We have heard from the heroes of the Democratic Party’s past. We have heard from several leaders who may represent its future, including Senator Kamala Harris, the vice-presidential nominee. On the final night of the convention, the spotlight will finally turn to the man who is the party’s present, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Even with the awkward limitations of a virtual convention, the programming of the last three nights has built steadily and more or less smoothly toward the unveiling of Mr. Biden as a president-in-waiting. It now falls to Mr. Biden to fill the political silhouette his party has gradually sketched — one that frames him as a steady hand for difficult times, capable of bringing concrete relief to people suffering through a crisis.
In the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden has seldom been the most eloquent advocate for his own cause. In the most important moments of his campaign, he has leaned heavily on other, more magnetic and fluid speakers: James E. Clyburn in the days before the South Carolina primary, and Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg before the Super Tuesday contests in March. He will have help again tonight, from allies who will address the audience before him, including Mr. Buttigieg, Andrew Yang and Senator Tammy Duckworth.
But if ever there were a moment for Mr. Biden to stand on his own, this is it. President Trump seems to have done his best this week to tee up a major political opportunity for his challenger, making admiring comments about believers in the conspiracy theory QAnon and calling for Americans to shun Goodyear, the Ohio tire company, because of its restrictions on political attire in the workplace. Mr. Biden’s critique of the president appears as salient as ever — he just has to deliver it.
Over his near half-century in public life, Mr. Biden has made good speeches, bad speeches, campaign kickoff speeches and concession speeches, speeches without proper attribution to original sources, speeches so impossibly Biden that no one could ever accuse him of lifting anything.
“No one ever doubts that I mean what I say,” Mr. Biden, 77, is fond of telling audiences. “The problem is, I sometimes say all that I mean.”
For tonight’s speech, he conferred with family, friends, trusted strategists and others he admires, including Jon Meacham, the presidential historian, whose recent book “The Soul of America” has been echoed by Mr. Biden throughout his presidential bid.
The fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention will air tonight from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the M.C. There are several ways to watch:
The Times will stream the full convention, with live analysis from our reporters and real-time highlights from the speeches. You can download our iOS or Android app and turn on notifications to be alerted when our live analysis starts.
Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta.
Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general.
Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee. He will be introduced by his son, Hunter, and his daughter, Ashley.
Olivia Pope and Selina Meyer are used to finding themselves on the political stage. Gaby Solis and Rainbow Johnson not so much. Yet this week, all four — or at least, the actresses who have played them — have presided over the Democratic Party’s biggest political event of the year.
Celebrities have long been a fixture of politics, but never quite like this. During the Democratic National Convention, four women weren’t quite the leads, but perhaps the best supporting actresses.
The women — Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross and Julia Louis-Dreyfus — are all known for their activism, emerging as some of the most famous figures in the #Resistance movement to the Trump administration. They’re also familiar American faces, having all starred in long-running television shows.
Each night, the celebrities have guided the television audience through the program, introducing taped segments, montages and speakers from a soundstage in Los Angeles. After moving videos of victims of gun violence or the coronavirus, it has been the women helping television viewers process what they have seen.
“We fight for a more perfect union because we are fighting for the soul of this country and for the fight of our lives,” Ms. Washington said on Wednesday night.
Ms. Louis-Dreyfus is hosting on Thursday night. Of the four actresses, she has the closest relationship with Joseph R. Biden Jr. The two filmed a spoof video for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2014. When Ms. Louis-Dreyfus disclosed that she had breast cancer, in 2017, Mr. Biden tweeted his support. “We Veeps stick together. Jill and I, and all of the Bidens, are with you, Julia,” he wrote, referring to her starring role on HBO’s “Veep.”
Stephen Curry, one of the most popular players in the N.B.A., and his wife, the author and chef Ayesha Curry, will endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night.
The celebrity couple will appear in a pretaped video with their daughters, Riley, 8, and Ryan, 5, one of the highest-profile athlete appearances at a political convention for either party.
The endorsement was first reported by People Magazine.
“We want to ensure that our kids live in a nation that is safe, happy, healthy and fair, and so this election — ” Mrs. Curry says in a clip. Mr. Curry cuts in to say, “We’re voting for Joe Biden.”
Mr. Curry, a two-time Most Valuable Player Award winner, has kept in close touch with former President Barack Obama, under whom Mr. Biden served, since Mr. Obama left the White House in 2017. Mr. Obama and Mr. Curry appeared together last year at an event in Oakland, Calif., celebrating My Brother’s Keeper, the former president’s initiative aimed at closing the education gap for young Black men.
The endorsement is not necessarily a surprise, given that Mr. Curry has been a frequent critic of President Trump since he took office. Early on in Mr. Trump’s presidency, Mr. Curry publicly rebuked the chief executive of Under Armour, Kevin Plank, after Mr. Plank said the president was a “a real asset” to the country. Mr. Curry, who has an endorsement deal with Under Armour, said in an interview with The San Jose Mercury News, “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et.’”
