Welcome to Positive America, I'm Jon Favreau. I'm John Lovett. I'm Tommy Vietor. I'm Dan Pfeiffer on today's Pod. The gang's all here to share our thoughts about the entire Democratic National Convention, including the big speech that Joe Biden delivered last night accepting the party's presidential nomination. We'll also preview the airing of petty grievances and nut ball conspiracies to take place at next week's Republican National Convention. One quick note before we dive in.
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All right, guys, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. formally accepted the Democratic nomination for president last night in a speech that, by most accounts was the finest performance of his political career. His twenty four minute address, the shortest in modern history, was delivered to a largely empty room from a podium in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. Biden used the speech to lay out an alternative vision of how he would lead the country through what he called four major crises the pandemic, the recession, racial justice and climate change.
He also presented himself as the anti Trump and how he would govern a divided nation.
Here are some clips.
If you can trust me. With the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I'll be an ally of the light, not the darkness. It's time for us, for we, the people to come together. And make no mistake, United, we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America.
But while I'll be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I'll work hard for those who didn't support me, as hard for them as I did for those who did vote for me. That's the job of a president to represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment. So what were the calls for? Hope and light and love. Hope for our future.
Light to see our way forward and love for one another.
Guy's reaction to the speech, Tommy. Well, look, the Lord of the Light doesn't have the strongest base outside of western us. So, you know, we'll see how that one plays.
I'm sorry, a few thoughts. Like one, Republicans and some people on the left helped Joe Biden enormously by by setting the expectations at him, being able to leave his basement because he was in cognitive decline. So I just want to remind those people that they are morons. On top of that, Joe Biden delivered the hell out of that speech and it was especially powerful when he got to the coronavirus section. He said Donald Trump had failed in his basic duty to protect us.
And it's hard to argue with that. So, you know, I think it was a he did an incredibly good job. The recent polling makes it seem like the whole election is about the coronavirus. I think he did a good job explaining that failure and his plan to do it better. He spoke directly to the loss. It was a good job. Joe Biden did a great job.
Love it. You've written some of these before. Twenty four minutes. That's the thing that stuck out to me. How about a twenty four minutes?
If it was we had talked about this, I don't even know. We done so much content, but I remember when we talked about it.
But for for a campaign speechwriter's campaign speech was a campaign experts reaction.
I mean we're trying to compete with YouTube star. I mean, Dan is coming to us live from his house that Eric Garcetti is trying to turn the power off. But that's how much of an Internet sensation it has become. It's just him just doing Tic Tacs. But, yeah, it was 20. It was short.
It was to the point. I came away from the the entire convention feeling incredibly pumped, incredibly excited. I think the low expectations weren't just set for the media. I think if we're all being honest, we set them for ourselves. And Joe Biden in the speech and in the speeches that led up to it, I think showed me reminded everybody what his strengths are as a candidate. And I think it put us in an incredibly strong position going into the Republican convention and to the weeks after.
Dan, from a political perspective, what do you think what do you think Joe Biden sought to accomplish with that speech?
And what do you think the campaign did accomplish with that?
I think this speech is actually the culmination of a strategy that he's had since the virus hit that we probably don't talk about enough, which is Joe Biden is running what is essentially a Rose Garden campaign as the challenger he is. He is filling the void that Trump has left as president. And it's like that, as our friend David Axelrod tweeted, this was more of a presidential address than a nomination speech. He he talked about bringing the country together and mobilizing behind defeating this virus.
He talked about healing the wounds within the country from having lost 170000 our fellow citizens in five months, like the sort of things that normal presidents do when Donald Trump is incapable of doing. Joe Biden did that and he's basically playing the role of president and Donald Trump won't won't do. And I think that really stood out and has worked for him. If you look at all of the images of Biden, the speeches he's giving in, some of this is obviously related to the the restrictions to the primaries.
But he's always in front of flags. It's it's all very serious. It all feels very presidential. And I think this speech came at the end of that. He had two tasks. One was to fill in the gaps in knowledge about him as a person. And the second task was fill in the gaps in knowledge about his policy. And that's what he sought to do last night. And I think the two were intricately tied together and it's necessary to do both.
And I think he and and his campaign feel very, very good that he did exactly what he needed to do on that stage last night. I really liked that it was simple, it was direct, there is a tendency in convention speeches to check every box on every issue, go off on a lot of tangents. He did not. I like that he framed it around for crises. He was very clear on what he would do about the pandemic, on what he would do around the economy.
His economic message was sufficiently populist.
I think aside from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, he was maybe the only one major speaker at the convention to talk about the economy and sort of a serious way in an economically populist way. So I think that was very effective. Look, they should all be twenty four minute speeches. I think part of the reason it was so good and it's not going to be as talked about as much because people don't think about this. But like, you know, Barack Obama's speech was 40 minutes in 2008.
Hillary Clinton's was fifty six minutes and 20, 60, which is just like there are no attention spans for speeches like that.
