2020 National Political Conventions

Chairman Tom Perez

MR. COSTA: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to The Washington Post Live's coverage of the Democratic National Convention. A little different than usual, but we are here, our whole team. All of the reporters and columnists will be here all week, featuring party leaders.

And our first guest today is Tom Perez, the leader of the Democratic Party. He's also an architect for the convention this week, this week's virtual convention. Thousands of people, as we know, including me, we were hoping to be there at an arena in Milwaukee--that's where the chairman is today--to watch the Democrats officially nominate Joe Biden as their nominee for president. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the convention is virtual, mostly. And it will include Vice President Biden's acceptance speech, Senator Harris accepting the vice-presidential nomination.

And, Chairman Perez, you've lined up a lot of heavy hitters in the party to keep this convention going online. So, let's talk about it. Thanks for being here.

MR. PEREZ: Oh, it's a pleasure to be with you and with everyone. It's an exciting week in Milwaukee and across America.

MR. COSTA: Chairman Perez, we hear a lot this year about the campaign being a referendum on President Trump. But a convention is about your party's sale--your message to the country about Joe Biden. What is your focus this week in pitching former Vice President Biden to the nation?

MR. PEREZ: Our focus this week is on uniting America. And not talking about simply uniting the Democratic Party. We've done--had great success there. But this is about uniting America. This is about telling everybody across America you have a seat at the Democratic Party's table.

We will be talking about and highlighting what we're doing to build back a better America. We'll be highlighting the leadership of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the historic partnership. We're going to be talking about the three pandemics that are confronting America: the coronavirus, the economic collapse that this president's failures have cost, and our civil rights pandemic. And we're going to be talking all week about how Democrats, our vision for building an America that works for everyone, talking about building back better. And that's what Joe Biden will do.

And it's not simply a conversation with the luminaries in the party. We're so excited to have Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and other remarkable speakers of that nature. But we're also going to have a convention across America, and people are going to hear from ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The paramedic down in Florida who is the frontline worker who is also a DREAMer down in Florida, and he's doing God's work helping people in the throes of a pandemic. We're going to hear from a family farmer who voted for Donald Trump because he trusted him, and he now realizes that that trust was misplaced.

So we're going to have a week where we unite our nation, where we talk about our values as a party, and where you see our standard-bearer Joe Biden, a man of character, a man of empathy, a man of compassion, a man of accomplishment, with a bold vision to build a better America and to get right to work, day one, battle-tested.

MR. COSTA: Chairman Perez, you listed the crises that are affecting many Americans and their lives. So, what do you want the takeaway to be about the message of the Democratic Party? Is this an upbeat and celebratory week at a virtual convention, or is it a very serious tone and takeaway for the viewer?

MR. PEREZ: Well, we have--we are in crisis in this country. And the question for voters this November is going to be who can lead us out of these three crises that I have just mentioned. And what we will do this week and what we're going to do for the remaining 78 days is make the case very forcefully that Joe Biden has the character, he has the experience, he understands that you have to listen to the scientists.

This president's abject failure to listen at the outset of this pandemic to the experts, his failure to respond, this notion that it's going to disappear magically--he didn't cause the coronavirus, but his botched response has resulted in tragic loss of life. We are so far behind where other countries are doing. Failures of leadership. This campaign and this election is about leadership. It's about trust. Who can you trust to help us build back a better America? Who can you trust on the pandemic, the coronavirus? Who can you trust to rebuild the economy? Who can you trust to build an America where it's not us against them, where criminal justice reform is real? And Joe Biden's track record on these issues, the Democrats' vision on these issues I think is going to take us forward. And that's what we're going to be talking about. It's a sober moment in our nation's journey, and we need a steady hand at the tiller. That's Joe Biden and that's Kamala Harris.

MR. COSTA: Chairman Perez, in any newsroom we always have to adjust to incoming news. We have a plan sometimes for the paper, then we have to redo it at the 11th hour. You've listed a lot of issues in the past few minutes. You have not mentioned the postal crisis. What's your plan in addressing that issue this week, and are you going to talk to the party about having election lawyers ready and a game plan for Election Day?

MR. PEREZ: Oh, we are using every tool in the toolbox, and we're building even new tools, because this assault on our voting is an assault on our democracy. This president can't win on the merits, and so he has to cheat. And it's shameful. It's absolutely shameful. He knows that vote by mail is safe, it's secure, it's easy. He does it himself. His family does it, and virtually his entire Cabinet does it. But now he's trying to undermine the United States Postal Service, and shame on him for doing that. So many millions of Americans depend on the Postal Service for their prescription drugs or their check, other critical elements of their survival. And you have a president who's deliberately trying to make an institution fail so that he can win his election. And here's what we're doing.

