President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders delivered a scathing assessment of Donald Trump’s national security and foreign policy qualifications, portraying him as an erratic blowhard who embraces dictators and disparages America’s allies.

The barrage from speakers also including Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director Leon Panetta aimed to cast doubt on the Republican’s nominee’s credentials to serve as commander in chief. It came just hours after Trump invited Russia to find and release Clinton emails — a statement that appeared to encourage Moscow to meddle in U.S. politics and raised further questions about the tycoon’s judgment.

But the speeches also sought to present Hillary Clinton as a steady hand whose background as senator and secretary of State give her the experience needed to keep the country safe and protect its interests abroad.

“Hillary Clinton is respected around the world not just by leaders, but by the people they serve,” Obama said in the final speech on night three of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. “She’s worked closely with our intelligence teams, our diplomats, our military. She has the judgment, the experience and the temperament to meet the threat from terrorism.”

He said Clinton won’t relent until the Islamic State is destroyed, and “she’ll do it without resorting to torture, or banning entire religions from entering our country. She is fit to be the next commander in chief.”

[ McCain Condemns 'Loose Talk' on Campaign Trail ]

Trump has spoken favorably of torture on U.S. enemies, and has proposed a ban on allowing Muslims into the country.

Speaking earlier in the night, Biden provided perhaps the strongest rebuke of Trump and his ability to lead the U.S. in a dangerous world, saying “no major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less or has been less prepared to deal with our national security.”

He accused Trump of exploiting Americans’ fears of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, but he said the Republican has no plan to make the nation safer. He also chided Trump for embracing “the tactics of the our enemies — torture, religious intolerance.”

“That’s not who we are. It betrays our values, it alienates those who we need in the fight against ISIS,” Biden said.

“We cannot elect a man who belittles our closest allies while embracing dictators like Vladimir Putin,” Biden said. “A man who seeks to sow division in America for his own gain, and disorder around the world. A man who confuses bluster with strength. We simply cannot let that happen as Americans.”

Panetta, who was the director of the CIA during the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and later served as secretary of Defense, was no kinder to Trump.

[ Trump Calls for Closed Borders, Waterboarding Following Brussels Attacks ]

He battered the businessman over his comments earlier Wednesday in which Trump seemed to invite Russia to get its hands on Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of State and make them public.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said during a news conference in Florida.

Some of Clinton’s emails during her time as the top U.S. diplomat went missing or were deleted. The correspondence was kept on a private server that Clinton set up — an arrangement that touched off a federal investigation. The FBI and Justice Department ultimately decided not to indict Clinton, but the FBI director did say Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information.

With his remarks Wednesday, Panetta said, Trump “once again took Russia’s side.”

“He asked the Russians to interfere in American politics. Think about that,” he said.

“Donald Trump, who wants to be president of the United States, is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States of America to affect an election,” Panetta said. “It is inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be that irresponsible.”

Trump has generally shrugged off criticism of his foreign policy ideas, saying that he will get better deals with allies and rivals alike and make the country more safe. On Wednesday, his campaign dismissed the Democrats' harsh assessment of his leadership credentials.

Stephen Miller, a senior Trump adviser, offered a bleak view of Clinton's judgment, saying that she rushed to war in Libya, "which further proves her a reckless risk too grave for any American family."

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Donald Trump's invitation to Russian spies to find lost emails routed through Hillary Clinton's notorious private server was "irresponsible" and clearly underscores that "he cannot become our commander in chief," former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta said on Wednesday.

"Think about that, Donald Trump, who wants to be president, is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States of America to affect an election," Panetta told the Democratic National Convention.

"As someone who was responsible for protecting our nation from cyberattacks, it's inconceivable that any presidential candidate would be that irresponsible," he said, adding that it was "no time to roll the dice" on Trump and national security.

Earlier in the day, Trump, an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, asserted in Florida, that he would like the Moscow government to obtain emails said to be missing when Clinton gave the FBI data from the private server installed in the basement of her New York home that she used while secretary of state from 2009-13.

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." FBI Director James E. Comey said earlier this month that by routing classified information through her personal server, Clinton and her aides were careless. He could not rule out the possibility that a hostile power hacked the account.

The email scandal prompted Republican calls to prosecute Clinton, something the Justice Department has declined to do. After that, Comey's disclosure has fed the GOP narrative — embraced by many Americans, according to polls — that Clinton is untrustworthy and that lost emails hold more embarrassments for her.