Now, look, all of the speeches were shorter at this convention because there was no crowd. And we can talk about that a little bit later.
But I do think that the shortness of the speech helped him focus it and and helps the sort of simplicity and directness of the message. I don't think he like he reached like a few rhetorical heights here and there. But mostly it was it was a message to a country that had been that that is scared by this pandemic that sees a president who does not care about them. And his message was, I do care about you and here is my plan to fix it.
And I will be different. And like sometimes the election might just not be more complicated than that.
I think also no audience helps because it's just it's more of a conversation. There's no, like, shitty zip lines designed for terrible applause. Right. Like Con Don is about to be gone is something we probably heard during the primary that may be literal. I also thought that his comments about patriotism were important because there is a lot that is wrong in America, but people still don't want to feel bad about it. And he painted a picture of a better improved America could look like, which I think all politicians should do.
I also came to this week knowing a lot about Biden's story and the tragedy he'd endured, but I was still overwhelmed the times by the volume of it. And and I just like I don't say that in a critical way at all. I just didn't expect them to to center the family lost as much as they did, because I just can't imagine how hard it is to relive that constantly. But I guess to understand Joe Biden is to understand that loss in that tragedy.
And so it was really beautiful the way, you know, they have the tribute to Beau and they really directly talked about, like all that he's endured.
I mean, it's I think it is the it is the primary way in which I think Joe Biden views the world is through the prism of the tragedies he has faced and how he's overcome them. I mean, his political career began with a tragedy. His wife and daughter died in that car accident in between getting elected to the Senate and the Senate. And as he talked about in that video, he almost didn't go to the Senate so he could stay home with Beau and Hunter.
And he probably, as he has talked about, would be retired right now if Beau had not passed away and sort of propelled him into one last chapter to sort of do this for Beau and all of that, which I thought Dr. Biden did an incredible job in her speech, ties together with why Joe Biden is the right person in this moment to heal a nation in desperate need of healing. Yeah, her her line.
How do you make a a nation whole the same way you make a broken family hole is basically sums up the entire convention message and why Joe Biden is the right person for the time, like I think we may have.
You know, I think we've talked about it before, but the pandemic has really made Joe Biden the right man for the moment in a way that might not have been true before. And now that those you can really see why through this convention, why he is the right person to lead us through this dark time.
Um, I just wanna read a few reactions to the speech. Quote, It was an enormously effective speech. Chris Wallace, Fox News. Joe Biden just hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth. His best, Dana Perino, Fox News.
It was a very good speech. Karl Rove, Fox News. Why do you guys think Biden's speech worked for for all these Fox News goons?
It sort of fits with what we said, I think, when we were sort of anticipating what this convention would look like. It was what we talked about earlier, which is that it was a speech sort of grounded in empathy, in larger philosophical principles. There was a, you know, a strong policy section. But for the most part, it was trying to tell a story about the kind of leadership we need right now. And it was a very Biden speech in that, you know, he went back to his old favorites, his Seamus Heaney, and is sort of kind of, I think, kind of his classics that are very much, you know, America is a great country and we're better than this.
And I saw a few conservatives saying things like, excuse me, how is this a country that has systemic injustice and yet is also filled with. Decent people who want to build a better world, and I just want to say you're so close, you're so close to answer the question, all you have to do is stop thinking you've found a logical and just answer the question.
And just to the point that John don't regret about Biden being the right person for this moment. I think one of the criticisms of Biden throughout I think the primaries, something that I would love is that, you know, oh, is he is he kind of able to adjust? Is he going to kind of reflect the moment that we're in? But I think we saw in the convention the strength of having somebody who hasn't been particularly buffeted by the news cycle and who knows who he is and knows the kind of speech he wants to present, the kind of person he wants to be.
Because to John's point, I really think it does.
You know, it does speak to the moment that we're in on that list.
That list, John just said, is such a brutal group of people, though. It's been. I love the clothes.
I like who else who else are going to trot out?
Sorry to your point. It though it also takes discipline to have a convention speech like that where you go back and play some of your greatest hits, like some of those were lines that Biden has used before because pundits and reporters who have paid attention to your speeches closely will say, oh, he's already used that line.
But 90 percent of the people watching that speech from home have never heard any of those lines. And they worked for Joe Biden throughout the primary and the general election. So he should say them again. Right. Just and it requires discipline to do that. But the Biden campaign usually has that kind of discipline, or at least they've showed it so far.
There was Dave Weigel tweeted from The Washington Post that there were zero mentions of Donald Trump's name in Biden speech, compared with the twenty two times Hillary Clinton mentioned his name in twenty sixteen during her convention speech.
Me, this sort of goes to your point earlier about how there weren't a lot of, like, canned applause lines, which is and a bunch of Trump zingers, which and to be fair, it's not just like Hillary Clinton that did that in 2016, like Democrats have been doing that throughout 2016 all the way through twenty twenty. What did you think of his decision to sort of not mention Trump by name?
