Democratic National Convention 2020: Day 3

By Melissa Macaya, Kyle Blaine, Jessica Estepa, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 1:20 AM ET, Thu August 20, 2020
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9:42 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Billie Eilish urges Americans to "vote like our lives and the world depend on it"

Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish.
Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish. Democratic National Committee

Singer Billie Eilish urged Americans to "vote like our lives and the world depend on it, because they do" before performing her new song "My future."

She opened her remarks by criticizing President Trump, saying he is "destroying our country and everything we care about."

"We need leaders who will solve problems like climate change and Covid, not deny them. Leaders who will fight against systemic racism and inequality. That starts by voting for someone who understands how much is at stake," she said.

The Los Angeles native continued: "Someone who's building a team that shares our values. It starts with voting against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden."

"Silence is not an option, and we cannot sit this one out. We all have to vote like our lives and the world depend on it, because they do. The only way to be certain of the future is to make it ourselves. Please register, please vote."


9:33 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

New Mexico governor stresses need to focus on climate, touts Biden’s plans

From CNN's Dan Merica

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Democratic National Committee

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivered the convention’s primary speech on climate change, slamming the Trump administration for eliminating climate regulations and touting Joe Biden’s climate plans.

Standing in a field of solar panels on Wednesday night, the New Mexico governor said, “We know time is running out to save our planet. We have the chance this November to end two existential crises: The Trump presidency and the environmental annihilation he represents.”

Lujan Grisham, who interviewed to be Biden’s running mate, said the former vice president would rejoin the Paris climate agreement if he is elected president and “invest in clean energy jobs.”

“The choice is clear,” she said. “The choice is Joe Biden.”


9:19 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Giffords relates personal recovery to the country: "I have not lost my voice"

From CNN's Dan Merica

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords.
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords. Democratic National Committee

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot and wounded when a gunman opened fire on one of her events in 2011, touted the needs for resilience and strength in a powerful speech Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention.

Giffords, who was shot in the head during the deadly attack, says that she while she “known the darkest of days,” she chose to respond with “grit and determination.”

“I put one foot in front of the other. I found one word and then I found another. My recovery is a daily fight but fighting makes me stronger,” Giffords said.“Words once came easily, today I struggle to speak. But I have not lost my voice.”

Giffords has become a symbol for the Democratic fight for stricter gun laws, founding the organization Giffords in the wake of her shooting, an advocacy organization that pushes lawmakers to pass sweeping gun laws.

The former congresswoman then related her personal fight to the current state of the country and her support for Biden.

“America needs all of us to speak out, even when you have to fight to find the words. We are at a crossroads,” Giffords said. “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. He was there for me, he’ll be there for you too. Join us in this fight.”

Giffords' taped speech was introduced by a video on her life voiced by actress Regina King and featured video of the former congresswoman playing the French horn, something she did often before her shooting.

“It was an honor to help share Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ story of perseverance and courage as part of the Democratic National Convention,” King said in a statement. “Her determination to never stay silent, against all odds, should be inspiration to us all.”


9:15 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Parkland survivor Emma González featured in video calling for an end to gun violence

Activist Emma González appeared in a video tonight during the Democratic National Convention calling for an end to gun violence in the US.

"People affected by every day gun violence have to walk by the street corner where their best friend, mother, brother nephew were shot. And life goes on and on as if we didn't watch a loved one get shot and put in the grave. Until one of us or all of us stand up and say, I can't do this any more, gun violence isn't just going to stop. Until there's a force fighting harder against it, and I'm going to do something to prevent it," González said.

González is a student at the helm of a pro-gun control youth movement that erupted after a shooter killed 17 of her classmates and others in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 18, 2018.


9:09 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Kamala Harris makes early appearance with message on voting

From CNN's Dan Merica

California Sen. Kamala Harris opened the third night of the convention, urging people to create a plan for voting.

“I want to talk about the importance of voting,” Harris said, standing in what looked like the backstage of the convention set up in Delaware.

Harris will accept the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nomination and delivers her acceptance speech later in the program.

The California senator lamented the fact that voters are hearing a lot about “obstacles” to voting, adding that she thinks it is important for people to “to ask ourselves why (Republicans) don’t want us to vote” and “why are there so many effort to silence our voices.”

“The answer,” Harris said, “is because when we vote, things change.”