Earlier, Democratic critics and commentators at several news outlets described Trump's remarks at the Florida news conference as treasonous. Some top Republicans scrambled to downplay them as #treasonousTrump trended on Twitter.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Armed Services Committee ranking member, said Trump's comments were "totally irresponsible."

"Asking a foreign nation to interfere with the private security of the United States is irresponsible and reckless," he said.

He did not describe Trump's remarks as treasonous.

"This is more a reflection of incapacity to work with security issues and to deal with them in a constructive way," Reed said. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), called Trump's remarks "outrageous."

"Donald Trump says Putin is a great leader," Stabenow said. "It’s time for [House Speaker] Paul Ryan to admit that Donald Trump is not fit to be commander in chief.”

The New York Times tweeted that Trump's comments "essentially sanction a foreign power's cyberspying."

"How exactly would we distinguish Trump's latest comments from treason," The Atlantic's James Fallows wrote.

[ Hillary's Honesty and Trump's Temperament ]

"This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue," Clinton senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. Donald Trump’s comments essentially sanction a foreign power's cyberspying — The New York Times (@nytimes) July 27, 2016

I know I keep saying this, but: Trump has just done something *never* seen before in politics. In a bad way by me — James Fallows (@JamesFallows) July 27, 2016

[ Biden on DNC Hack: 'Totally Consistent With Who Putin Is' ]

At the Philadelphia convention, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said he was unsure if Trump's comments fit the description of treason, but he said the remarks were "devastating" for the real estate mogul and "could be lethal to his campaign."

Separately, American intelligence agencies said this week they had "high confidence " that Russia stole emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, the only question was whether the Kremlin had engineered their release last week by Wikileaks in order to influence the election.

The emails revealed criticism by DNC staffers of Bernie Sanders' campaign, bolstering his contention that the national committee, in violation of its policy of neutrality, favored Clinton in the Democratic primaries. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over the scandal.

Newt Gingrich was among prominent conservatives who played down Trump's comments.

"The media seems more upset by Trump's joke about Russian hacking than by the fact that Hillary's personal server was vulnerable to Russia," Gingrich tweeted.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who campaigned against Trump during the Republican presidential primaries, went after both candidates.

@hillaryclinton put our security at risk, but Putin is not our friend; foreign meddling in US elections cannot be tolerated. — John Kasich (@JohnKasich) July 27, 2016

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who reluctantly endorsed Trump in June, tried to distance himself from his comments on Russia.

“Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug," Ryan's chief communications adviser Brendan Buck told The Guardian . "Putin should stay out of this election.”

Bridget Bowman and Alex Gangitano contributed to this report.

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Hillary Clinton has said it herself multiple times: She's a lackluster public speaker.

Yet Thursday night she must find a way to make a soaring case for her presidential nomination, matching — if not outshining — a series of Democratic National Convention speeches that has been hailed as among the best in their genre.

Clinton's oft-noted woodenness from the podium is not least among the obstacles she must overcome for her speech to be a success, political analysts said. Here's the tall order she faces as she prepares to make the most important public appearance of her life:

1. Appear likeable: With more than 50 percent of American voters consistently saying they have an unfavorable view of her in national polls, Clinton is one of the least-liked candidates in American history — outmatched only by Republican opponent Donald Trump. She has been dogged throughout her career with caricatures that paint her as self-serving, dishonest and incapable of connecting with voters on an emotional level.

It is widely recognized that biases against strong female leaders have played a role in such negative impressions. Recasting Clinton has been a major theme of the convention. It's up to her, though, to bring that message home. As Sarah Burns, 66, a Bernie Sanders volunteer from Los Angeles told USA Today : “We need to see her human side. We don’t trust her, and we need to see she’s not a robot.’’

2. Buy-in from the Bernie Bros : Disgruntled supporters of Bernie Sanders have worked hard throughout the convention to make themselves heard, interrupting multiple speeches with boos and chants and walking out en masse during Bill Clinton's Tuesday night opus to his wife. Steve Almond, a commentator at WBUR in New York, wrote Thursday that to bring the party together, Clinton will have to both acknowledge their disappointment and talk convincingly of the lessons she's learned from Sanders' campaign.

3. Present a vision : Clinton will, no doubt, make a nod to her historic position as the first female presidential nominee of a major political party and present her decades of experience as an antidote to Trump, who has never served in public office and has waged a disorganized and unconventional campaign. But many analysts agree that Clinton must go further and present a unified vision for the party and the country. The Washington Post editorial board wrote Wednesday that Clinton must present an optimistic message, in contrast to Trump's picture of lawlessness , a bleak economic outlook and country run by "very, very stupid people. "

She must also somehow take into account the national unease that Trump has been able to capitalize on, CNN's Maeve Reston wrote Thursday .

