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DNC Day 3: Obama hands the torch to Clinton

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton embrace after

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton embrace after he urged Americans to vote for her at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Obama: ‘The choice isn’t close’

Once again, Hillary Clinton has a tough act to follow.

In a rousing speech wildly cheered at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, President Barack Obama asked America to join him in embracing her candidacy to succeed him.

“There has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America,” Obama said.

Contemptuous of Donald Trump, Obama called on voters to reject his “deeply pessimistic vision of a county where we turn against each other.”

The speech capped a night in which Vice President Joe Biden said Trump turns his back on American values and “embraces the tactics of our enemies,” and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine mocked the GOP nominee’s “believe me” refrain.

“Donald’s whole career says you better not,” said Kaine.

Read Yancey Roy’s story for Newsday. Click here for video.

The take-away: Hillary’s moment

The strategic question of Thursday night becomes whether Clinton can excite her base and win any new voters when she finally takes to the televised stage.

Or has the American electorate largely made up its mind, for good or bad, about who she is and what she represents? Read Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

Billionaire-on-billionaire shade

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hitting Trump where he boasts the most, ridiculed his business skills — and also questioned his sanity.

“Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s running his business? God help us,” Bloomberg said. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.”

Calling for independents like himself to support Clinton, Bloomberg said, “Let’s elect a sane, competent person” and not a “dangerous demagogue. Newsday’s Emily Ngo covered Bloomberg’s prime-time speech.

The spies who love me

Trump said the Russian cyberthieves who U.S. investigators suspect hacked the Democratic National Committee should go after Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state.

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

The invitation was extraordinary, to say the least. The Clinton campaign called it the “first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against a political opponent.”

Here’s video of Trump’s remarks.

GOP: Are we there? Nyet.

Republicans went spinning faster than a pirouetting Bolshoi ballerina to contain potential damage and/or distance themselves.

Campaign spokesman Jason Miller tweeted Trump “was clearly saying” that if Russia has Clinton emails, “they should share them w/FBI.” (Trump didn’t say that.)

Newt Gingrich insisted Trump was joking, but House Speaker Paul Ryan wasn’t laughing. “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin should stay out of this election,” his spokesman said.

A statement from Trump running mate Mike Pence said that if Russia is “interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences.”

Vlad to meet him

Trump said at the news conference that he has “never met” Putin.

In November, during a GOP debate, Trump said, “I got to know him very well because we were both on ‘60 Minutes’; we were stablemates, and we did very well that night.” They were actually thousands of miles apart for separate interviews.

Trump also said during a National Press Club luncheon in 2014 that he was in Moscow and he spoke “directly and indirectly with President Putin, who could not have been nicer.”

Guns and grief

The Democratic convention heard emotional appeals for gun laws from the mother of an Orlando victim, the daughter of woman killed at Sandy Hook, two survivors of the Charleston church shootings and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, grievously wounded five years ago by a would-be assassin.

There were similar stories of personal grief with a different agenda at the GOP convention last week — relatives of crime victims slain by immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Warring factions

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, making the case for Clinton’s strategy to fight ISIS, was interrupted by pro-Bernie Sanders delegates chanting, “No more war” — highlighting another lingering rift in the party.

Clinton delegates countered with “Hillary” and “U.S.A., U.S.A.”

Chelsea and Ivanka

Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton, who will introduce her mother Thursday night, have taken on the task of making personal cases for their parents, Newsday’s Michael Gormley reports.

Chelsea will try to connect with millennial voters and counter a perception by her mother’s critics that Hillary Clinton is untrustworthy.

What to see Thursday

Hillary Clinton will give the speech accepting the nomination after Chelsea speaks. Here’s the schedule.

What else is happening

  • Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort reaffirmed that the candidate will not release his tax returns even as new questions swirl over whether they would shed light on any Russian business ties.
  • Asked if he was knocking down reports about investments in Trump’s enterprises from Russian oligarchs, Manafort said, “That’s what he said, that’s what I said. ... That’s obviously what our position is.”
  • In an interview with The Huffington Post, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is advising intelligence officials that if they give Trump classified briefings, they should just fake it and make sure not to divulge anything important.
  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), in Philadelphia, said the Democratic convention portrayed a “fantasy” world that ignored the threat of terrorism, Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports.
  • Trump took a shot at Kaine for doing a terrible job as governor of New Jersey. The problem is Kaine was governor of Virginia. Trump may have confused him with former Republican New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean.
  • Bernie Sanders and his aides are taking steps to institutionalize his “political revolution” with a new organization, Our Revolution, that will groom and fund progressive candidates for elective offices, Newsday’s Tom Brune reports.
  • Some polls have suggested Trump got a bounce from his convention, but a Gallup survey finds 51% of Americans say the convention made them less likely to vote for him, while 36% said it was more likely.
  • Trump is seeking temporary visas for 78 foreign workers to work as servers, housekeepers and cooks at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and the nearby Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, BuzzFeed reports.
  • For a second night, the Nielsen TV ratings showed the Democratic convention Tuesday got more viewers than the Republicans drew a week earlier — 24 million to 19.4 million.

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