

The first two nights of the convention were hosted by prominent actresses of color and capped by powerful speeches from two famous political spouses, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. Numerous speakers have talked about the power of Black women and Latinas.

Speakers referenced the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave many women the right to vote. Several of the women wore white, the color that honors the women’s suffrage movement. Biden was featured for his work to enact the Violence Against Women Act, with a video showing his advocacy and Senate hearings leading up to the 1994 law.

Democrats are increasingly dependent on female voters, as a gender gap grows in U.S. politics. That often helps the party, because there are more women voting than men. And the combination of Trump and the #MeToo movement has turned that gap into a chasm, even with a 77-year-old white man as the nominee.

GIFFORDS CALL ON VOTERS TO SPEAK OUT

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, shot in the head in a mass shooting in 2011, provided an emotional high point. Giffords had serious brain damage after the attack, struggled to walk and speak and founded a gun control group in her name.

On Wednesday, a video showed her playing the French horn and laboring to put together sentences. Then she looked directly at the camera and spoke about the importance of grit and not giving up. “Words once came easily, today I struggle to speak, but I have not lost my voice,” she said, in remarks, her office said took hours to prepare because of her disability. “America needs all of us to speak out, even when you have to fight to find the words.”

Of Biden, Giffords said in her slow, careful new voice: “He was there for me. He’ll be there for you, too.”

Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, is the Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona.

Giffords was joined Wednesday by other powerful Democratic women, all of them at one time or another called “nasty” by Trump: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris.

CLINTON, THIS TIME A FOOTNOTE

For a historic candidate who won the presidential popular vote by more than 3 million ballots but lost in the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton seemed more like a convention footnote.

But she was there Wednesday to offer a clear reminder that every vote matters, and that staying home or choosing a third-party candidate could hand Trump a second term.

Clinton was only allotted five minutes to speak, a reminder that, while she remains popular with a segment of the party, she’s also seen as a flawed politician who blew a winnable race to Trump.

Her speech was laden with regret.

“For four years, people have said to me, ‘I didn’t realize how dangerous he was.’ ‘I wish I could go back and do it all over.’ Or worse, ‘I should have voted,’” Clinton said. “Well, this can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.”

She ruefully alluded to how she won the popular vote, yet lost the election. “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose. Take it from me. So we need numbers so overwhelming Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”

She did take a swing at Trump: “I wish Donald Trump knew how to be a president because America needs a president right now.”

President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged people to boycott tires from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., tweeting that the Ohio-based company had “announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS.”

But the company didn’t announce such a specific ban, only that it asks employees to refrain from workplace expressions involving political campaigns and “forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues.” “Make America Great Again,” or “MAGA,” is a Trump campaign slogan.

Trump’s tweet immediately sent the company’s stock downward. The stock trimmed its losses in the afternoon before closing down about 2.4% for the day.

“Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!),” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s tweet followed a report from WIBW television station in Topeka, Kansas, based on an anonymous Goodyear employee’s screenshot that listed Black Lives Matter and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride messages as acceptable while politically affiliated slogans and material, including “MAGA Attire” and “Blue Lives Matter,” in support of police, were listed as unacceptable. The screenshot was described in the report as part of the company’s diversity training.

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Trump’s tweet provided steam for critics on social media who had earlier started #boycottgoodyear on Twitter.

Goodyear responded to Trump with a tweet of its own, saying that the company was the focus of a conversation that “created some misconceptions about our policies and our company. Goodyear has always wholeheartedly supported both equality and law enforcement and will continue to do so.”

The company said the material captured in the screenshot was not created or distributed by the company’s corporate offices or part of a diversity training class. It also stressed that it does ask its workers to “refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party, as well as similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues.”

It’s not unusual for companies to discourage employees from engaging in political activity at the workplace through their electronic communications and dress code.

Trump’s presidential limousine, referred to as “The Beast,” uses Goodyear tires.

“I would swap them out, based on what I heard. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said when asked about Goodyear in an evening press briefing. “Look, you’re going to have a lot of people not wanting to buy that product anymore.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Goodyear should further clarify its policy, and she said support for Blue Lives Matter is an equity issue.

“If you can wear a Black Lives Matter hat, guess what, you should be able to wear a Blue Lives Matter one, too,” she said.

Goodyear has a more than 120-year history in Ohio, a battleground state in the presidential election. Most of its competition is headquartered outside the United States.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, tweeted that “It’s absolutely despicable that the President would call for a boycott of an American company, based in Akron, that employs thousands of U.S. workers.”

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said Trump had promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to Ohio, but instead was jeopardizing them.

“Goodyear employs thousands of American workers, including in Ohio, where it is headquartered. To President Trump, those workers and their jobs aren’t a source of pride, just collateral damage in yet another one of his political attacks,” Biden said.

Presidents have at times used the bully pulpit to go after companies, but Trump has taken that opportunity to an elevated level, often with little or no pushback from GOP lawmakers.