"That has been the main challenge for Clinton as she has worked on her speech in recent weeks, a careful search to find the right tone — at once uplifting and positive, but also empathetic and reflective of the dark mood of the electorate"

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Social issues and national security will be highlighted during the final day of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday leading up to Hillary Clinton accepting her party's presidential nomination on Thursday. And expect lots of "Stronger Together" signs to be distributed on the floor.

In a nod to the liberal base, advocates from the League of Conservation Voters and Human Rights Campaign will address the convention. But Democrats will work to sway moderates, too, with a message of a strong national security and Republicans who support Clinton.

Retired Marine Corp Gen. John Allen, who endorsed Clinton on Monday, will tell the convention why he backed her. Allen said in making his endorsement on Monday that he had always avoided politics, but "Given the complexities of issues facing our country today and its longtime allies, I felt compelled to speak up and be heard. "I have no doubt that she is the leader we need at this time to keep our country safe, and I trust her with that most sacred responsibility of commander-in-chief."

Jennifer Pierotti Lim, who works at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is co-founder of "Republican Women for Hillary," will make an appeal to moderates.

Henrietta Ivey, a home health care worker who Clinton met during a campaign stop in Michigan, will address the convention first. Ivey is an advocate for the "Fight for $15" movement that wants raise the minimum wage.

Beth Mathias, who works two jobs and met Clinton at a roundtable discussion in Ohio, will talk about how Clinton supports working families like hers.

Then Jensen Walcott and Jake Reed will address equal pay for woman. Walcott was fired from her job at a pizza restaurant after she went to her boss when she found out that her co-worker and friend Reed was making a quarter more an hour. Clinton read about Walcott and Reed's story and encouraged them to keep fighting for equal pay.

Chelsea Clinton will then introduce her mother and testify to her character and her heart.

Here's the full lineup for tonight.

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The baton has been passed.

President Barack Obama largely ignored his own legacy and delivered a ringing endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, capping an evening that focused on the high stakes in November's election.

A White House official who briefed reporters earlier in the day pointed to past party convention speeches by outgoing second-term presidents, saying they traditionally have talked about their stints in the Oval Office.

But Obama broke with that tradition, telling Democratic delegates in Philadelphia “there has never been a man or a woman more qualified -- not Bill, not me, not anyone -- than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.”

His conservative critics often hit Obama for, as they see it, his habit of talking about himself and his record even in times of crisis. For instance, social media lit up with such observations earlier this month when the president addressed a memorial service for five slain Dallas police officers.

White House officials defend that and other remarks by saying, as the country’s first African-American president, he is merely using his own story to make a point.

What’s more, it was a dozen years ago to the day that Obama — then a little-known Illinois state senator and U.S. Senate candidate — erupted onto the national stage with a powerful keynote address in Boston at the 2004 Democratic convention. That anniversary could have given the 44th president and his speech-writing team a hook on which to hang a legacy address.

[ The Latest From the Democratic Convention: Day 3 ]

But Obama chose another route Wednesday night, letting an eight-minute video about his legacy burnish his resume. After a brief opening remarks on his own tenure, he focused on trying to convince voters to keep the executive branch in Democratic hands for the next four years.

“Time and again, you’ve picked me up,” Obama said. “I hope, sometimes, I picked you up, too. Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.

“America, you have vindicated that hope these past eight years. And now I’m ready to pass the baton and do my part as a private citizen,” the president said. “This year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me – to reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us; to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.”

His full-throated endorsement of his former secretary of state seemed a signal that Obama, whom even his fiercest critics acknowledge is a master of presidential politics, realizes the general election outcome could be very close.

That’s why he chose to put her over in Philadelphia, to continue his vow to be “one of the loudest voices out there making the case for Hillary Clinton,” the White House official told reporters.

“Nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. Until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis, or send young people to war,” Obama said. “But Hillary’s been in the room; she’s been part of those decisions. She knows what’s at stake in the decisions our government makes for the working family, the senior citizen, the small business owner, the soldier, and the veteran.

Even in the middle of crisis, she listens to people, and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect,” he said. “And no matter how daunting the odds; no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits.

Obama’s speech came several days after as Trump, off his rocky nominating convention, vaulted ahead of the Democratic nominee in many polls. One, conducted by CNN, showed the New York businessman leading 44 percent to 39 percent, in a four-way race also featuring the nominees of the Libertarian and Green parties. (That survey had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.)