Yeah, I mean, it's interesting question because it was clearly a decision, right? I mean, everyone knows who he's talking when he says this president has completely screwed up the coronavirus response. But I suspect they did it because they think these attacks just land a little bit softer when you aren't naming Trump by name. And as much as us progressives, pundits like we enjoy political combat, we want to see Trump get slapped around a little bit rhetorically. I do think you are often more convincing to swing voters with a lighter touch.
The coronavirus is is probably the best example. If you walk into a focus group of swing voters and say Trump has blood on his hands, he's responsible for one hundred and seventy thousand deaths. I think they think they give you the Heisman and they say relax a little bit. If you say Trump didn't create the virus, but he's responsible for mismanaging the response. Everyone agrees with that. And I think it's more effective message. Yeah, I mean, I think I think the worst Trump is, the less you have to point that out.
Yeah, this is really the whole, you know, like the fact that we have one hundred seventy thousand Americans dead from a pandemic that the president hasn't been able to control, like all. And Joe Biden did this at the beginning of the speech.
He said, all I have I'm not going to go into a whole bunch of rhetoric about Donald Trump, like about the president. All I have to do is just tell you the statistics of where the country is right now. And I think it does land a lot harder.
I do not talk about, like Trump's reaction to the speech. He tweeted in 47 years, Joe did none of the things of which he now speaks.
He will never change just words, which I thought it was really funny. Then Benjy Sarlin from NBC tweeted, Quick pivot from this geezer can't string two sentences together to trust. Not his honeyed words. He doesn't really say which he now speaks. Yeah, OK, go.
I mean, Dan, what do you think of that new message? Because I you know, I do think that Joe Biden's been around in Washington for a while and hasn't changed anything is probably more potent for Trump than he's a senile old geezer who can't string a sentence together. But I don't know. I mean, he's invested a lot in that first man.
Yeah, he I mean, there is still always been this dissonance between what Trump tweets or says at a press conference when he's angry and what the actual strategy of his campaign is like. Hit the ads his campaign is running right now are about Joe Biden being a typical Democrat who will raise your taxes and be soft on immigration and has been in Washington for nearly a half century. That is a much better message from Trump. I'm not saying it doesn't really work, but if there's anything we've learned the last few months is that Donald Trump is incapable of convincing anyone that Joe Biden is an antifa super soldier.
And Joe Biden's speech demonstrates the fatal flaw in a strategy that that depends on Joe Biden not being able to deliver speeches. Well, because he just delivered one well.
And so I think it can work for Trump. It does. Like we may talk about this later, but there is this been this debate about why did the convention spent so much time talking about Joe Biden, the person and less about it? Maybe not as much as people may say about either Donald Trump or Joe Biden's policy plans.
It's because voters particularly skeptical, periodic or nonvoters.
Their default position is that nothing is going to change if I get involved, and that is particularly true for someone who is very vulnerable to being painted as a typical politician because he's been a member of the political establishment for so long. And so in order to get their vote, you have to before you can ever convince them about the merits of your policy proposals, you have to convince them that you are a person who will deliver on your work, who will follow through on the things you promise.
And that is what all of the Joe Biden is a good person who will help people, who understands tragedy. That's what all of that is about. The personal characteristics and values are a predicate for any of the policy plans to have any impact. And it is a it demonstrates to me that Joe Biden's campaign has learned some of the very fundamental lessons from 2016 where the Clinton campaign felt they could not convince people about anything new about Hillary Clinton. And so they focus on Donald Trump and to a lesser extent on her plans without selling people the idea that she would do what she said she would do.
I also think that 2016, Donald Trump is in many ways an abstraction. He is a he is a looming threat that we're trying to convince people is real. And so I am less critical of the decision at that time to try to figure out how to paint a story about Donald Trump. And also, one of the lessons from 2016 is when the country at the time was focused on Trump's flaws, focused on the Access Hollywood tape, focused on the chaos, focused on the racism.
His numbers did take a dip. It did work. It was that people had a short memory. And by the time we get to the Comey letter, in the focus returns to Hillary Clinton, the effect of that seemed to wane. And so I wonder, even if you can imagine a concerted kind of focus on Donald Trump might have an impact at some point. It's certainly not now at the convention. It might be later on. But right now, this is an opportunity for people who already know enough about Donald Trump to decide whether or not they're willing to go along with the Washington Post ABC poll, 56 percent of Biden's voters are voting for Biden, mostly because they oppose Trump.
And 74 percent of Trump voters are voting for Trump, mostly because they support Trump. And I think Biden wants to get those numbers a little more on balance on his side. And that's what this convention is about. That is a selling people on. Joe Biden is a bigger strategic objective than selling people on why Trump is bad.
I think the biggest difference between 2016 and now concerning Trump is in 2016, there was a group of people who voted for Donald Trump knowing that he was a cruel asshole because they thought, well, he's a cruel asshole, but he may he might shake up things in Washington and fix shit and make my life better.