In fact, one of Mr. Trump’s early feuds in his presidency was with Mr. Curry, who had expressed reluctance about visiting the White House after the Golden State Warriors won the N.B.A. championship in 2017. In response, Mr. Trump rescinded the invitation.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that September. “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” LeBron James, another N.B.A. star who has endorsed Mr. Biden, chimed in on Twitter: “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
A day after former President Barack Obama portrayed him as an existential threat to American democracy, President Trump returned the favor, accusing Joseph R. Biden Jr., who will accept the Democratic nomination on Thursday night, of trying to “destroy the American way of life.”
“At stake in this election is the survival of our nation, it’s true,” Mr. Trump told a small crowd in Old Forge, Pa., a town not far from where Mr. Biden was born. “Because we’re dealing with crazy people on the other side. They’ve gone stone cold crazy.”
Mr. Trump’s political strength is grounded in his capacity to diminish, caricature and ultimately isolate opponents. But Democrats — unified by the common purpose of defeating him, and forced by the pandemic to streamline a typically fractious convention — have been uncharacteristically disciplined this week, focusing their messaging fire on his competence, honesty and fitness.
Other frustrations are weighing on a president who wants to land a punch, badly and soon.
Earlier in the day, Stephen K. Bannon, his former adviser and an architect of his 2016 general election campaign, was arrested on fraud charges, becoming the latest member of his inner circle to run afoul of the law.
Not long after, Mr. Trump issued a series of broadsides trying to portray Democrats as soft on crime. “If you want mobs and criminals, you’ve got to vote Democrat,” he said.
As the president prepares for his own convention next week, he has revealed the core of the coming campaign: a highly personal assault on Mr. Biden and Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic nominee for vice president.
“These people have gone insane, and they are radical left,” Mr. Trump said, calling Mr. Biden “a puppet of the radical left movement that seeks to destroy the American way of life.”
In Mr. Trump’s over-the-top, often blatantly misleading telling, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will destroy the country by moving to take guns away from Americans, fund late-term abortions, encourage “deadly sanctuary cities” and “abolish suburbs” by allowing low-income housing.
Seeking to undermine Mr. Biden’s appeal in rural, blue-collar parts of Pennsylvania, the president lashed out at Mr. Biden, saying that the Democratic nominee “abandoned” his hometown, Scranton, when his family moved when he was a young boy.
He said that Mr. Biden had been at the forefront of a “globalist attack on Pennsylvania voters,” citing the former vice president’s support of trade deals with Mexico, China, South Korea and “the horrible, ridiculous Paris climate accords.”
“As far as I’m concerned, Joe Biden is no friend of Pennsylvania,” Mr. Trump asserted.
President Trump, speaking in Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon, made a litany of accusations against the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California.
Mr. Trump said that Ms. Harris, during her time as San Francisco’s district attorney, “put a drug-dealing illegal alien into a jobs program instead of into prison. Four months later, the illegal alien robbed a 29-year old woman, mowed her down with an SUV, fracturing her skull and ruining her life.”
The attack was an echo of the Willie Horton episode during the 1988 presidential race between former President George Bush and Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts. In that race, Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign and its allies repeatedly invoked Mr. Horton, a Black prisoner in Massachusetts who, while released on a furlough program, raped a white woman, to suggest Mr. Dukakis was soft on crime. Mr. Dukakis did not start the furlough program, but supported it.
Mr. Trump was referring to the case of Alex Izaguirre, an undocumented immigrant convicted of selling cocaine in 2008. He was a participant in Back on Track, an initiative spearheaded by Ms. Harris that placed young first-time drug offenders who pleaded guilty to their crimes into a jobs program rather than jail.
In July 2008, Mr. Izaguirre snatched a woman’s purse and jumped into a car. When the woman jumped onto the hood, the driver slammed on his brakes, and the woman was thrown to the sidewalk, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2009.
After she learned of the case, Ms. Harris said that Mr. Izaguirre’s inclusion in the program had been a mistake, one that she had since fixed by requiring would-be participants to provide “everything from Social Security cards to whatever it is that they can produce” to show that they were in the United States legally.
In his remarks, Mr. Trump also ascribed to Mr. Biden many positions that he does not actually hold, or mischaracterized his proposals:
He misleadingly claimed that Mr. Biden had “pledged to hike your taxes by $4 trillion dollars.” Three-quarters of the proposed increases would be levied on the wealthiest 1 percent.
He falsely said Mr. Biden would “take away your guns.” Mr. Biden’s proposed gun control measures include a buyback program that allows those who own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines to either sell or register them.
He misleadingly claimed Mr. Biden would “close down charter schools.” Mr. Biden has said he would end voucher programs for private, for-profit charter schools but that he supports high-performing public charter schools.