[ Special Coverage: 2016 Republican National Convention ]

The Economist/YouGov Poll conducted in the days after last week’s Republican National Convention found Trump within two points of Clinton (40 percent to 38 percent), with a 4.2 percentage points error margin.

"America is already great," Obama said, knocking Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan. "America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump."

He also broke with his months-old practice of referring to and criticizing Trump and his many vague — and unprecedented — policy pronouncements without using the Republican nominee's name. In fact, Obama called out the former reality television star by name around a half-dozen times. At one point, he called Trump "the Donald." At another , he alluded to "homegrown demagogues," saying they always fail in America.

“Hillary has real plans to address the concerns she’s heard from you on the campaign trail,” Obama said. “She’s got specific ideas to invest in new jobs, to help workers share in their company’s profits, to help put kids in preschool, and put students through college without taking on a ton of debt. That’s what leaders do.

“And then there’s Donald Trump. He’s not really a plans guy,” he added, in the middle chasing off jeers at the mention of the GOP nominee’s name by advising the Wells Fargo Center crowd: “Don’t boo -- vote.”

“Not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated,” the outgoing chief executive said.

Obama questioned how “a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice?” He added that if voters want a president who is “truly concerned” and the concerns of average voters, “then the choice isn’t even close.”

“If you want someone with a lifelong track record of fighting for higher wages, better benefits, a fairer tax code, a bigger voice for workers, and stronger regulations on Wall Street, then you should vote for Hillary Clinton,” he said to applause in the massive venue. “And if you’re concerned about who’s going to keep you and your family safe in a dangerous world – well, the choice is even clearer. Hillary Clinton is respected around the world not just by leaders, but by the people they serve.”

The idea was for Obama to draw a stark contrast between Clinton and Trump, arguing she has dedicated most of her adult life and career to helping others, while the New York-based businessman has never been a fighter for average people, according to administration officials.

Earlier in the evening, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., delivered a similar message, saying of Clinton: “She’s always there. She’s always been there.”

“That’s not Donald Trump’s story,” Biden said. “His cynicism is unbounded. His lack of empathy and compassion is summed up in the phrase ... ‘you’re fired.’”

[ Clintons Take Back Party as Bill Fetes Hillary ]

“Think about everything you learned as a child … how can there be pleasure in saying, ‘You’re fired?’” Biden asked rhetorically. “How can he tell us he cares about the middle class? That’s a bunch of malarkey.… He has no clue -- period.”

Her running mate, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, said Clinton is ready because of her experience and her heart.

Democratic strategist Brad Bannon applauded all speakers’ at the Democratic confab portraying Clinton as a tough leader with no quit insider her.

“When she gets knocked down, she always gets up fighting,” Bannon said. “Every time she tries to do it, it turns out horribly. When she tries to humanize herself, she usually does a bad job of it. If she wins this thing, she’ll win it because voters will know she’s tough enough to stand up to the [Russian President Vladimir] Putins and the North Koreas.”

Obama also used themes from his 2004 DNC speech at the start and conclusion of his speech, as a way of reflection. During his address that year, Obama tried to dispel the notion of separate red states and blue states with polarizing politics and spoke hopefully of the United States of America.

The president is repeated messages he has delivered in public in recent weeks, as a series of police-related shootings have gripped the country. One was that Americans are “better together,” a line that aligns closely with Clinton’s “stronger together” campaign theme.

“What we heard in Cleveland [at the GOP convention] last week wasn’t particularly Republican – and it sure wasn’t conservative,” he said. “What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world.

“There were no serious solutions to pressing problems – just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate,” Obama said. “And that is not the America I know.

[ Michelle Obama: Hillary's Secret Campaign-Trail Weapon? ]

"The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous. Sure, we have real anxieties," Obama said. "But as I've traveled this country, through all 50 states, as I've rejoiced with you and mourned with you, what I've also seen, more than anything, is what is right with America.”

But the outgoing commander in chief’s main message was it is Clinton, not Trump, who is ready to take over what experts say is the world’s most powerful military.

“I know Hillary won’t relent until [the Islamic State] is destroyed,” he said. “She’ll finish the job – and she’ll do it without resorting to torture, or banning entire religions from entering our country. She is fit to be the next Commander-in-Chief.

“Meanwhile, Donald Trump calls our military a disaster. Apparently, he doesn’t know the men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known. He suggests America is weak,” Obama said. “He must not hear the billions of men, women, and children, from the Baltics to Burma, who still look to America to be the light of freedom, dignity, and human rights.”