MR. COSTA: But how do you address it as party chairman at the convention?

MR. PEREZ: Oh, absolutely. We’re going to talk about our vision of winning. Our vision of winning requires making sure that the voting process is fair and safe and accessible to everyone. So that’s why we have invested so heavily in building an unprecedented voter protection infrastructure. We’ve got people on the ground in every state. And what we’re saying to people is this, very clearly, make a plan. Go to iwillvote.com. Wherever you are across the country, you can get the information about whether you’re registered. If you’re not, you can get the information to register. You can get the information about how to vote early. Make sure you do it early. Make a plan, make it early, register, get your ballot, do that early, and get out there and vote.

In addition, Speaker Pelosi is reconvening the Congress to address this crisis. We are using the litigation tool. We are organizing everywhere, Robert. We won an election in Wisconsin this April even though the Republicans in that state tried to weaponize the pandemic to suppress the vote. And the reason we won that is because we were organizing. We were using digital tools. We got people to get out there and request an absentee ballot. We went to court and we got relief so that those ballots that were sent by Election Day would be counted. That helped 90,000 voters get enfranchised.

So, we're using litigation. We're using organizing. We won handily in that state's Supreme Court race because we outhustled the other side. And that organizing has enabled us down in Florida and Arizona and elsewhere to get a significant advantage in the number of people who signed up for vote by mail. We are going to hold the Postal Service accountable for doing their job. That's what they have to do.

And we will talk about this. This is a civil rights issue. When I hear people like the chief of staff to the president say there's no--you can't show that voter fraud doesn't exist, that is horse "hooky" [phonetic]. I have done that. I've gone to court when I led the civil rights division to show that vote by mail is safe, it's secure, and you shouldn't interfere with it, Mr. President. And so, we're going to continue to do this.

And you know what? The American people are not going to be deterred or intimidated by this president's attempts to deflect. And you will hear a lot of conversation about this at the convention. And here's the deal. People need to have options. If you want to vote in person, you should have the right to vote in person. We should make that as easy as possible. If you want to vote early, we should have the maximum number of early vote days so that you can minimize the lines and be consistent with social distancing. And those who want to vote remotely, vote at home, vote by mail, vote absentee, they should be able to do that. And that's what we will continue to fight for. This is about our democracy as we know it. He's not going to get away with this.

MR. COSTA: Chairman Perez, you just mentioned Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff. And he's a former House member, former House Republican. Another former House Republican, John Kasich, also the former Ohio Governor, will be speaking at your party's convention. As tough as your message is against President Trump, beyond the Kasich speech, will there be overtures to GOP voters throughout this convention?

MR. PEREZ: There will be overtures to everyone across America. This is not a convention simply for Democrats or people who voted for Democrats. John Kasich is one of a number of Republicans who will be speaking. I disagree with John Kasich on so many issues of importance, like the right to form a union, women's reproductive health. But we have widespread agreement on the fact that this president has completely obliterated the guardrails of our democracy.

And again, viewers tonight will hear not only from Governor Kasich, but they're going to hear from other Republicans who understand--

MR. COSTA: Who else, Chairman?

MR. PEREZ: Meg Whitman, Christine Todd Whitman. And you know what? You'll hear from a few more. And we're going to keep a few surprises for later in the week. You're going to hear from people across the ideological spectrum of America, because what we all agree on is we need guardrails in our democracy.

And that's what I love about Joe Biden. Joe Biden understands the politics of arithmetic. He understands that America is at its best when we engage in addition, not subtraction. And in every state I go to, candidates running up and down the ticket tell me having Joe Biden at the top of the ticket with Kamala Harris is so helpful because Joe Biden's a uniter. And we need a uniter in chief, a healer in chief, not a tweeter in chief and a divider in chief.

And so, people will see, people will hear from leaders with whom they have disagreed. But what we are all in agreement on this week and throughout is that Joe Biden is the person for the job. And again, Republican, Democratic, independent, you have a seat at the Democratic Party table, because we're going to make sure you have a voice.

MR. COSTA: Chairman Perez, just in the final couple minutes here, you talk about a message of unity. You're reaching out to some Republicans, featuring some Republicans who are supporting Vice President Biden. But we all remember four years ago in Philadelphia the tensions with the Sanders delegates on the floor there. I know it's virtual, but do you expect any issues, any challenges from the Sanders delegates this time around?

