Trouble in the streets? If ever the massive, potentially violent protests that had been expected at these two conventions were to materialize, Wednesday would be the likely day. That's because Sen. Bernie Sanders officially and finally lost the Democratic nomination Tuesday, and several hundred of his delegates walked out of the convention in protest. They stormed the lightly fortified media tent outside, but the big question is: what will they, and the thousands of other protesters who are in town, do on Wednesday?
Tim Kaine's national debut. Hillary Clinton's running mate projected a guy-next-door normalcy in his rollout speech last Saturday, and Wednesday night he gets the chance to prove himself in a far bigger venue: in the prime-time hours where millions will be watching. Kaine is a sneaky-good campaigner: a subtle charmer who uses wit and warmth to do what others do with soaring rhetoric. Vice presidential picks rarely do great good for any campaign, but on Wednesday, Kaine gets the chance to show that he can add a little something to the Clinton ticket.
Obama in the spotlight: President Barack Obama speaks tonight, and as anyone who has been paying attention knows, he is one of the great public speakers of our time. Whereas former President Bill Clinton cajoles, Obama commands the room with soaring oratory and inspiration, with a dollop of humor often thrown in. He's grown close to the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, over the years, so we can expect a detailed, dramatic defense of her in one of Obama's last opportunities to address a national television audience.
Joe Biden, and what might have been: The vice president also speaks Wednesday night, and it would be a shock if it didn't occur to him that this convention -- and the nomination -- might have been his. Biden's son, Beau, died last year, and the vice president just wasn't up for a third presidential race after that. But if he had been, he might have been a serious challenger to Clinton, given that he is a well-known and well-liked politician with none of the boatloads full of baggage that she brought to the race. Think of it this way: If Bernie Sanders could do this well against Clinton, how about Biden, who stands slightly to Clinton's left and who at least combs his hair and straightens his tie?
A focus on gun violence: The principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School speaks Wednesday night, as do two victims of the shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church last year. There's no doubt that many Democrats will find these to be powerful, important moments, but will they change anyone's mind about gun control, an issue where the feelings of many are set in stone? Even if these average folk prove to be as powerful at the podium as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama -- combined-- it's doubtful.