To that end, Retired Navy Rear Adm. John Hutson, told the crowd earlier in the night that Clinton is the “only candidate with a specific plan to defeat ISIS.”

Hutson called her “smart and steady,” adding she has the “temperament and spine to be a superb commander in chief.” He also painted Trump as unfit to lead the military.

As Obama finished his speech, Clinton joined him on stage. They waved to the crowd, her arm around his back, and chatted before he raised her arm to even louder applause.

Contact Bennett at Follow him on Twitter @BennettJohnT.

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PHILADELPHIA — On the front of the Liberty Bell, few out of millions notice the archaic spelling of “Pensylvania,” typically spelled with two N’s. And I feel just as sly strolling through the city, a conservative hiding in plain sight, right under the nose of all the Democrats in town for their convention. An anomaly camouflaged by colossal convention crowds. This is my first time at a Democratic National Convention. They hardly notice me. They have enough on their proverbial plate as it is.

While the DNC was busy rearranging its starting lineup and struggling to keep Bernie Sanders fans from staging a walkout, I made myself at home in Philly. And, it turns out, I should have bought stock in Uber. I mean no disrespect to the fine people of Philadelphia; I have no interest in offending a group of people who booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs. But the truth is that events are sprinkled far and wide through the city, and the logistics of navigating the security cordons surrounding the Wells Fargo Center are dramatically more difficult than anything we encountered in Cleveland.

[ Philadelphia: A Rough-And-Tumble Town Puts on Its Best Face ]

But the wait is almost always worth it, and I wear my anonymity like a comfy T-shirt. “The best fame,” Fran Lebowitz said, “is a writer's fame.” This seems to be true in Philadelphia. Conservative Sean Hannity may or may not have been booed out of a Wawa in the City of Brotherly Love, but nobody raised an eyebrow when I stopped in at Pat’s for a cheesesteak (and not a single eye was batted when I burned off a few extra calories running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art).

It's not that I'm afraid of being outed as a red meat-devouring card-carrying Reaganite. So far, my only run-ins with liberals have been pleasant. What is more, I’m not the only one spending this week in exile. (The Republican National Committee has held a few counterprogramming press conferences at an arena that is perhaps appropriately known for hosting boxing and wrestling events. Trump’s campaign guru Paul Manafort was at one such event; Omarosa of “The Apprentice” was at another, offering her foreign policy expertise.)

[ The Latest From the Democratic Convention ]

The truth is that the internecine skirmishes are often more heated than the partisan ones. After all, I’m not the one who leaked emails, nor am I the one who rigged the system against Bernie Sanders.

It turns out that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has more to fear from Philly than anyone like me (or Hannity).

A side benefit has been that my trip to Philadelphia has helped me fend off a looming identity crisis that so many conservatives have felt in the era of Donald Trump. Trump may not be my idea of a dream candidate, but nothing reassures the mind that the Democratic Party isn’t for you than spending time with Democrats. Again, no offense intended here. But it's good to be reminded of just how liberal the party has become since the last Clinton was nominated back in 1992. (Bill Clinton would, of course, ultimately pronounce “the era of big government” over. Today’s Democratic Party seems unlikely to yield a centrist presidency.)

[ Bernie's Dream: The Revolution Shall Never Die ]

Getting an up-close view of some of the “Bernie or Bust” folks has also helped. I’m not suggesting that both sides don’t have their fair share of activists on the fringe, but some of these kids need to lay off the hashish.

Despite some optimistic rhetoric, and the obvious fact that Democrats made real history in nominating the first major-party female candidate, I will depart the Keystone State more secure in my conservative philosophy than when I arrived.

When the gavel falls on Thursday night, I will slip out of town, unnoticed and unbowed. I'll be fighting traffic, not Bernie Bros. If they go low, I will go high. No one will care that I'm not with her.

Roll Call columnist Matt K. Lewis is a Senior Contributor to the Daily Caller and author of the book “Too Dumb to Fail.” Follow him on Twitter @MattKLewis .

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What If Joe Biden Had Run?

By Patricia Murphy

Biden Calls Trump Claims "Malarkey"

By Eric Garcia

This wasn’t supposed to be Joe Biden’s night, at least not in the mind of the two-term vice president and former chairman of two major congressional committees.

Biden was supposed to be speaking tomorrow night, accepting the presidential nomination of a party grateful for his service to its goals and to President Barack Obama.

