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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.

Go deeper

Axios-Ipsos poll: Voters of color worry about militias, arrests

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±2.6% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Fears that armed militias, police or COVID-19 await them at the polls are disproportionately shaping how Americans of color think about in-person voting, according to an Ipsos poll for Axios.

Why it matters: Participation by voters of color could decide whether President Trump or Joe Biden wins, and whether Democrats take control of both chambers of Congress.

2 mins ago - Axios on HBO

Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond

On the next episode of "Axios on HBO," Axios co-founder Mike Allen interviews White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond.

  • Catch the full interview and much more on Sunday, February 28 at 6 pm. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
1 hour ago - World

Italy tightens COVID restrictions as experts warn of growing prevalence of variants

Health workers prepare vaccine doses in Iseo, Italy. Photo: Stefano Nicoli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Italy on Saturday announced it was tightening restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions in an effort curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: The announcement comes as health experts and scientists warn of the more transmissible coronavirus variants, per Reuters.