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Five takeaways from the third night of the Democratic convention

Barack still rocks. Eight years after beating Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, President Obama stood onstage at Wells Fargo Arena on Wednesday and endorsed Clinton in the kind of speech that won him the presidency. In a speech with a little humor, a little soaring language and a lot of passion, the president mocked "Donald Toupe." He effusively endorsed Clinton and defended her character -- which many question -- while admitting that she makes mistakes. And most importantly, the president offered a vision of an alternate America that's considerably brighter than the deteriorating dystopian doomscape that Republican nominee Donald Trump described last week. Recounting the achievements of his eight years in office as well as his interactions with average Americans, Obama declared: “America is already great. America is already strong." And then, finally, "our greatness does not depend on Donald Trump.” Will Trump's hardcore followers agree? Almost certainly not. But did Obama give undecided voters some real inspiration? Certainly.

[Gallery: Democratic National Convention: Day Three]

“A sane, competent person.” Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave one of his trademark monotone orations that may have been one of the most important speeches of the convention. That’s because Bloomberg is sort of a rich man’s version of an undecided voter, moving from one party to the other before settling in as an independent. That gives Bloomberg more credibility among undecided voters watching at home than any other speaker on the program – and he used his time on the stage wisely, saying something no one else has dared to say. After tearing apart Trump’s business record and praising his experiences working with Clinton, he said: “Let’s elect a sane, competent person.” Remember that phrase. Everybody will.

[Related: Clinton must overcome negatives in her biggest speech ever]

Joe owned the room. In what may be his last big moment on the national stage, Vice President Biden delivered a deft endorsement of Hillary Clinton along with a devastating dissection of Donald Trump. “No matter where you were raised, how can there be a pleasure in saying: ‘You’re fired!’ ” Biden said in a speech that united a room that had interrupted former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta only moments earlier. It’s all a testament to Biden’s power as a retail politician, which carried him just one step short of his life goal. And what a life it’s been, a life of great tragedy – the loss of his first wife, the loss of his son – and great dignity and yes, oh yes, lots and lots of guffaw-inducing gaffes. But beyond all that, what matters most is that Joe Biden has always been an old-school politician who would work with anyone and never forget anyone’s name. Which is why anyone who knows Joe Biden started missing him already last night.

Say it ain’t so, Tim. Four days after delivering a command performance when unveiled as Clinton’s running mate, Kaine seemed more like a nervous middle-aged guy accepting an award from the Kiwanis Club Wednesday night. From his awkward Donald Trump impression, to his sudden new habit of droppin’ the “g” at the end of words, to his wildly striped tie (which is probably available at Marshall’s), Kaine unwittingly gave a performance for the comedians. And in a perfect coda to all this, he bounded down the steps of the stage hoping to visit the Virginia delegation only to get stopped in his tracks by the Secret Service. If all this charming goofiness reminds you of somebody, well, yes. Joe Biden, meet your Mini-Me.

[Related: VP nominee Tim Kaine and the Great Mascara Debate]

Bernie or bust, redux. Think about this. Fifteen years after 9/11, after two endless wars and amid a whack-a-mole fight against radical Islamic terrorists all around the world, former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta took the stage at his own political party’s convention – and got interrupted and heckled. Blame the Bernie Bro’s and the Bernie Babes, who believe their collective wisdom – “No More War” – outstrips that of a man who served for decades in Congress, who managed the federal budget, who worked as White House chief of staff. Obviously, these novices who think they know it all don’t plan to go away – until, perhaps, they learn that chants and screams don’t necessarily lead to change.


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