MR. PEREZ: We've already approved the platform. The platform is a bold document. It's both inspirational and aspirational. The input from Senator Sanders and others was invaluable to putting that together. The vice president and Senator Sanders convened a series of policy groups on critical issues. I think our platform, if you have a preexisting condition, we're going to protect you. If you are looking to make sure you can get a job that pays a wage that enables you to feed your family, that's what we're fighting for. Our platform is bold and it is inclusive. And that's what we've done. We've worked really hard over the last four years. We understand that our unity is our greatest strength and Donald Trump's worst nightmare. And we're going to make sure he has a lot of bad nights' sleep between now and Election Day, because we are united as a party and this convention is about not simply our unity as a party. It's about uniting America. That's when we're at our best, when we are a United States of America. And that's what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will bring.

MR. COSTA: And are you confident--just a quick follow-up--that the Sanders camp is doing everything in their power to unite around Biden?

MR. PEREZ: Oh, Senator Sanders has been a great partner. I started working with him back in 2017 on the Unity Reform Commission. We traveled across this country together so that we could listen and learn together. And everyone that's--we had the unprecedented field, roughly two dozen candidates running for president. And what's happening right now and what's been happening frankly since April, is every single one of them are working their tails off to help Joe Biden win.

We've got--you know, a Republican who ran for president who is helping Joe Biden win this November, because let's face it. The party of Lincoln is dead. It's dead and buried. It's been replaced by the party of Trump, a far-right party that practices the politics of division. We'll probably hear some birtherism next week because they're morally bankrupt. And that's why we are going to win, because we are organizing early, we're organizing everywhere. We've got a leadership team in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that are uniting America around a bold vision of building back better. We're not trying to build back where we were in 2016. We're building where we need to go in 2021 and beyond, and that's what we're going to do.

MR. COSTA: Well, we'll see what the party of Biden and Harris looks like this week, the party of Perez. Mr. Chairman, really appreciate your time on this busy morning. I hope you'll come back around sometime for another conversation here at The Washington Post Live. Thank you, sir.

MR. PEREZ: Always a pleasure to be with you.

MR. COSTA: And hang around. If you're watching this livestream, appreciate you joining us this morning. Jen O'Malley Dillon, Joe Biden's campaign manager, will be with us next.

2020 National Political Conventions

Biden Campaign Manager Jennifer O'Malley Dillon

MR. COSTA: Welcome to Washington Post Live once again. We just had Chairman Perez, but now I'd like to welcome the woman in the room behind the scenes working with Vice President Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, Jen O'Malley Dillon. She's former Vice President Biden's campaign manager. She's worked on five presidential campaigns, state and local races. She's worked closely with President Obama on his reelection, in his first campaign for president in 2008. Jen, really appreciate you being here.

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: So happy to be here.

MR. COSTA: Jen, if we were in the room together--I wish we were at the convention together, a reporter and campaign official talking politics, but we're here virtually. If we were looking at a map right now--and you've done battleground states for over a decade--what would you tell me is the path to victory right now for the Biden-Harris ticket?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: Well, I'm glad you started with that because I could talk about the map all day long. And, you know, really our goal, our job is to get to 270 electoral votes. And for us, we want to create as many pathways to 270 as possible so that we're not reliant upon one state or one pathway. So, we believe that the map really favors the vice president this cycle. It favors him. We have more states in play. We really feel like we have an expansive map to 270. We really know that our job is to keep as many states competitive for as long as possible and really to ensure that we're building this big, broad coalition that we call the Biden coalition--the unique set of voters across the country that we think really makes up the support that it's going to take to win in each state.

And so obviously this is a national election. We're running for vice president for the whole country, but we also need to win those electoral votes state by state. And we're building our campaign in order to do that. And we have a candidate in the vice president who really has a unique ability to speak to this broad coalition far greater than Donald Trump, certainly. And that's what's putting us in a strong position to 270.

MR. COSTA: But when you think about the map, Jen, we hear so much in our reporting ranks about the industrial Midwest, and certainly that's important. But do you also see Florida or the Sun Belt as just as vital to the Biden strategy?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: Oh, absolutely. I mean, look, I would say that it's hard to look at our map and not think about each state uniquely. And, you know, I would--I would argue that we have a lot of lessons that we have learned out of 2016, we certainly--2012 and 2008. You know, so if start from there, we start with the states that are on the map that we feel pretty confident in but we really need to do the work, those are the Virginias, the New Hampshires, the Colorados. In 08 and 12, those were really strong battleground states. They are still battleground states, but we are heavily favored. Some people might call them safe states. I certainly don't believe that. I believe that we have to do the work to ensure that we continue to maintain our support there.

