WASHINGTON — A former president and the Democratic nominee for vice president were at center stage Wednesday during the third night of the Democratic National Convention.
Former President Barack Obama tore into President Donald Trump in a night otherwise dominated by female Democratic leaders. Capping it off was Sen. Kamala Harris, the first Black woman and Asian American on a major presidential ticket, formally accepting the nomination to become vice president.
The event was emceed by actress Kerry Washington. Here are some highlights:
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in the head in 2011, spoke about her painful recovery during a segment on gun violence in the United States. Her address, which lasted a minute and 26 seconds, was the longest she has given since the shooting, according to her husband, the U.S. Senate candidate and former astronaut Mark Kelly.
At the beginning of her video address, Giffords plays "America: My Country, 'Tis of Thee" on a French horn, an instrument she was well-versed in as a child but had to relearn after the shooting.
"My recovery is a daily fight, but fighting makes me stronger. Words once came easily; today I struggle with speech. But I have not lost my voice. America needs all of us to speak out, even when you have to fight to find the words," Giffords said.
"We are at a crossroads. We can let the shooting continue or we can act. We can protect our families, our future. We can vote. We can be on the right side of history. We must elect Joe Biden. He was there for me; he'll be there for you, too."
Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton urged Americans to "vote and convince everyone you know to vote" for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
"We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can't sneak or steal his way to victory," Clinton said from her home in Chappaqua, New York. "Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are," she said.
"I wish Donald Trump had been a better president. Because America needs a better president than this," Clinton added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used her time to take aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for obstructing legislation that her chamber has passed.
"We have sent the Senate bills for lower health-care costs, for bigger paychecks, for cleaner government, protecting John Lewis' voting rights and enacting George Floyd Justice in Policing Act," she said. "We've sent the Senate bills to protect our dreamers, LGBTQ equality, to prevent gun violence, and to preserve our planet for future generations, and even more. All of this is possible for America. Who is standing in the way? Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump."
She also blamed the Senate majority leader and the president for blocking more coronavirus relief. The House in May passed a $3 trillion bill, while Senate Republicans have proposed a $1 trillion law. Talks between the two sides have broken down as millions face economic peril as the illness continues to spread.
"Our nation faces the worst health and economic catastrophe in our history. More than 5 million Americans are infected by the coronavirus. Over 170,000 have died," Pelosi said. "The science based action in the Heroes Act we enacted three months ago is essential to safeguard lives, livelihood and the life of our democracy. And who is standing in the way? Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren slammed the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and urged voters to turn out for Joe Biden and his plan to "build back better."
"I love a good plan, and Joe Biden has some really good plans — plans to bring back union jobs in manufacturing and create new union jobs in clean energy. Plans to increase Social Security benefits, cancel billions in student loan debt, and make our bankruptcy laws work for families instead of the creditors who cheat them," Warren said.
Warren called Trump's "ignorance and incompetence" a danger to the United States. "Covid-19 was Trump's biggest test. He failed miserably. Today, America has the most Covid deaths in the world and an economic collapse — and both crises are falling hardest on Black and Brown families," she said.
"Millions out of work. Millions more trapped in cycles of poverty. Millions on the brink of losing their homes. Millions of restaurants and stores hanging by a thread. This crisis is bad — and didn't have to be this way. This crisis is on Donald Trump and the Republicans who enable him. On November 3, we hold them all accountable," she added.
Obama unloaded on his successor, painting him as incompetent, selfish and full of himself.
"He's shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves," Obama said.
The former president, who spoke live from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, also made the case for why voters should pick Biden this fall — even though "most of you have already made up your mind."
Harris and Biden, Obama said, "understand that in this democracy, the commander-in-chief doesn't use the men and women of our military, who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation, as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil."
Obama added: "This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that's what it takes to win."
Trump tweeted during Obama's address, accusing him of taking a long time to endorse Biden.
Harris, the first Black woman and Asian American on a major presidential ticket, formally accepted the nomination to become vice president.
Harris, who spoke from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, began her acceptance speech describing her parents and her upbringing.
"She came here from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer," Harris said of her mother. "At the University of California, Berkeley, she met my father, Donald Harris — who had come from Jamaica to study economics. They fell in love in that most American way — while marching together for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s," she added.
"My mother taught me that service to others gives life purpose and meaning. And oh, how I wish she were here tonight but I know she's looking down on me from above. I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman — all of 5 feet tall — who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California. On that day, she probably could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now speaking these words: I accept your nomination for vice president of the United States of America," Harris said.
Harris, who outlined only a handful of policy proposals in her speech, did address the racial justice movements sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. She cited her work in criminal justice and law enforcement as a prosecutor and U.S. senator.
"There is no vaccine for racism," she said. "We have got to do the work."