In Akron, the latest jobs numbers put the unemployment rate at 11.1%. Trump’s comments are sure to grab the attention of Goodyear’s workers there.

“They’re using their power over these people, and these people want to wear whatever it is that we’re talking about,” Trump said of Goodyear’s leadership. “And so I would be very much in favor of people who don’t want to buy there. And you know what? They’ll be able to get a good job because we set a jobs record over the last quarter. ...You’ll be able to get another good job.”

 For nearly three minutes at this week’s Democratic National Convention, Cindy McCain recounted Joe Biden’s friendship with her late husband, John McCain, the Arizona senator, and former Republican presidential candidate. Colin Powell, President George W. Bush’s secretary of state, praised Biden for two minutes. Former GOP Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey also got prominent speaking slots.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most dynamic young stars of the Democratic Party, spoke for just 60 seconds.

The GOP’s prominent billing reflects one of Biden’s core arguments in the closing months of the campaign: He can appeal to and work with Republicans to bring stability to a Washington paralyzed by the chaos of Donald Trump’s presidency. But progressive Democrats seeking to exert influence over Biden argue that such outreach risks undermining the party’s principles and harkens back to an era of bipartisan cooperation that no longer exists.

“It’s fine for Republicans and Democrats to say we disagree on many issues, but Donald Trump is a threat to American democracy and we must join together to elect Joe Biden,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “It’s not OK for the Democratic convention to give more time to Republicans than Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or to approve John Kasich’s pre-taped video bashing the ‘left’ and implying that Joe Biden will not make good on the ambitious solutions he proposed in this crisis moment.”

The political clout of progressives is debatable. After early setbacks, Biden took a commanding lead in the Democratic primary after voters rejected challengers from the left, including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. And many progressives, including Sanders and Warren, say the threat of Trump’s election is enough to fully unify them behind Biden.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t rising tensions — and a convention leaning so heavily into Republican support for Biden is exacerbating them.

Ocasio-Cortez is seen by many as the future of the party, but may actually already be its present. The New York representative has already helped progressives win congressional primaries, including challenger Jamaal Bowman toppling longtime Rep. Eliot Engel in her home state’s primary.

“She is one of the people who can cut through this medium and deliver a message very powerfully, so I feel like the DNC just missed one on that,” former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang told Washington Post Live on Wednesday.

Waleed Shahid, the spokesman for the progressive group Justice Democrats, described the convention so far as “boomer cringe,” and said Democrats aren’t effectively targeting young people and progressives who overwhelmingly didn’t support Biden in the primary.

California Rep. Ro Khanna, head of the California delegation to the convention, said people need to be inspired to vote.

“The way I think we can do that is we’ve got such great progressive stars,” Khanna said. “Let’s get them out there. Let’s get them engaged, let’s showcase them. ... They can speak to that generation in very compelling ways.”

Airtime isn’t the only sticking point. The new Democratic platform approved at the convention does not call for an end to fossil fuel industry subsidies and tax breaks, nor does it make any mention of the sweeping “Green New Deal” proposals to combat climate change. That’s despite Biden’s campaign working for months with top Sanders advisers and supporters on “unity” task forces meant to incorporate some key progressive goals into the party platform.

The omission drew swift online condemnation from climate activists but may have electoral benefits in battleground Pennsylvania, where the economy relies heavily on hydraulic fracturing.

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa downplayed complaints about the convention being too Republican-heavy, telling Fox News Channel on Wednesday that her party would continue its message of “inclusion not exclusion.”

The Biden campaign, meanwhile, has long said it wants to attract as many supporters from across the political spectrum as possible. Sanders speaking on the same night as Kasich — who sought to reassure Republicans and independents who “fear Joe may turn sharp left and leave them behind” — illustrated just how big its political tent can be.

“As Senator Sanders said Monday night, this is the most important election in modern history, which is exactly why our campaign is building a broad coalition of supporters,” said Biden spokesman Michael Gwin.

Among those who have addressed the convention is Ady Barkin, a progressive activist who after being diagnosed with A.L.S. in 2016 has become a visible face of support for single-payer health care under plans like Sanders’ signature “Medicare for All.”

Still, Shahid said a lot of the Democrats getting airtime, including in Tuesday’s keynote montage with 17 “rising stars,” were those who supported Biden in the Democratic primary and “are being rewarded for their loyalty and their endorsement.”

That wasn’t the case, he said, for young progressive leaders such as Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who supported Warren’s presidential bid, and Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal or Khanna, who backed Sanders, and “are not really being given the light of day.”

Shahid also said disagreements over the convention are just a glimpse at what may happen if Biden wins in November and must work not only with Republicans but with a progressive caucus that is larger and more influential than it was when he left the vice presidency in 2016.

“A lot of what you’re seeing is like the beginning of the tension that will come to fore in a Biden administration between his White House and progressives in Congress who will not give him the honeymoon that Barack Obama got from them in 2009,” he said.