Weekly Presidential News Briefing: August 17th – 21st, 2020

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

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Notable Quotes of the Day

“This was not the Michelle Obama of hope and change that defined her husband’s rise. Michelle was always the less sentimental half of the Obama team, the one with slightly more pessimistic assumptions about many pockets of America. But it was still jarring, 16 years after her husband declared at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston that there were no blue states and no red states, to hear Michelle Obama plainly say ‘that my message won’t be heard by some people’ because ‘we live in a nation that is deeply divided, and I am a Black woman speaking at the Democratic Convention.’ …

Michelle is the hard-headed realist from the South Side of Chicago who suggested in her memoir that Trump’s election confirmed some ugly truths she had always harbored about the United States. In many ways, the Democrats are still the party of Barack, but they are living in Michelle’s world.”

– Ryan LizzaPolitico chief Washington correspondent
“The Iowa caucus is 840 days away. Candidates that don’t use these opportunities to prepare are making a profound mistake. Any opportunity to build your brand, build your list and flex your political muscle should be taken advantage of.

In 2024, people are going to ask what you did in 2020 to get the president reelected, save the Senate and win the House. Where were you when it mattered?”

– Jeff Roe, Republican strategist
“Surveys among Democratic voters and activists repeatedly showed that, even when they didn’t see Biden as their top candidate, they saw him as the most electable, and overall, they prioritized electability to a far greater degree than they had in recent elections.

Biden was also, in some ways, a relatively easy choice for party insiders — he was broadly popular among the party’s voters, performed well in general election matchup polls, was closely tied to the Obama administration as its former VP, and was one of the only candidates who received widespread support from Black voters. But, at the end of the day, Biden also represented a safe choice for a party that had tried something new in 2016 and, in the eyes of many, had been punished for it.”

– Seth Masket, director of the Center on American Politics and the University of Denver

Week in Review

Biden receives Democratic presidential nomination at national convention

The Demoocratic National Convention concluded Thursday night with an address from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. He discussed the economy, race relations, and the coronavirus pandemic. “May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation. And this is a battle that we, together, will win,” Biden said.

Kamala Harris became the first Black and Asian American woman to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday night. In her acceptance speech, she discussed her upbringing and exposure to the civil rights movement.

Other featured speakers throughout the week included Sen. Bernie Sanders, former First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Second Lady Jill Biden. former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Barack Obama. The virtual keynote address featured 17 young party leaders.

Trump hits campaign trail during Democratic National Convention

Donald Trump rallied his own supporters during the Democratic National Convention in four states: Arizona, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

In Yuma, Arizona, Trump accepted the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council on Tuesday. He also held a campaign event in Scranton, Pennsylvania—Joe Biden’s birthplace—on Thursday afternoon. The speech’s theme was “a half-century of Joe Biden failing America,” according to the campaign.

During the final night of the Democratic convention, Trump also appeared on Fox News’ Hannity where he discussed the coronavirus pandemic and using law enforcement as poll watchers.

Trump counters Democratic convention with digital ad campaign, Biden releases first Kamala ad

Donald Trump launched a large digital ad campaign on YouTube and other digital platforms, like Hulu, during the Democratic National Convention. The spending, which was expected to reach $10 million, included an ad on the main banner of YouTube for four days beginning on Tuesday and ad space on The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post, and FoxNews.com.

One of the digital ads questioned Joe Biden’s mental acuity by comparing clips of his speeches from 2015 and 2016 to 2020. The ad ends with the phrase, “What happened to Joe Biden?” The Trump campaign also released a two-minute digital ad focused on Hunter Biden’s business associations with China.

Joe Biden released his first campaign ad featuring Kamala Harris as his running mate on Saturday. The clip, which targets Latino voters in Arizona and Florida, is also the campaign’s first bilingual ad, using a mixture of English and Spanish in the narration.

Republican National Convention begins on August 24

The 2020 Republican National Convention begins on Monday, August 24, in Charlotte, North Carolina, where 336 delegates—six from each state and territory rather than full delegations—will assemble for the roll call. Each night of the convention has a different theme: Land of Heroes, Land of Promise, Land of Opportunity, and Land of Greatness.

Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, First Lady Melania Trump, Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa), former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) are expected to speak throughout the week. Trump will accept the Republican nomination from the White House grounds.

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What we read this week

Flashback: August 17th – 21st, 2016

  • August 17, 2016: Donald Trump received his first classified national security briefing.
  • August 18, 2016: The Clinton Foundation announced that it would no longer accept foreign and corporate donations if Hillary Clinton were elected president.
  • August 19, 2016: Paul Manafort resigned as the chairman of the Trump campaign.
  • August 20, 2016: Donald Trump discussed immigration policies with his newly formed Hispanic advisory council.
  • August 21, 2016: Green Party nominee Jill Stein wrote an open letter to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump calling on them to support a presidential debate that includes third party candidates.