If anyone was in line for the Democratic presidential nomination, it was Biden. If anyone paid his or her dues, it was Biden. If anyone figured out how to roll with the evolution of the Democratic Party, from moderate to liberal to third way to progressive, it was Biden. If there’s anyone still eligible for the presidency who is best suited to rally Democrats on the campaign trail and cut deals with Republicans on Capitol Hill, it’s Biden. And if there’s anyone to whom President Obama owes unflinching loyalty, it’s Biden.

It’s not hard to imagine Biden accepting the Democratic nomination for president here in Philadelphia, less than an hour’s drive from his house in Delaware and not too far from his native Scranton, Pennsylvania. He would have been a returning prodigal son. What a story that would have been, from the hardscrabble upbringing to a lifetime of public service representing Delaware in Congress to a major party’s presidential nomination. It would be hard avoid getting caught up in the sentimentality of a Biden nomination — especially because virtually everyone who knows him roots for him.

He’s the antithesis of Hillary Clinton as a politician: Smooth, charming and oppressively likable. If he stretches the truth, no one cares. But, for a variety of reasons, he never gained traction in his presidential campaigns.

[ Joe Biden and Others Who Coulda Been a Contender ]

There are few things Biden wanted more than the presidency. And there can be little doubt that he still thinks he should be the one accepting the party’s nomination on Thursday night. But he also knows that he had a much better chance of playing spoiler — of splintering Clinton’s coalition — than of defeating both her and Bernie Sanders. The threat of that was real enough to keep Clintonworld up at night last fall and to factor into Biden’s decision not to run.

By the time he sat down to take a hard look at the 2016 campaign, Clinton had already locked up so much support within the party that it would have been hard for him to build a credible operation. Part of that was the suspension of Biden’s decision-making when his son Beau died, but part of it was simply Clinton’s preparation and hard work in assuming command of the party machinery. (It's been reported that Beau Biden wanted him to run.)

So, Biden did what was best for Clinton, best for himself and best for the party. He didn’t complain publicly that the White House, including Obama, refused to help position him for the presidency. There was no visible sulking when White House officials declined to identify him as a favorite of the president or even push back hard on the idea that Obama had twice told the nation Biden was the next-best person to be president and didn’t feel that way heading into 2016.

He conducted himself with honor and redefined loyalty, even in the face of Obama’s tacit betrayal. A two-term vice president has every right to feel entitled to the support of the president — however tepid — when the administration is coming to an end. Not Biden. He had been cut out by the marriage of the Obama and Clinton political worlds.

Despite all his years of service and loyalty, Biden drew the short straw this year — a Wednesday night speaking slot in which he’s sure to make the case for Clinton, even though he certainly believes he’d make a better president.

[ One Last Hurrah for Joe Biden? ]

Democrats will cheer him heartily, handing him the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award rather than a shot at the presidency. They will recognize his service as they put a capstone on a political rise that began the year that Richard Nixon was re-elected to the presidency.

Their applause will be bittersweet for Biden. But he should bask in it. He did what Clinton always says she wants to do: all the good he could, by all the means he could, at all the times he could and in all the places he could.

Roll Call columnist Jonathan Allen is co-author of the New York Times-bestselling Clinton biography “HRC” and has covered Congress, the White House and elections over the past 15 years.

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Reid Lacerates McConnell and GOP

By David Hawkings

A presentation at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday included footage promoting the House Democrats' sit-in on gun violence.

That drew criticism from Republicans, who said that the protest was simply a political stunt.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., had specifically called out the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for fundraising off the sit-in and suggested the take over of the House floor violated decorum rules .

The Democrats' promotion of the sit-in during the DCCC presentation is likely to fuel Republicans' beliefs that it was all for political gain. But Democrats asserted that it was evidence of their willingness to fight for action on issues that Americans care about.

"We're going to push, pull stand up, sit down," members said in the video.

"If there is one thing you can count on, it's that House Democrats will always be in the fight," DCCC Chair Ben Ray Lujan said in his speech before the video.

Lujan also used his speech to say that Democrats can pick up House seats with Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket .

"If your member of Congress is supporting Donald Trump ... what does that say about their leadership, their character?" he asked.

"If they won't stand up to Donald Trump, what makes you think they'll stand up for you and your family?" he said.

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Get the latest from the convention floor

By Roll Call Staff

PHILADELPHIA – When organizers of the Impact Film Festival decided on their line-up of topical documentaries they would show at this year’s Democratic National Convention, they could hardly have expected their screening of “Newtown,” would come on the day Democrats chose to address the issue of gun violence head-on in prime-time.