Harris urged viewers to create a voting plan and closed the short message by saying, “I’ll see you a little later tonight.”


9:05 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Wisconsin governor opens DNC's third night: "Holy mackerel, folks, let's get to work"

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. Democratic National Committee

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers kicked off night three of the Democratic National Convention by telling viewers that "we were really looking forward to having you here in America's dairyland."

Wisconsin, one of the nation's marquee swing states, expected to host the convention in Milwaukee — but the coronavirus pandemic forced Democrats to switch to a two-hour-a-night televised version.

So instead, Evers — who defeated Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2018 as Democrats swept statewide races in Upper Midwest battlegrounds — got an opening slot. The election, he said, is about "returning kindness, respect, empathy and stability back to the White House — and that's who Joe and Kamala are, because they know, especially during challenging times like these, the problems we face can only be solved by all of us together."

"Holy mackerel, folks, let's get to work," he said.

9:07 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

The third night of the DNC kicks off

From CNN's Maeve Reston

Sen. Kamala Harris kicks off the third day of the Democratic National Convention.
Sen. Kamala Harris kicks off the third day of the Democratic National Convention. Democratic National Committee

The third night of the Democratic National Convention has begun. Kamala Harris will take her turn in the spotlight tonight, where she will portray her story as the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants as one that can resonate with all Americans as she makes the case for electing Joe Biden.

She will say that she and Biden are committed to "a vision of our nation as a beloved community — where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love." And one where Americans may not "agree on every detail" but are "united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity and respect," according to excerpted remarks released ahead of her speech.

Harris will formally become the first Black and South Asian woman ever nominated to a major presidential party ticket.

Three generations of women — Harris' sister Maya Harris, her niece Meena, and her stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff — will deliver speeches virtually officially nominating the California senator as the Democratic nominee for vice president of the United States.

Harris will be joined on the program by some of the nation's most prominent women, including Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who, like Harris, competed against Biden for the 2020 nomination.

Former President Barack Obama will also make the case for his former vice president in what will be a sharp rebuke of Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the presidency in general.

8:54 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Harris' friend on what tonight's historic Democratic vice presidential nomination means to her

Ahead of Sen. Kamala Harris' speech this evening, friend Stacey Johnson-Batiste spoke to CNN's Dana Bash about what tonight's historic moment means to her friend of more than 50 years.

"I get choked up thinking about it. It means everything, and I think, right, now with everything going on in our country, she is the right person at the right time. When I think about Kamala's mother, Shyamala, she was such a pillar of strength. She was so loving and so embracing of all people, and she had so much courage. I just know that she is here with her in spirit," Johnson-Batiste said.

"It means so much, and by this being the 100th anniversary of the women's right to vote, it's so symbolic. I mean, it just seams like, you know, the stars have lined up and everything Kamala has worked so hard for, all these decades has gotten her ready," she said.

Harris will formally become the first Black and South Asian woman ever nominated to a major presidential party ticket when she formally accepts the nomination tonight.

Johnson-Batiste added that Harris' career has prepared her to debate current Vice President Mike Pence in October.

"Kamala is fierce, and she's a fighter. And the one thing that she will not do is let, you know, let someone get away with not telling it like it, is telling the truth to the people. She won't let those types of comments to get past her," Harris' friend said. "She's going to hold him accountable, and she is going to stick to the facts, she's going to stick to the issue, she's going to educate."


8:56 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Harris and Clinton speeches will touch on Biden's late son Beau

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Kamala Harris.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Kamala Harris. Getty Images

At least two of tonight’s top Democratic speakers will make nods to Joe Biden’s late son Beau, who passed away from cancer in 2015.

A source familiar with Sen. Kamala Harris’ speech says Harris will talk about Beau Biden and how she got to know the former vice president through her relationship with Beau as the two became friends while serving as state attorneys general at the same time.

Hillary Clinton is also expected to talk how the former vice president dealt with the loss of his son in 2015. It’s just one of the many references during this convention to Biden’s resilience in the face of loss and the empathy he exhibits. 

Clinton will also shine some light on Harris’ humanity. Clinton and Harris both worked with a young Democratic spokesperson named Tyrone Gayle who died of cancer two years ago.

Clinton will talk about how Harris flew to be with Gayle shortly before he died as she highlights the compassion of Joe Biden’s running mate — a trait this Democratic ticket is trying to present as a contrast to President Trump.