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Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton will use his five-minute address at the virtual Democratic National Convention to take a scalpel to President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and the economy, repeatedly attacking him by name, a source familiar with the speech tells Axios.

Why it matters: As a former president, Clinton has sanded down his private criticism of Trump in public. But tonight, he’ll dispense with the “one-president-at-a-time” protocol that precludes direct and sustained criticism by a predecessor.

What he'll say: “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple. At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos."

  • "Just one thing never changes—his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there.”
  • “Our party is united in offering you a very different choice: a go-to-work president. A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy. A man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide. Our choice is Joe Biden.”

Details: Clinton will speak at the beginning of the second hour of programming, ahead of Jill Biden. Because his speech was taped in his Chappaqua, New York, living room before Sen. Kamala Harris’ selection as Joe Biden's running mate, he won’t directly mention her.

  • In the first half, he’ll directly target Trump and his response to the coronavirus.
  • In the second half, he’ll explain how Biden’s Senate and White House experience will help him heal the country and revitalize the economy as president.

Between the lines: Clinton has seen his standing as trusted party elder called into question as a result of the #MeToo reckoning. But Democrats familiar with the convention planning say that his presence is evidence that Biden needs to improve his numbers among working-class Americans who fled the party in 2016.

  • Clinton turns 74 tomorrow and has barely left his residence since the pandemic began.

Flashback: This will be Clinton’s 11th DNC address. His oratory has received mixed reviews at past conventions.

  • In 1988, the rowdy floor grew impatient with Clinton’s meandering 33-minute address, cheering when he said “in closing.”
  • But testifying to President Barack Obama’s strengths in 2012, he read the room, deviated from his prepared remarks and riffed for nearly 50 minutes, to rave reviews on the convention floor and skybox studios.
  • Tonight’s speech will feel more like the Saturday morning radio addresses he gave as president.

The bottom line: Clinton will want to prove that he can still deliver.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Systemic racism

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor (PA Images)/Getty Images

Advocates are pushing President-elect Biden to tackle systemic racism with a Day 1 agenda that includes ending the detention of migrant children and expanding DACA, announcing a Justice Department investigation of rogue police departments and returning some public lands to Indigenous tribes.

Why it matters: Biden has said the fight against systemic racism will be one of the top goals of his presidency — but the expectations may be so high that he won't be able to meet them.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  3. Education: Devos extends federal student loan relief to Jan. 31
  4. States: New Mexico to allow hospitals to ration coronavirus medical care
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.