Now, Donald Trump's cruelty and him being an asshole is making their lives immeasurably worse because it is it is preventing him from addressing the biggest challenge in our in our lives, which is the pandemic and the recession and and this call for racial justice and climate change and any number of issues. And so now his faulty character traits are leading to consequences that are devastating for people. Back in twenty sixteen, they thought that the faulty character traits were just something that they had to live with.
For some guy who's going to shake things up, he's still in polling, represents change and Biden represents more of the status quo. He's still seen by a lot of people as someone who will shake it up. Now, the context is different, the reasons you point out, but that's why he wants to get back to Joe Biden is a typical liberal politician and he represents change. Whether you can do that, a pandemic you're fucking up is a I think that's a tall order, but that's probably the safest place for Trump to be then.
I totally disagree. I think he should go back to attacking the host of Morning Joe and deeply, deeply personal criminal terms. That would be my pet.
I mean, he missed a huge opportunity with the prime time slot for the Morning Joe roundtable participant Jon Meacham last night.
So we'll get to you later. Meacham, I'm just.
This special episode of Positive America is brought to you by Magic Spoon. Boy, do we love Magic Spoon. Tommy, did you happen to get an email from Magic Spoon today talking about their new special Summer Flavors?
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That's just not going to happen. But I'm glad they have that in there anyway. I might have to buy some more today. I haven't seen you two guys like something this much since Barack Obama was like there's no blue in red states.
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Let's talk about the rest of the final night of the convention. The two hour show is emceed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and featured remarks from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Baldwin, Tammy Duckworth, Cory Booker, Pete Budha, Judge and other Democratic candidates who ran against Biden in the primary. The night also featured segments with Biden's children and grandchildren in a moving tribute to Biden's late son, Beau.
But one of the most powerful moments of the week came when a 13 year old from New Hampshire named Braden Herrington spoke about how Joe Biden helped him overcome his stutter. Here's a clip.
We all want the world to feel better. We need the world to feel better. I'm just a regular kid, and then the short amount of time Joe Biden made room for concern about something that bothered me my whole life, Joe Biden cared. Imagine what he could do for all of us kids like me. I'm counting on you to elect someone they can all look up to, someone who cares, someone who will make our country in the world feel better.
We're counting on you to elect Joe Biden.
Was anyone not crying during that video?
I mean, look, I mean, you start in an emotional place because it's just inspiring to see a kid brave enough to do that. This does tell you everything you need to know about Joe Biden in the middle of a presidential campaign. He takes time to read poetry to a kid and teaches them how to mark up words to pronounce them more easily. This story is it's heartwarming. It's moving. It's also not remotely surprising to anyone who has worked around Joe Biden because there are literally countless stories like this of him just going out of his way to quietly help people to to call a person he met in the West Wing basement who was getting a tour, who lost a family member, calls them on their cell phone, you know, a month later, just because that's the kind of guy he is.
We heard it from the rabbi in Delaware who was touched by Biden's kindness. There's the Amtrak story. There's no political upside to any of this is just who he is. And I do think that a lot of people who watch that probably agree with Braden when he said, you know, we need the world to feel better. The flip side will be Trump, right? Who probably has storm troopers brutalized protesters because he thinks there's a political upside to that.
So it's a contrast. Now, of course, there will be people who say, I have seen them on Twitter. That's great, that he's a nice guy. But shouldn't we be electing people based on their policy positions and their ideology and what they're going to do?
And if they don't go far enough, if you don't support Medicare for all, does it really matter if you're a kind and decent to people?
What you think about that? I love it. I was it's funny that I didn't even without even anticipating your question, I'll tell you that, like, not as a sort of pundit, but just as in a as like a citizen myself, as somebody observing this convention. I am somebody that approaches politics a lot that way. Right. I don't care that much about the the sentimental aspects. You know, my my my cynical instinct is I absolutely believe when you see that video of Joe Biden talking to Braiden long ago and you absolutely do see somebody who sees it and really wants to help and really wants to convey it, really wants to kind of let that kid know that he can help.
It feels incredibly sincere. It's also part of his political brand, right. That he is the kind of person that does this kind of thing. And there is to be political upside to being to making part of who you are as a politician, someone who cares and gets involved with people in their lives. But that said, one of my lessons to me has just a about politics over the last six months is absent the empathy, the basic human empathy of a leader.
You actually come to see why it is so valuable, why some of the artifice of what what a president can do, some of the leadership, the kind of intangible, kind of ineffable aspects of what we look for. An American president, an American president derided by Twitter, derided by cynical people like me, has value in an emergency, not just because it makes people feel better, but because it gets them to do things for each other, gets them to wear masks at them to take stay at home order series that gets them to look out for one another.
And in a in a palpable, real, tangible way gets people to treat each other better rather than racing golf carts at each other in the middle of the villages outside of Orlando. Right. Like we have seen over six months, why empathy actually has real substantive value in a president. The other piece of this, too, is nothing about this convention, nothing about John Kasich speaking at this convention, nothing about Mike Bloomberg trying out soundbites has moved Joe Biden's policy platform to the right.
