ON WEDNESDAY, we made the argument that the Democratic convention was being conducted in abstraction, the speakers attempting to will their political wishes to reality.
BUT, IN THE LAST 24 HOURS, President DONALD TRUMP has given real-time illustration to many of the dynamics Democrats are trying to bring to the light for the American public.
BILL CLINTON said Tuesday night that “if you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man.” And on Wednesday night, TRUMP tweeted about a conversation on Fox News, and then spent the 10 and 11 p.m. hour live-tweeting BARACK OBAMA’S and KAMALA HARRIS’ speeches in all caps.
10:33 P.M.: “HE SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, AND GOT CAUGHT” … 10:40 p.m.: “WHY DID HE REFUSE TO ENDORSE SLOW JOE UNTIL IT WAS ALL OVER, AND EVEN THEN WAS VERY LATE? WHY DID HE TRY TO GET HIM NOT TO RUN?” … 11:17 p.m.: “BUT DIDN’T SHE CALL HIM A RACIST??? DIDN’T SHE SAY HE WAS INCOMPETENT???”
AND HOURS BEFORE OBAMA said, “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” the president said he appreciated the support of the people involved with the loony and dangerous QAnon conspiracy — a theory that there is a group of pedophiles who worship Satan that control the world. This is the same group that believes Comet Ping Pong on Connecticut Avenue is a sex-trafficking venue, not a beer and pizza shop in a well-off neighborhood. The FBI has said that it is a domestic terrorism threat.
“WELL, I DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE MOVEMENT OTHER than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” TRUMP said from the White House podium.
TODAY, THE PRESIDENT will travel to Pennsylvania ahead of JOE BIDEN’S speech. More from AP’s Jonathan Lemire on Trump trolling Biden
HARRIS made history Wednesday night as she became the first woman of color to be on a major party’s ticket. Her speech was less a repudiation of Trump and more an introduction of her personal story. The most memorable line: “There is no vaccine for racism.” Transcript
HOW IT PLAYED … LAT’S LORRAINE ALI: “The tone of Wednesday’s event made it clear that much had changed since the last DNC, when the top female candidate took great pains to soften her tough-as-nails reputation and to make herself more palatable to an American public that was wary of her ambitious nature, her feminist education, her former life as a lawyer, her political life and, yes, even her pantsuits. …
“Poised to become our first female VP, Black VP and South Asian VP, Harris has inspired optimism, not fear, among Democrats, and that’s a feat in itself for a formidable female candidate in contentious times.
“Wednesday felt like proof that Harris had smashed yet another glass ceiling: she was being celebrated rather than shamed for breaking tradition. When Pelosi, Clinton and Warren, all of whom helped pave the way for Harris, spoke in support of her, they made a point to highlight the warrior side of Harris — and the challenges of being a woman, especially in Trump’s America.” LAT
— HARRIS’ HOMETOWN PAPER … SF CHRONICLE: “Kamala Harris talks of uniting under Biden, learning from a strong family and surviving Trump”
ON OBAMA … RYAN LIZZA: “[T]he former president delivered a memorable speech that balanced torching the sitting president with assuring voters of the possibility of something better. All the while, he pulled back the historical view to 30,000 feet where it was possible to show voters the sweep of American history and remind them that the country, despite what he called ‘these dark times,’ has faced bigger challenges than Trump. …
“Obama accused Trump of failing to ‘discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.’ He essentially accused him of corruption and abuse of power, saying Trump had ‘no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends.’ And he accused his successor of a dangerous form of narcissism when he said that Trump had ‘no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.’”
BTW … A JET left Martha’s Vineyard — where OBAMA has a home — at 8:16 p.m. for Philadelphia, where he gave his speech. At 11:21 p.m., that same plane left Philadelphia for DCA, where it arrived at 11:47 p.m.