But that’s what happened, and the movie about the aftermath of the December 2012d mass murder of schoolchildren and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut was screened just a few hours before Erica Smegielski and Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, along with others touched by gun violence, were scheduled to address the party gathering.

“We are all connected to this,” Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was one of 20 children killed at Sandy Hook, said at a post-movie panel. He was referring to gun violence, but the movie’s connection to the topic at hand here was on full display as well, as advocates prepared for an emotional night of addresses.

Smegielski’s mother Dawn was the principal of Sandy Hook and was killed trying to protect her students. Murphy has been a tireless advocate for enhanced background checks. Also scheduled to speak in the convention hall: former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who survived an assassination attempt and has since founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, and Christine Leinonen, Brandon Wolf and Jose Arraigada.

[ Democrat Launches Fund to Support Gun Control Candidates ]

Leinonen is the mother of Christopher "Drew" Leinonen, who was killed in the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida, last month. Wolf and Arraigada survived the Pulse shooting.

The timing of the film’s screening was coincidental, but provided the opportunity to discuss the issue at the festival here at the Arden Theater Company. Other films looked at cancer prevention (“The C Word”), nuclear safety (“Command and Control”), the liberal icon Norman Lear (“Just Another Version of You”) and African-American challenges in Washington (“Check It”).

But “Newtown” provided an entry point to a topic taking up a disproportionate share of the national conversation, following a rash of shootings in recent months.

“We wanted a platform to discuss issues everyone is talking about, and we found five films that all are relevant to what people are talking about in 2016 in general,” said Jamie Shor, co-founder of the festival. “We always feel like this is the best way to tell as story – ask people to take 90 minutes out of their day to spend time with an important topic.”

The film tells the story from the perspective of the parents of both victims and survivors, parents and first responders, but focuses on the post “12-14” world, as they call it, of three families who lost their first grade children that day: the Bardens, Wheelers and Hockleys.

“Kim and I sought to tell the story of what happens when the cameras go away,” said producer Maria Cuomo Cole, referring to the director, Kim A. Snyder.

“It’s a big ask to ask people to see this film,” Snyder said at a panel following the screening.

[ Filibuster Over, Senate Will Take Up Two Gun Control Measures ]

Rep. David Price, D-N.C., vice chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, was part of the panel as well. “I don’t see how anyone can see the film and not be affected and understand … the depth of each loss,” he said.

He emphasized that the issue of gun violence isn’t going away, and Democrats will continue to push legislation to address it, particularly enhanced background checks.

“Believe me, it’ll be a national issue, front and center, in the presidential race,” he said.

This isn’t the first time this particular film had a serendipitous screening. On June 23, it showed as part of the AFI Docs Film Festival in Washington, the day House Democrats ended a dramatic sit-in on the House floor to call attention to Congress’ position on legislation designed to curb gun violence.

The filmmakers are planning another screening, this one on Capitol Hill, after lawmakers return from their summer recess.

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PHILADELPHIA – As anyone who has caught the DNC on television knows, this even more than the RNC in Cleveland has already been one unconventional nominating convention, with some boos for the nominee and a couple of “Knock it off!” remonstrations from the podium.

Some of the early speeches soared , like Michelle Obama’s when she said, “Don’t let anyone tell you this country isn’t great.” (And thanks, Mrs. O, for inspiring my 20-year-old daughter to notice that you refrained from being “mean about Melania” Trump’s speech that borrowed from your own, when that would have been so easy but so unnecessary: “I’m going to remember,” my daughter said, ‘When they go low, we go high .’ ’’)

Other addresses on Night One were so larded with high-cholesterol hyperbole that they had the opposite of the desired effect on me. (No, Hillary Clinton has not been fighting all her life for every issue in the platform.)

It was three of the less remarked-upon, non-primetime speakers, though, who highlighted some of the themes that I think will be crucial to a Hillary Clinton victory in November.

Among them, direct from San Antonio, Texas, where she heads the local chapter of Gold Star Wives, was Cheryl Lankford , a war widow who said she was bilked by Trump University out of $35,000 of the insurance money the Army gave her after her husband was killed in Baghdad in 2007.

[ Michelle Obama, a Unifying Force in Philadelphia ]

She was embarrassed to stand up there on the stage and admit she got taken, she said, in what to me was the single most effective moment of the night in terms of its potential to sway voters. But she’s willing to be embarrassed, she said, because she doesn’t want the country to fall for empty promises the same way she did.

