Three takeaways from first day of the DNC: Vote, vote, and vote

New York

Michelle Obama delivered a passionate condemnation of President Donald Trump during the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, declaring him “in over his head” and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected over Joe Biden.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said. “He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

Mr. Trump pushed back Tuesday, taunting on Twitter that someone should explain to Mrs. Obama that he wouldn’t be in the “beautiful White House” today if it “weren’t for the job done by her husband,” President Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump ended with a sarcastic thanks to Michelle Obama for her “very kind words.”

The former first lady, one of the nation’s most respected women, was the headliner at the first presidential nominating convention of the coronavirus era. There was no central meeting place or cheering throng during the all-virtual affair Monday night. But it was an opportunity for Democrats – and some Republicans – to rally behind Mr. Biden, the party’s presidential nominee.

Bernie Sanders, the progressive Vermont senator who was Mr. Biden’s last standing rival during the primary, encouraged his loyal supporters to vote for the former vice president in November, arguing the nation can’t survive another four years of Mr. Trump. He notably backed Mr. Biden’s plan for tackling health care, one of their most substantive differences in the past. Mr. Sanders backs a Medicare for All plan while Mr. Biden has called for expanding the current “Obamacare” law.

But it was Michelle Obama, making her fourth convention appearance, who once again delivered an electrifying moment. Wearing a necklace that said “vote,” she tapped into her enduring popularity among Black voters and college educated suburban women – voters Mr. Biden will need to show up in force.

She issued a stark warning to a country already navigating health and economic crises along with a reckoning on racism.

“If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election,” she said as she issued a call to action for the coalition of young and diverse voters who twice sent her family to the White House.

Mr. Biden will formally accept the nomination on Thursday near his home in Wilmington, Delaware. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is the first Black woman on a national ticket, speaks Wednesday night.

Leading up to that, Mr. Biden sought on opening night to demonstrate the broad ideological range of his supporters.

On the same night he was praised by Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multitrillion-dollar universal health care plan, Mr. Biden also won backing from Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Mr. Sanders said as he endorsed Mr. Biden’s health care plan.

Still, there were real questions about whether the prime-time event would adequately energize the disparate factions Mr. Biden hopes to capture.

Republicans face a similar challenge next week.

Mr. Trump sought to undermine the Democrats’ big night by hosting a political rally in Wisconsin, where Mr. Biden’s party had originally planned this week’s convention. He called the Democrats’ event “a snooze” before it even began.

Monday’s speeches were framed by emotional appearances from average Americans touched by the crises that have exploded on Mr. Trump’s watch.

Philonise and Rodney Floyd led a moment of silence in honor of their brother, George Floyd, the Minnesota man whose death while in police custody sparked a national moment of awakening on racial injustice.

“George should be alive today,” Philonise Floyd said matter-of-factly.

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