Here’s the live feed for those watching on their laptop. Read on.
We begin with another useful recap of the previous evening from the Reagan Battalion:
DNC convention recap: [Night 3] Barack Obama spoke to us about the importance of the constitution and its limits on Presidential powers, Hillary told us how a spouse is a testament to ones character, and Kamala reminded us of how unfair the justice system is to young minorities.
— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) August 20, 2020
There’s good news and bad news for Democrats tonight. The bad news is that there’s nearly zero chance Biden will deliver a memorable speech, especially if he ends up seduced by the temptation to be rousing. He’s more effective in his quieter moments, talking about family. They should stick with that, as policy and the challenges facing the country have been practically an afterthought at this convention anyway. (After 8,000 years as a senator and VP, does Biden need to articulate his brand of liberalism yet again for voters?) The entire message has been that Trump is indecent and that Joe is a, well, swell Joe. They might as well hammer that theme in the nominee’s own acceptance speech. It’s their best chance to connect with voters.
The good news for Dems is that Biden doesn’t need to deliver a memorable speech, or anything close to a memorable speech, really. All he needs to do is achieve two things. First, be energetic. I don’t mean “rousing,” necessarily, just engaged with the moment at all times and emotional as the message warrants. The only way he can hurt himself is if he’s listless, as that’ll leave voters asking the question Trump’s campaign keeps pushing them to ask. Second, don’t get overshadowed. The risk of that is small since most of the people speaking before him tonight are low key — Pete Buttigieg, Mike Bloomberg, Andrew Yang, Tammy Baldwin, various party functionaries. But Cory Booker gets a shot tonight, and Booker is an ambitious young pol with his eye on 2024. He went nowhere in the primaries but his candidacy was well received. Without a doubt, he’ll be looking to make an impression tonight a la Obama in 2004, especially since Harris’s VP speech was underwhelming.
There’s an unexpected speaker tonight too. “Where’s Hunter?” Trump occasionally asks. Well, this evening he’s on your TV screen:
Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and a favorite punching bag of Republicans, plans to speak on Thursday during the last night of the Democratic National Convention…
Hunter will be joined by his sister Ashley, who has largely kept out of the public spotlight. Ashley Biden appeared in an intimate video during the second night of the convention, diving into Joe Biden’s family life and relationship with his wife, Jill Biden. The video also touched on the family’s loss following the death of Joe Biden’s first wife and daughter in a car crash, as well as his son Beau Biden’s death from cancer in 2015.
The convention will also air a video tribute to Beau Biden’s life shortly before Joe Biden formally accepts the party’s nomination at the evening’s close.
Biden is sufficiently family-oriented that you can imagine him saying “to hell with it” when his aides reminded him that putting Hunter in the spotlight would invite the GOP to revisit the Ukraine business. Or maybe that’s the point: Biden has never trailed Trump in the national polls, even when Republicans were working hard to get the Burisma stuff off the ground this past winter, so maybe dangling Hunter in front of them is a way of baiting them. If Trump spends the next two weeks wasting time tweeting about Biden’s kid, that’s two weeks he’s not tweeting about Biden himself.
Probably, though, they figure that putting Hunter Biden onstage as part of a tribute to his father and late brother would make it too risky for Republicans to attack. People might feel sympathy for him.
There are more Republican endorsements of Joe Biden today but no one very notable as I write this at 4 p.m. ET. Unless there’s a big surprise tonight, all of the veterans of the Trump administration who’ve criticized the president after leaving have nonetheless refrained from supporting his Democratic opponent — at least before the convention when endorsing might have had the most impact. Here’s the handy Twitter widget for live commentary during the show. The comment thread is open.