He misleadingly claimed that under Mr. Biden, “600,000 would lose their jobs” in Pennsylvania. That is an estimate of the jobs impact of a nationwide ban on fracking from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but Mr. Biden has not said he supports such a ban.
He falsely claimed that Mr. Biden supports “a complete suspension of deportations, closing down detention facilities, ending border prosecutions” Allies of Mr. Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont recommended suspending deportations for 100 days but not indefinitely, closing down for-profit detention centers but not all facilities, and ending Trump-era border policies but not all prosecutions.
He misleadingly claimed that he distributed surplus military equipment to the police whereas Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama “didn’t want to do that.” The Obama-Biden administration limited the types of equipment distributed, but still transferred some equipment to police.
New York State will allow most voters to cast their ballots by mail in the November general election, joining a growing list of states that have expanded mail-in voting to address the potential spread of the coronavirus at polling places.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, signed a bill on Thursday allowing voters to request an absentee ballot if they cannot show up at a polling location because of the risk of contracting or spreading an illness, effectively permitting the state’s more than 12 million registered voters to vote by mail.
Mail-in voting has expanded during the pandemic over the objections of President Trump, who has repeatedly made false claims that the practice leads to widespread fraud. At the same time, recent cutbacks at the Postal Service have slowed delivery and drawn heated condemnation and a bevy of lawsuits, and led to questions about its capacity to handle a crush of mail-in ballots.
While all voters will receive absentee ballots in at least nine states, including New Jersey and California, New York’s system will be different: Voters will have to request mail-in ballots, either online, by phone, in person or by mail. The ballots can be requested immediately and will be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day.
“The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with Covid-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign sued New Jersey over that state’s decision to conduct the November election almost entirely by mail.
Mr. Trump has also cited difficulties with mail-in ballots in several primaries in New York City. Though there has been no evidence that the primary results were marred by criminal malfeasance, the mishandling of tens of thousands of ballots delayed results in key races.
Despite railing against mail-in voting, Mr. Trump and the first lady both requested mail-in ballots this month from Florida. The president has suggested Florida’s mail voting system is sound because it had “a great Republican governor” in Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally.
A federal judge on Thursday rejected President Trump’s latest effort to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax returns, dismissing Mr. Trump’s arguments that the prosecutor’s grand jury subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and issued in bad faith.
The ruling, by Judge Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan, is the latest turn in a yearlong fight over the subpoena, which has already reached the Supreme Court once and could end up there again if, as expected, Mr. Trump appeals.
The district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, has been seeking eight years of Mr. Trump’s personal and business returns and other financial records as part of an investigation into the president’s business practices.
The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision in July, rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that a sitting president was immune from criminal investigation. But the ruling allowed the president to return to the lower court and raise other objections to the subpoena.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump called the decision “a continuation of the witch hunt, the greatest witch hunt in history.”
“We’ll probably end up back in the Supreme Court,” he added.
It has been known that Mr. Vance was investigating whether New York State laws were broken when hush-money payments were made in the run-up to the 2016 election to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
Earlier this month, Mr. Vance’s office suggested it was investigating the president and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a significantly broader inquiry than prosecutors had acknowledged in the past.
The N.A.A.C.P. is the latest group to file a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the U.S. Postal Service, alleging that recent slowdowns in mail delivery could have grave consequences for Americans’ right to vote.
As with the recent lawsuit filed by a coalition of state attorneys general, the N.A.A.C.P. suit asks the court to reverse measures put in place by Mr. DeJoy that have caused delays in the delivery of medications, paychecks, benefits, and ballots.
While Mr. DeJoy said on Tuesday he would suspend cost-cutting moves until after the election, the N.A.A.C.P. contends that his announcement only seems to suspend some of the service cuts he has put into place.
The recent changes are expected to be discussed at a hearing this afternoon before the Congressional Progressive Caucus where David Williams, a former postal governor who resigned in April, will testify.
Lawmakers plan to question Mr. DeJoy at a Senate committee hearing on Friday and at a House oversight hearing on Monday. House lawmakers are also expected to vote Saturday on legislation that would reverse the changes put into place by Mr. DeJoy and provide $25 billion for the beleaguered agency.
The N.A.A.C.P.’s complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., states that mail-in ballots will be necessary in November to ensure that people can vote without risking the spread of the coronavirus and notes that infection and death rates for the virus are disproportionately high among Black Americans.
It claims that the Postal Service failed to take the required steps before implementing operational changes, including submitting them to the Postal Regulatory Commission, an oversight body.
“As the country faces an uphill battle against Covid-19 and systemic racism, we’re witnessing a significant onslaught against our postal system at a time when prompt mail delivery matters more than ever, especially for voters of color,” Derrick Johnson, president of the N.A.A.C.P., said in a statement.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts in the heated Democratic primary for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats, bolstering the 39-year-old Mr. Kennedy in his challenge to the incumbent, Senator Edward J. Markey.