The policy platform is what it was at the beginning. It is what it was at the end. He has shifted to the left based on where the consensus of the Democratic Party has moved. Yeah, I think character has consequences in politics, particularly when it's the character of the person with the most power and the biggest bully pulpit in the country, an empathetic, decent person isn't necessarily a good president.
But you can't have a president who's not an empathetic, decent person. Yeah, yeah, I think that's right.
So what did you guys think of the final night? The final night? And really the entire convention did a fantastic job testifying to Biden's character and his broad coalition.
We started to talk about this earlier, but do we think enough was done throughout the whole week to highlight Joe Biden's vision and his plans, particularly his economic plans, knowing that, you know, every poll we've looked at, the one place that Trump is still hanging on is people think he's either as good as Joe Biden at managing the economy or potentially better in some polls.
I mean, I guess I'm looking for something different, like when when there's polling in the next couple of days. I want to see if Joe Biden's personal approval rating went up. I want to see if enthusiasm to vote for him went up as opposed to what Dan was talking about earlier, which is enthusiasm to vote against Trump. Do people in focus groups seem generally more aware of his bio and his character in a story? I get the that people on Twitter want policy.
I think that people in voting booths want humanity and the whole fucking stupid trope, someone you want to have a beer with thing. And so I think in that sense, the way they were able to do, you know, tell his story through a bunch more taped videos than just speeches was incredibly effective. And, you know, that's what I will be looking for in the numbers. I love it.
I came away thinking that that was an incredibly successful convention. And I think they did an incredible job adjusting to the format. They turned it into an asset, a Herculean task. It could have been a disaster. It wasn't it was not just not a disaster. It was it turned the lack of a crowd into an opportunity for the seriousness of the moment to to to speak to people, to be up to kind of be a gathering place at a time of mourning where we've never had that.
We haven't had that for six months because we have a monster in the White House.
I'm trying to interrogate my own feelings to say like, all right, what do I think was missing? What, like, yes, I'm in the tank. Like, what did I feel like? Maybe we could have seen more of, you know, by the end of the fourth night, I felt like we were over talked on some of these Republican voices and these moderate voices. Kind of there's a little bit of I think Democrats are sometimes afraid to be their own validators like I.
I get having Kasich. I don't know if I need Kasich, Jon Meacham, Cindy McCain, Mike Bloomberg like that. There was a lot of Colin Powell. So I wonder about that. I wonder if there was enough for the kind of young progressives who are more skeptical of Joe Biden. Those are the questions I have. I don't offer it as criticism. I don't I don't feel as though I know the answer because I think we need to see how it shakes out.
Dan would do that? Yeah, I mean, I I think the main takeaway is it did an amazing job. Joe Biden delivering you deliver all the speeches were great. The like the logistics of pulling this off and putting together a compelling show. I think this is actually the most. Effective convention in modern American history when it comes to persuasion, because people the people watching on television actually got to see the videos and to see some of the stuff, they would typically be on the undercard.
It would not have shown up on television. And so they get a huge. Yes. Like world like. Did they do enough? We'll find out in November. I don't know. It's like I like if I'm looking for things to be concerned about, I am less concerned about the absence of policy because I think the first as I said before, I think the first task is selling voters that Joe Biden will actually deliver on the things he's promising.
Before you talk about the things he's promising.
I also think those are things that can and must be communicated in paid communications targeted to voters who probably didn't tune in last night. Where I have concern is the same one love it has, which is I actually found the Republicans like John Kasich as much as I don't particularly adore him being there in order to help make the case to Republicans who are thinking about possibly voting for Biden. I think that we we need that. That is the only path to 270 to have that.
But there's the other side of that coin, which is Joe Biden is currently, at least prior to his convention, underperforming Hillary Clinton's numbers with Latino voters, particularly young Latino voters. He's right at Hillary Clinton's numbers with African-American voters not underperforming Obama's numbers, particularly among young African-American voters, and that that is a set of voters that we are very likely going to need, not just in this election, but we certainly need in the long term future of this party.
And I you know, if I'm looking for something to worry about, it is the balance between young, progressive and progressive of color and older, white, moderate Republicans.
Yeah, I had too little criticism's like I agree with that that keynote montage had a lot of amazing, exciting young voices. I do think it would have been great to break that up and give those people more time. The other thing is, I think it was a real mistake to not have any Muslim speakers at the convention, like every Muslim in this country, has been treated with suspicion since 9/11. And it's unfair. And I don't think it's enough to be like, hey, we're the party that doesn't have a Muslim ban.
I think you need to actively demonstrate that inclusiveness by having them there overall. You know, I can't say enough about this convention in terms of what they what they pulled off in the situation.
I think that Joe Biden did a good job in his speech carrying the economic message, which maybe wasn't carried as much throughout the week by other speakers. But it's, you know, the most important person to do that is Joe Biden.