OTHER STANDOUT OF THE NIGHT: former Rep. GABBY GIFFORDS (D-Ariz.). Giffords gave a moving speech, the longest since she was wounded in a mass shooting in 2011. “Words once came easily, today I struggle to speak. 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,” she said. More from CNN
Top takeaways via Steven Shepard … Video roundup
Good Thursday morning. 75 DAYS until Election Day.
FRONTS: NYT, with this ADAM NAGOURNEY and KATIE GLUECK news analysis: “Kamala Harris Takes the Spotlight, a Moment for Her and History” … N.Y. POST: “Chaos grips Portland: Will Dems denounce violence? Pages 4-5”
JOIN US today at 9 A.M. as we talk with SYMONE SANDERS about the convention, what Biden needs to do tonight and their plans post-convention in the latest “PLUG IN WITH PLAYBOOK.” Register to watch
JOHN HARRIS puts a frame around tonight’s BIDEN speech: “Joe Biden: An old man trying to lead a young country”: “Joseph R. Biden Jr., at the age of 77 years, nine months, and 10 days has been alive for just a shade under one-third of the entire history of the United States as an independent nation.
“One way to think about that is: Biden really is quite old. Another way to think about that is: The United States really is quite young. On Aug. 20, the day Biden will accept the Democratic nomination in his bid to become the oldest occupant of the White House — he would be 78 days older on his first day in office than Ronald Reagan was on his last—it is worth holding the subject up to the light from both angles.
“How old is Biden? Well, he is older than 94 percent of all living Americans, and older than 96 percent of all people alive on the planet, according to demographic data compiled by the United Nations. He is already older than 27 presidents were when they died — including 14 years older than Franklin D. Roosevelt and 13 years older than Lyndon B. Johnson.
“When Biden arrived in the U.S. Senate at age 30 on Jan. 3, 1973, he joined six senators who were born in the late 1800s. Of those 100 people — all of them men, and only one not white — he is one of just 13 who are still alive today.
“If he wins in November, he will be the only person to be president representing that historical seam between the “Greatest Generation” that fought World War II and the Baby Boom generation that has dominated national politics since the early 1990s. Biden’s comparatively advanced age, however, is a useful lens for viewing the comparative youth of the country he hopes to lead. The life of a single person can bridge historical eras that seem more distant than they really are.”
— DOUBTS ABOUT MIKE BLOOMBERG, via NYT’S REBECCA RUIZ
AP/MOSCOW: “Russia’s Navalny in coma in ICU after alleged poisoning”: “Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is in a coma and on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit in Siberia after falling ill from suspected poisoning during a flight, his spokeswoman said Thursday morning.
“The 44-year-old foe of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin felt unwell on a flight back to Moscow from Tomsk, a city in Siberia, and was taken to a hospital after the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter. ‘He is in a coma in grave condition,’ she said on Twitter.”
NEW … THE CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND — the House GOP-aligned super PAC — is putting up $2.5 MILLION against Democrats this month. The total list of spending is here, and here’s the ad going up today against Rep. KENDRA HORN (D-Okla.) — it’s a good example of how Republicans are going to go after TRUMP-district Democrats this year.
— THE AD tries to cut away at the bipartisan brand HORN has attempted to cultivate by tying her to NANCY PELOSI and the “socialist Squad” — it features photos of the speaker and Reps. ILHAN OMAR (D-Minn.) and ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-N.Y.), and says HORN “wasted critical months on impeachment while the pandemic was looming.” It ends by saying HORN is “not as advertised.” The 30-second spot
NYT’S JONATHAN MARTIN and CARL HULSE: “Democrats Have Their Doubts About Biden’s Bipartisan Bonhomie”
MONEY WARS — “Harris sets off Democratic donor stampede,” by Elena Schneider: “Kamala Harris is tapping into a new tranche of campaign cash for Joe Biden: money from both big and small donors who were reluctant to give to the white, male and over-70 nominee-in-waiting before she arrived.