After her husband, Jonathan M. Lankford, a command sergeant major in the Army, died, she said, she put a lot of thought into how to spend the insurance money in a way that would put her back on her feet and make her husband proud of her. So in 2009, she signed up for Trump U classes hoping to learn some of the tips that had made Donald Trump so successful in business, but almost immediately realized that the course would do no such thing.

“They broke their promises…stopped taking my calls…the whole thing was a lie…Donald Trump made big promises about Trump University. And I was fooled into believing him. Now he’s making big promises about America. Please don’t make the same mistake.”

Another potential ka-boom theme for the fall was laid out by home state Senator Bob Casey , who pointed out just where the products manufactured by the candidate who talks so much about bringing jobs back to America are actually produced.

“Donald Trump says he stands for workers and they he’ll put America first,’’ Casey said, “but that’s not how he conducted himself in business. Where are his “tremendous” Trump products made? Dress shirts? Bangladesh. Furniture? Turkey. Picture frames? India. Wine glasses? Slovenia. Neck ties? China. Why would Donald Trump make his products in every corner of the globe but not in Altoona, Erie or here in Philadelphia?”

Answering his own question, Casey continued, “Well, this is what he said: ‘Outsourcing is not always a terrible thing. Wages in America are too high.’ And then he complained about companies moving jobs overseas because, ‘We don’t make things anymore.’ Really?”

[ The Latest From the DNC ]

Another gut-punch of a speech came from disability rights activist Anastasia Somoza , who has cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia and uses a wheelchair. She has interned for Hillary Clinton, and worked on her Senate campaign, and she quite effectively answered Trump’s jaw-droppingly cruel imitation of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski , who has arthrogryposis, which limits the functioning of his joints.

“Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Mr. Trump said last November, imitating Kovaleski in a way that Sister Mary Edna warned us against in the first grade, with the story of a boy who made fun of a disabled classmate but wasn’t laughing it up at all after God froze him in that position. Trump’s Kovaleski impersonation, which he has said was no such thing, was shown in the hall, along with shocked commentary from Fox News hosts, before Somoza spoke.

"I fear the day we elect a president who defines being an American in the narrowest possible of terms, who shouts, bullies and profits off of the vulnerable Americans," Somoza told the crowd. In mocking the reporter, she said, "Donald Trump has shown us who he really he is. I honestly feel bad for anyone with that much hate in their heart."

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Capitol Ink | Boris and Natrumpsha

By Robert Matson

Hillary's Honesty and Trump's Temperament

By Jonathan Allen

Democratic congressional aides have never felt more confident about their party’s chances in this year’s election.

That assessment is based on answers they’ve provided every month since October, when CQ Roll Call began its Capitol Insiders Survey, which polls staffers by email.

While the nation’s Democratic primary voters struggled over whether to choose Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, it was never a close call for the aides.

They have said consistently that Clinton was the best choice and expressed little worry about Sanders’ persistence.

“I don’t think he’s hurting her,” says Brendan Daly, a former spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. “He’s very sincere and his people are as well. I believe he’ll bring his people along. It’s part of the process.”

That process started when Sanders endorsed Clinton on July 12, bringing to an end a tough primary fight.

The Democratic staffers’ sense of common purpose contrasts sharply with the divisions among Republican aides.

When CQ Roll Call asked in June who they’d vote for, only 42 percent said Donald Trump. Most said they’d vote for a third-party candidate or stay home. A handful said they’d vote for Clinton.

GOP angst over Trump is playing into Democrats’ confidence, which extends beyond the presidential race.

As it became clearer that the mogul would be the GOP’s nominee this spring, more and more Democrats said they believed their party would retake the Senate and make significant gains in the House.

Indeed, in the June survey, 9 in 10 Democratic aides were bullish about their chances of winning the Senate majority, where they need to pick up four seats if Clinton wins or five seats otherwise. In the House, where they need 30 seats to retake the majority, 8 in 10 predicted a Democratic wave.

The national polls gauging Clinton vs. Trump show a much tighter contest this November, revealing a schism, perhaps, between the Democratic establishment in Washington and voters.

Trust the aides, says Steve Elmendorf, a Washington lobbyist who was once House Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt’s chief of staff. “I think Hill staffers are smarter than the average pollster. The polls are a snapshot in time.”

Could the aides be too complacent? Some Republicans are holding out hope that they are.

“As much evidence as there is that Hillary is going to be the next president, and win comfortably, anyone who takes it for granted is not paying attention to anything,” says Sam Geduldig, a former aide to Republican Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio who’s skeptical that Clinton has as easy a path as his Democratic colleagues predict.

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