And I also think, like I don't know that voters go into the booth and start casting their ballots based on a checklist of policies, but a bit more like a feeling that Joe Biden cares about me and will fight for me on a number of issues that I care about. Right. And so I do think that Joe Biden conveyed in his speech in the convention, conveyed that at a time of great challenge in the middle of a pandemic and a recession, this is the guy who cares about you and the other person on the ballot does not.
And that's the ultimate choice, you know, and again, like like you said, Dan, I think the campaign will probably run many ads with a lot more specifics about Joe Biden's economic plans. I think Bernie Sanders did a fantastic job of listing some of the policies that Joe Biden would pursue. And I hope they do that more between now and November.
I also think, too, like it is absolutely true that they sort of stripped out the kind of Trump zingers, in part because there was no audience. But the speeches from Bernie Sanders, speeches from Barack Obama's speech from Michelle Obama, there weren't zingers in those speeches. There weren't classic political hits, but they were speeches about just how high the stakes were, how dangerous Donald Trump is that that kind of put that sort of weave.
So we've moved so far beyond he's a reality show.
You know, his tweets, it was really kind of Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama making a kind of plea to people that like this is the stakes are total. Right. And I do think you didn't have to have Joe Biden make that argument because I think it was made so successfully over the course of the convention.
I mean, the the best positive arguments for any candidate are implicit contrast arguments against their opponent. And that's what the entire thing was about. Joe Biden being decent, Joe Biden being someone who wants to unite the country, reach out to that's all about who Donald Trump is not. And that was even if you don't mention his name in the speech, that was abundantly clear to voters.
Just want to quickly talk about the entire week in terms of format. Obviously, we had a convention without crowds and not in a physical convention hall.
There were four hosts, multiple locations, pre-recorded videos mixed with live speeches.
And one of the week's highlights was the usually boring roll call, where each state officially nominates the winning and runner up candidates. This year, we get a virtual tour of the United States and its territories. Here's a clip.
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Nobody got go to the table. Nobody is never, never. It's like it's the one thing like it. It doesn't travel well. So I have neat since the pandemic started. That's true.
Yeah. I haven't had Kelmer either. All right. What did you guys think of the format?
What worked in your opinion? What didn't work? Why should we keep for the future? What should we bring back once the pandemic is over?
I mean, I think the question about like, OK, will conventions fundamentally change now because we all saw this one and how effective it could be and how much shorter it could be is interesting. I think the challenge is a lot of this is going to be up to the networks because at some point they're going to balk at just turning their airwaves over to totally newsless pretaped propaganda videos, which I'm not criticizing them, but that's what they were. Right.
I also think that the party will find value in gathering people in one place. You speechwriter's, I think, would agree that we're all addicted to big venues and big applause like people like that. It feels like there's momentum. So the tape stuff was so powerful. But I'm wondering how you can how you can keep that in a post pandemic world where there is a space where people are physically gathering.
I'm with you, Tommy. I'm I'm a little short on the predictions of, like, we'll never go back again to the old. The old like, I think that because of the seriousness of this moment, a lot of these speeches worked incredibly well with no crowd, which is a very, very hard thing to pull off. I think Joe Biden's speech pulled it off particularly well, and that was very, very hard for him to do.
But I think in the future, like, look, we definitely don't need 15 speeches from politicians in a convention hall that just drag on all night. We do not need that. The big speeches, I think you do need them in front of a big crowd that's going to be cheering.
And I think it will help those speeches in the future. I really do.
But I love like I would do a tour around the United States again for the roll call vote. I would do a lot of these pre-recorded videos in lieu of some boring speeches for sure. Like I think there's elements to keep. But I do think once this thing is when pandemic's over, it'll be nice together again. I don't know, what do you get with Dan?
But I'm a little torn on this because there are some larger problems with how the conventions are set up, because they are so expensive and you have to raise all of the money before you have an actual nominee. It ends up being a whole bunch of corporate money and it's really not awesome and it often ends up losing money for the cities that host it. You can see some upsides to why you want to sort of get rid of that.
There is definite like one of the losses here is if we had had and like this is something that I think our campaign in 08 really led with, which is we used our convention in Denver to as a massive organizing tool to flip that state in Colorado prior to that was a pretty red state that we lost for a number of elections in a row.
And that's why Obama had his nomination speech at a Giants football stadium instead of in front of a bunch of delegates, because you could get a bunch of volunteers in there and get them to knock doors and do all these other things.
And I like, you know, that the Biden campaign generally do their campaign managers and the people helped lead the effort to do that for us in 08, that she and Ben Wikler would have maximized that Milwaukee opportunity to build their organization. So you're you're losing some of that out?
Like I did think like Tommy did, like there's no way the networks are ever going to let give their airtime over to Tracee Ellis Ross to say the Biden campaign needs money. Text three zero. But I know. But, you know, live events are the only things that drive real ratings on linear television anymore. And so they probably will want that. It's it's award shows, sports and political conventions and debates.
And so maybe they will, like, just run our propaganda in future years because they'll they they'll need the ratings.
We sure will hear if they will, yeah, if they want, we wish we'll be here.