“Biden has turned things around since struggling to raise money in 2019, but Harris’ addition is exciting contributors anew. She has a deep familiarity with Democratic mega-donors from Silicon Valley to New York, and her history-making candidacy is now drawing interest from more casual givers as well as big donors who got a shot of excitement from Harris’ elevation.” POLITICO
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — ARTISTS UNITED FOR CHANGE is launching a $500,000 street art and billboard campaign focused on the unregistered and the undecided youth vote in Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Phoenix. The “Remember What They Did” campaign will include putting works by artists like SHEPARD FAIREY, who designed the Obama “HOPE” image, on billboards as well as a poster street art campaign led by local partners. Example of Fairey’s poster
BOSTON GLOBE: “Are Joe Kennedy’s efforts to define Ed Markey coming too late?” by Vicky McGrane: “Since the moment he announced his challenge to Senator Edward J. Markey in the Democratic primary, Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III has faced questions about why he is running and, subsequently, skepticism that he’s offered voters an effective enough rationale for seeking to unseat a longtime, party loyal incumbent.
“In recent weeks, Kennedy has sharpened his efforts to define Markey as out-of-touch with the struggles of many of his constituents. He’s painted his opponent as doing the bare minimum for those seeking his help rather than using his powerful office to its full potential.
“The question now is whether Kennedy’s waited too long to start drawing this unflattering portrait of Markey. ‘The time to attack Markey was when this race started and Markey had low name recognition,’ said Brian Jencunas, a Massachusetts-based political strategist who has worked for candidates from both parties. Kennedy’s attacks are less effective now, after Markey ‘has been able to define himself as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s cool grandpa who wears fresh sneakers and co-sponsors the Green New Deal.’”
TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president will participate in the arrival of Iraqi PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi at 11 a.m. in the West Wing lobby. The two will participate in a restricted bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at 11:05 a.m., followed by an expanded bilateral meeting at 11:25 a.m. in the Cabinet room. Trump will leave the White House at 1:05 p.m. en route to Avoca, Pa. He will arrive at Mariotti Building Products in Old Forge, Pa., at 2:45 p.m. and deliver remarks at 3 p.m. Afterward, he will return to Washington, arriving at the White House at 6 p.m.
NAHAL TOOSI: “Pompeo’s housing request set off legal alarm bells, memo shows”: “In his early months on the job, Mike Pompeo sought an unusual perk for a secretary of State: permission to rent a Washington, D.C.-area house that was controlled by the U.S. military. Pompeo and his aides initially tried to arrange for the chief U.S. diplomat and his family to live close to the State Department in the Potomac Hill campus, where the Navy maintained some homes.
“But ultimately the Pompeos moved into U.S. Army housing at the Fort Myer base in Virginia, according to people familiar with the issue. Along the way, the request set off legal and logistical alarms, raising questions about whether Pompeo is eligible for any sort of military housing.”
WHAT JARED’S BEEN UP TO … NYT: “Trump Administration Pushes Arms Sale to U.A.E. Despite Israeli Worries,” by Mark Mazzetti and Edward Wong: “The Trump administration has accelerated a push to sell the F-35 stealth fighter and advanced armed drones to the United Arab Emirates, at a time when the Gulf nation is working with the Trump administration on a historic plan to formalize diplomatic ties with Israel, according to American officials familiar with the discussions.
“Administration officials in recent weeks gave a classified briefing about the F-35 to the Emirati military — despite some concerns among National Security Council staff about the wisdom of disclosing details on one of the Pentagon’s most advanced weapons to a foreign government before a decision about a potential arms sale has been completed. …
“The Emirati arms deal has been pushed by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who has been central to the diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Emirates. Mr. Kushner’s efforts over three years to forge a peace agreement between the Israeli government and Palestinians have gone nowhere, and Palestinians have been angered by the Trump administration’s pro-Israel policies. Mr. Kushner has hoped to get the Gulf Arab leaders, including the Emirati crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, to push the Palestinians to support his proposals.”
