Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democrats prioritize racial justice at convention

Michelle Obama.

Eva Longoria introduces a tape of Michelle Obama. Photo: Democratic National Convention via Getty Images

On opening night of their awkward but stirring virtual convention, Democrats prioritized racial justice along with the pandemic and the recession.

Why it matters: On issues, Joe Biden's widest margin over President Trump in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is race relations — a 24 point spread.

  • But Democrats have to show Black voters that they're listening, fighting, and making room for their voices in the party.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser invoked her 2-year-old daughter as she overlooked the new Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House.

  • George Floyd's brothers, Philonise and Rodney Floyd, led a moment of silence early in the two-hour show.

Between the lines: The Biden campaign included nods to white male Democrats, and to Republicans who might cross over.

  • But the focus was even more on appeals to progressives, women and people of color who didn't bother to vote in 2016.

Trump's handling of the virus animated the night's top zinger — from Kristin Urquiza, who wrote a viral obituary for her father, Mark Urquiza of Arizona:

  • "My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump — and for that he paid with his life."
  • Video.

Michelle Obama owned the night, and used a line from President Trump’s "Axios on HBO" interview as a rapier: "[H]e is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is."

  • 'Those five words — down from her seven-word catchphrase at the 2016 convention, "When they go low, we go high" — have become a cultural shorthand for Trump's handling of the virus.
  • Video.

The former first lady encouraged viewers to "request mail-in ballots tonight," and urged them to be prepared for chaos at polls:

  • "We've got to grab our comfortable shoes, put on a mask, pack a brown bag dinner and maybe breakfast, too, because we have to be willing to stand in line all night if we have to."

Timekeepers at the N.Y. Times (subscription) say Michelle Obama had the most time (18.4 minutes), followed by host Eva Longoria (12.5 minutes) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (8.4 minutes).

  • David Nather, Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Sara Fischer contributed reporting.
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