But yeah, look, I think what actually happens is kind of like in a sense, like sort of trivial, like, of course, we're going to take the best elements of the taped versions and the at home version and mix it in with a big live event. I think one of the other pieces of this is it's not just the format, it's that the realities of not being in one place and not having a big convention hall required figuring out how to concentrate the entire convention into two hours every night.
And it meant that they squeezed in far more speakers, far more people. Look, we I agree that we should have heard I would keep the two hours a night for sure. Yes.
Well, I think one of the reasons I think like even like the networks felt obliged to take so much of it, as opposed to in previous years where they might have taken one big hour and then had pundits in a circle being like they're talking back there.
But about what you can say is because is because it doesn't matter more. Van Jones. Do I miss do I miss the CNN Grill?
Of course I do. Of course I do.
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Huge indorse. All right. Let's talk about next week, Chacho. The Republican National Convention was originally supposed to be held in North Carolina, then Florida. Now it's Trump's speech at the White House with a mix of pretaped and live events, with the president reportedly pushing to make as much of it live as possible because we are told he's a great showman, a producer at heart. We don't have a full schedule of speakers yet. But the Trump campaign did confirm that the theme will be honoring the great American story and that Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Joni Ernst and Kristi Noem will be speaking.
There are also reports that Jared Kushner may speak. Indicted former Trump aide Steve Bannon, who was arrested at sea this week by the Postal Service, is still part of the program. And Republicans have also invited the Missouri couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters and the Covington Catholic High School student who went viral for harassing indigenous protester Nathan Phillips last year and then sued CNN for it. Sounds fun.
What kind of vibe are we getting for the type of overall message we'll hear next?
Look, I think the gun couple is exactly the message they're trying to send, which is if you're rich and white and afraid, anything you do is justified. Honoring the great American story. That's it. That's the theme. Yeah, I mean, the theme seems to be I just said it's the most fiercely negative. You're all going to die. Fear porn like culture wars suburban moms are morphing into. You know, Gentiva, I mean, like there is no version of the Republican National Convention where you talk to a bunch of adorable grandkids who then humanize Donald Trump.
His whole family hates them. He's a terrible person. He's a narcissist incapable of empathy. So it seems pretty obvious that will be lacking that element. I mean, it is kind of funny to see, like Mitch McConnell is saying, he can't make it, which is so funny in a Zoome convention world. Can't make it. I'm busy like you're the you're the Senate majority.
We've all tried that, Mitch. It doesn't work. Does it work hard to time?
And I think Mitch McConnell didn't get an invite because Mitch McConnell is the least popular politician in almost the entire country. And so I don't think Donald Trump wanted him there. Also, he's not a dynamic speaker. That is true.
No, I disagree with all of you. I'm excited to see what these dipshits come up with that it's going to be interesting if they all get to watch it. So that'll be fun. I just I just love this.
I love the idea of like it's like a sweet video with music and it's Eric Trump like like Hunter Biden being like. And I'll never forget, when my father introduced me to Melania, he said, it's going to be your mom if it's signs.
So if you want to try to try to take Sarah, we should we should ask to because who knows? It could be good. We don't want to we don't want to set expectations too low like they did to us. CNN CNN reports that early drafts of Trump's acceptance speech closely resemble his first convention speech in 2016, where he declared that he alone can fix things in his July 4th speech, where he promised law and order with the with front of Mount Rushmore.
There, Kellyanne Conway said it would also be a progress report on his first term. They reportedly liked the idea of finding real people to deliver these messages. We talked about sort of the Missouri couple, but they also have Alice Johnson, who whose sentence he commuted, write like he's done some criminal justice pardons, not just fucking Joe Arpaio and his gang of goons, but of like actual Americans. He's pardoned. I think they have a woman whose husband is a police officer who was killed when he made a call during the racial justice protests, Black Lives Matter protests.
So I do think they're going to they're trying to convey a sense of like this. You know, I think one of the Trump people said the inner cities are dangerous now and it's going to spread to the suburbs soon. If you have, you know, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris as as you know, in the White House. So what do what do we think about the efficacy?
Look, no one should underestimate the power of just vicious, negative politics, but a progress report on how the first term is going. We're going to do that. Things are pretty bad and really bad there.
I mean, after watching this for a few months, I'm pretty sure we're more dialed in to the Trump campaign strategy than Kellyanne Conway.
You're just constantly commenting from an entirely different universe than everything else is happening.
I will say I think it's worth remembering, too, like the Republican convention in 2016 was a mess. It was a dark, negative, kind of ugly affair with a bunch of goober speakers and Donald Trump as president. So I do you know, I approach this, expecting it to be a complete mess with a lot of fear mongering and lies and deception and and grievance politics. I think the question is only like, you know, how little will help Trump and how little will it matter, I guess.
Yeah, I mean, trying to put myself in the shoes of a voter who cast a ballot for Trump in 2016 and is disappointed with him, but thinking about doing it again or just thinking about doing it for the first time, I guess you would probably be wondering, OK, the guy has sort of been an asshole. This pandemic is out of control. The economy is not doing well either. Like, I guess I would be asking, like, what is he going to do for me?