BUSINESS BURST — “Airbnb Files Confidentially for IPO With SEC,” by WSJ’s Preetika Rana: “Airbnb Inc. said Wednesday it confidentially filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, marking a surprising turnaround for a company whose business was initially ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. …
“Airbnb said late last year that it planned to go public, but its plans were thrown into disarray as the health crisis shut down global travel. It initially had planned to make its widely anticipated debut on the public markets this year via a direct listing, which wouldn’t involve raising any additional money, but now plans to raise cash through a traditional IPO.” WSJ
IN MEMORIAM — “Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, a towering figure in Washington state, dies at 92,” by The Seattle Times’ Lynda Mapes: “Gorton served a decade in the Legislature, three terms as state attorney general, and was deemed ‘giant killer’ for his win over the legendary Warren Magnuson to capture his first term in the U.S. Senate. His comeback to serve two more terms after losing to challenger Brock Adams was just as remarkable, and his loss to Democratic challenger Maria Cantwell in 2000 was the closest Senate race in Washington history.
“In the Senate, Gorton built a reputation as a unique combination of brains and analytical skill that enabled him to dislodge colleagues from stuck positions. … Through it all, he earned a reputation as an independent thinker and actor.” Seattle Times
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TRANSITION — Retired Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove is joining the Middle East Institute as distinguished chair of its Frontier Europe Initiative. He previously was NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Tarrah Cooper Wright, CEO and partner at Rise Strategy Group. A fun fact about her: “I grew up playing water polo. Nothing has prepared me more for a career in communications and politics than crisscrossing a pool, swimming for hours to score a goal while your opponent is trying to pull you underwater. You have to have grit, grace, great lung capacity and the resilience to just keep clawing your way through.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Larry Kudlow is 73 … Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is 58 … Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) is 59 … Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) is 54 … Oliver Darcy, CNN senior media reporter, is 3-0 … CBS’ Fin Gomez … Eleni Roumel … former USTR Michael Froman, now vice chair and president of strategic growth at Mastercard, is 58 … Ben LaBolt … OSCE’s Christie Edwards (h/ts Ben Chang) … Gina Keeney … Rachel Thomas, Northeast comms director for the Biden campaign … POLITICO’s Doug Palmer, Natalie Fertig and Julia Kurzius … Al Roker is 66 … former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell is 87 … former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is 85 … former Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) is 8-0 … Brianna McCullough … Targeted Victory CEO Zac Moffatt is 41 … Connie Chung … Michael Donaher of Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s (D-N.J.) reelect … Matt Shapanka is 33 … Tammy Bruce, host of Fox Nation’s “Get Tammy Bruce” … Danielle Decker … Jenny Backus … Lona Valmoro … Bob Hudek (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) …
… Katie Peters, senior comms director for the Democratic convention … Steve Pfrang … Pat Collier IV, deputy COS for federal affairs for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker … Jeffrey Norfolk … Targeted Victory’s Ryan Meerstein … Elyse Ping Medvigy … Madeline Shepherd … Jeff Morehouse … Casey Badmington … Ari Goldberg, director of media relations at the Bipartisan Policy Center, is 47 … Brad Fingeroot … Google’s Lauren Epshteyn … Susan Aspey … Scott Rothrock … Lea Berman … Jarrett Ray … Jim Hock, SVP of external affairs at PSP Partners … POLITICO Europe’s Sanya Khetani-Shah … Shannon Travis … Linnea Dyer Hegarty … Hayley Peterson, chief correspondent at Business Insider … Morgan Murtaugh … Jessica Todtman … Madison Gouveia … Michael Montelongo … Meghan Grant Swiber … Gordon Neal … Angelica Alatorre … Nicholas Himebaugh … Jordan Kittleson … Faryar Shirzad … Kendell Mountain … David Ryan Adelman is 39 … Lana Gordon is 7-0 … Jody Serrano … Matthew Gould is 49