“Never before have the times demanded we elect courageous leaders as today, and that is why I am proud to endorse Joe Kennedy for Senate,” the speaker said in a video announcing her endorsement, which was reported by The Boston Globe.
She praised Mr. Kennedy, a grandnephew of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, for helping flip the House of Representatives in 2018, adding that he “knows that to achieve progressive change, you must be on the front lines, leading movements of people.”
Ms. Pelosi’s decision to endorse in the Sept. 1 primary is unusual: She is usually a significant defender of incumbents in the House, where she served with Mr. Markey for more than a quarter century.
In a statement, Mr. Markey congratulated Mr. Kennedy on receiving Ms. Pelosi’s support.
“I had the privilege to work alongside Nancy in the House for decades and any candidate would be proud to have her endorsement,” Mr. Markey said.
Some groups that have tried to challenge Democratic incumbents in the House, only to run into pushback from House leadership, questioned Ms. Pelosi’s decision to back a challenger.
“This move reeks of hypocrisy,” said Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats, a grass-roots organization that has helped insurgents like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York defeat incumbents. “The party is setting one standard for progressives and one entirely different standard for the establishment.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who ousted Joseph Crowley, a member of Democratic leadership, in 2018, declared on Twitter, “no one gets to complain about primary challenges again.”
Asked about the endorsement on Thursday, Ms. Pelosi said that she had been close to the Kennedy family for decades, ever since her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., who was mayor of Baltimore, was chairman of J.F.K.’s presidential campaign in Maryland.
“I wasn’t too happy with some of the assault that I saw made on the Kennedy family, and I thought Joe didn’t ask me to endorse him, but I felt an imperative,” she said in an interview broadcast on CSPAN with Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post.
Ms. Pelosi also said she appreciated Mr. Kennedy’s “all-out effort” to help elect Democratic House candidates in 2018, when the party captured control of the House. “I feel at peace with the decision to support the courage and the support that for my whole life the Kennedys have given me, in terms of the values that have inspired me,” she said.
MSNBC has dominated ratings for this year’s Democratic National Convention, and its streak continued on Wednesday as it attracted 6.3 million viewers for a starry night that featured speeches by Senator Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama.
The evening marked the biggest live TV audience yet for the convention, with about 22.8 million Americans watching over all from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., according to Nielsen.
MSNBC, which has carried the broadcast mostly unfiltered — with no interruptions for real-time analysis or commentary — said it recorded its highest-rated hour of convention coverage since the network began in 1996.
Television viewership Wednesday was down only slightly from the 24.4 million who watched the equivalent night in 2016. Earlier in the week viewership for the virtual convention had fallen by roughly a quarter. CNN had the biggest audience among younger viewers between ages 25 to 54.
The Nielsen ratings measure live television audiences, and do not reflect online or streaming views, which are difficult to credibly measure. Many Americans prefer to watch the convention and other live events online, but traditional TV networks still appeal to older voters that Democrats want to persuade.
Late last month, as the Texas Republican Party was shifting into campaign mode, it unveiled a new slogan, lifting a rallying cry straight from a once-unthinkable source: the internet-driven conspiracy theory known as QAnon.
The new catchphrase, “We Are the Storm,” is an unsubtle cue to a group that the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorist threat. It is instantly recognizable among QAnon adherents, signaling what they claim is a coming conflagration between President Trump and what they allege, falsely, is a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile Democrats.
The slogan can be found all over social media posts by QAnon followers, and now, too, in emails from the Texas Republican Party and on the T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts that it sells. It has even worked its way into the party’s text message system — a recent email from the party urged readers to “Text STORM2020” for updates.
The Texas Republicans are an unusually visible example of the Republican Party’s dalliance with QAnon, but they are hardly unique. A small but growing number of Republicans are donning the QAnon mantle, potentially transforming the wild conspiracy theory into an offline political movement.
Chief among the party’s QAnon promoters is President Trump himself. During a White House news conference on Wednesday, described QAnon followers — some of whom have been charged with murder, domestic terrorism and planned kidnapping — as “people that love our country.”
The president has retweeted QAnon followers at least 201 times, according to an analysis by Media Matters. Some of his children have posted social media messages related to the conspiracy theory. A deputy White House chief of staff, Dan Scavino has three times in the past year — in November 2019, May and June — posted ticking-clock memes that are used by QAnon believers to signify the coming showdown between the president and his purported enemies.
“We once had Republican leaders that would work to keep extremists from the levers of power. Now they embrace them and their crazy and dangerous ideas,” said Rudy Oeftering, a Texas Republican who formerly chaired the Texas Association of Business and remains one of the state party’s precinct captains.
“The lunatics,” he added, “are truly running the asylum.”