How is he going to turn things around? And the question is like, do we think the Trump campaign or Donald Trump are capable of presenting a agenda for the second term, a vision? Are they going to be able to talk about the pandemic? I mean, like, Dan, if you are planning this convention, what what should they actually do?
Like what message should scare us that they would potentially be at the convention, that Joe Biden is a typical Democrat member of the political establishment for the last half a century. Like, what you have to do is Joe Biden is massively over performing right now with people who have rarely, if ever, voted for a Democrat in their life and because they think Joe Biden is different than the Democrats that they see on Fox News, that they think he's different than Bernie Sanders or anyone else based on the caricature of those individuals.
And they and they think they associate with Barack Obama, who has an 18 percent favorable rating among Trump 2016 voters. And so you want to make him seem like the type of Democrat that these people have been voting against their entire life. Like if Trump in a different world with a different Trump, you would try to you would talk about covid, talk about your response, talk about your plans going forward, talk about progress on the vaccine. He is incapable, I imagine, of doing that.
Right. That's just not he cannot acknowledge the reality of what's happening.
So what like what among technically achievable strategies does Trump have? It's to define Joe Biden and define him in a negative way, because when you look at the polling, people are not. He has been unable to make Joe Biden someone that Republicans base, Republican, even base Republican voters hate. And he's got to turn him into something that sort of stabilizes this election, because I don't think, like, Trump just has to get the election close enough to steal.
Right. And I mean, steal through the post office. I mean, steal through voter suppression. I mean, steal through the inherent Republican advantage in the Electoral College. And he's only he's not that many points away from that. And so just laying a little wood in a coherent, believable way about Joe Biden could bring this election into the test zone. Joe Biden, more of the same radical change.
Yes, that's the problem. Right. That is the absolute as the like. That's why that tweet in front of Biden speak like obviously Trump was insane. Yelling about Obama, wiretapping him and not endorsing a guy like that is unhinged. The Joe Biden 47 years in Washington, Donald Trump did not compose that because he obviously is never used the term of which he speaks like this. There's not a turn of phrase coming to Donald Trump. So that is planned.
So I think you're going to hear a lot of what is Joe Biden achieved in 50 years in Washington.
I do think it's the flip side of, Dan, what you said earlier, that in many ways Biden is running and showing what a traditional president would do and kind of in many ways like embracing the trappings of an incumbent. And Donald Trump's goal throughout this campaign is to be a challenger. Right. That that covid is a reset. It happened to him. Now we're kind of at a baseline, you know, who do you trust to get the economy back?
Who do you trust to deliver change? Who do you trust to get things back to how they were before? And, you know, it requires a great deal of misinformation and propaganda to get there.
But he has that on his back, like we should believe what Dan said and then release the unedited audio in a week or so.
We do we do too much performance criticism, but I am trying to imagine him doing a, like, low energy speech off the prompter in the Rose Garden, like me doing the same thing.
It's going to yeah, he's got a great crowd he's going to bring. But I like I don't know, those tend to just be weird, like sniffling messes. But again, like that's probably caring too much about the performance. I agree. I mean, I think it's even with the crowd, a crowd outside for a crowd outside to sound really good and energetic.
You need like ten thousand people. Maybe they'll Pepino is like the NBA, at least a thousand guys. You've never seen me at the NBA, have you? Have you have a crowd of a couple hundred people? You have a crowd of a couple hundred people on the lawn.
I don't know that that's going to give him what he needs and he's going to like. The danger for Trump is that Fourth of July speech when he reads a Stephen Miller speech and he's it sounds like a fucking hostage statement and Trump just doesn't sound good, like Trump sounds much crazier when he's off the cuff, but he at least sounds more Trump when he reads those prepared speeches.
He sounds fucking terrible because Stephen Miller is not just a horrible racist.
He's a bad writer. Expectations setting. He's had he had a week they had a week to look at this, I'm with Michael. I'm worried that he's going to like I think the Donald is going have a bunch of doctors talking about how the vaccine and the treatments are right around the corner.
And if and if Joe Biden comes and raises your taxes and, you know, calls in front of the White House, like all of this is going to go away and we're so close to the cure and we're so close to the economy being turned around. And Joe Biden is the only person standing between us and a cure and a better.
I think that's exactly right. I think it's what do you want America to look like once we've defeated the virus? And by the way, inside of this vial is what Putin gave me. And I'm going to take it right.
And that's it. That's a surprise.
Look, I think. Yeah, good luck selling that. You, Trump, are the are the key to curing the coronavirus. I'm not sure there's a lot of evidence to substantiate that claim. I expect a lot of raw racism from I think that's unfair to me.
He has done more to bring us the herd immunity than anyone else. Sorry. Right there. Right? Oh, no. That's the slogan. All right. That's all the time we have for today. Guys, great convention.
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