Then you look at that sort of traditional swing state list. That is some of the states that you were referencing. It's Pennsylvania, it's Wisconsin, it's Michigan. It is also, though, Florida and North Carolina and Arizona. And in those states, we obviously don't have to win all of them. It certainly depends on which states we win based on the size of how many of them we need--2, 3, 4. And those states, we really have--we're ahead in the polling now, although that's just a snapshot in time. But we are competitive across the board. And they are generally going to be states that will tighten up a bit, certainly between here and November, because they are swing states. They have swung either way in previous elections. Those are the states that Donald Trump won in '16 that we obviously are focused on winning back.

Arizona--I talk about a great deal. The campaign staff kid me often because I talk about it so much. It has never really truly been a battleground state at the level that it is. And some of that's because of the trends over the last several cycles. Some of that's because of the important work that's been done on the ground. Mark Kelly is really running an incredibly strong campaign. We're going to work very closely with him. We are working very closely with him. But it is truly a battleground.

And then you look at states like Ohio and Iowa and Georgia and Texas. All of those states are on the map. We're within the margin. We're ahead, depending on what polling you're looking at. And we are doing the work to ensure that they're in play. So, our job is to make sure that we are keeping all these pathways open to us, that we're not relying on a historical sense of where the race should be. We're looking for opportunities wherever possible. We're going on offense wherever possible. We're playing these states in a way that Democrats haven't ever before, and we're doing it to win, which I think is a place that we're not seeing as much of as you look to Donald Trump's recent strategy in the states he's playing in, which is a much smaller number of states that we're seeing right now than we're being--we're competitive and where we're spending our resources.

MR. COSTA: And what about the South, Jen? You think about Georgia. Stacy Abrams' campaign in 2018 for governor came close. Democrats are always trying to come back in the South. Could 2020 be the year, and what would it take to start to win a state like Georgia again at the presidential level?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: Absolutely. I mean, look, I think 2020's the year, I think for sure, whether, you know, we're talking about Florida, whether we're looking at Georgia. You know, these are states that are really changing demographically over year after year. They are states where there's just stronger electoral population in support of Democrats. That continues to trend in our direction.

They are also states--as you were mentioning in Georgia, I had the opportunity to work with Stacey Abrams on her campaign in 2018. And the work has been done, the foundation has been laid for us to build on in a way that we have not seen previously. So, I think that the states in the South are real opportunities for us. You know, they are places that we have strong support, where we're growing the electorate, where we're continuing to see, you know, real opportunity, both locally and also at the national level. And we have leaders like Stacey Abrams that are helping pave the way, and that has a real impact on our ability to do the job of engaging voters and ensuring that they turn out to vote.

MR. COSTA: You used the phrase, Jen, the Biden coalition. What does that include? Does that include the Sanders voter to the John Kasich Republican who doesn't like President Trump's leadership? What does that look like, that Biden coalition?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: I'm glad you asked that, because I honestly believe that Vice President Biden has a truly unique ability to bring people together, and I think you're seeing that in so many ways. Certainly, you're seeing that from day one in terms of the campaign he's led and the voices and the message he's driven across the country. You're seeing that in historic numbers of turnout and enthusiasm behind his candidacy in the primaries. You're seeing that in how quickly we were able to bring the party together for Senator Sanders to come on board. That is certainly a testament to the vice president and to bringing support across the board.

You know, as you heard Chairman Perez talk about, this convention is about welcoming everyone. Whoever you are, whoever you voted for before, wherever you live, wherever you come from, you are welcome in our party, in this convention, but you are welcome as part of the vice president's candidacy. You know, we really look at that and we think there's real opportunity to continue to grow that coalition. So, yes, of course it is making sure that we're speaking to the base of our party, too, our core groups that are always driving forward, showing up to vote, and doing the work, the heart and soul of our communities, African American women. You know, across the board, Democrats, we've really united the party--you're seeing that in all the polling--and the support that the vice president has is completely united behind him.

Then you look at the voters that came on board in 2018 that have been--and we're continuing to see as well trending in our direction suburban voters, more women voters, suburban women voters in particular. We're seeing that was a huge driver in support for the House winning in 2018, and we're continuing to see those trends.

And then you look at, you know, this broader group of generally disaffected voters. Maybe these are voters that have been moving away from Democrats in recent years. You know, they're voters in some of the communities we've just been talking about. They're young voters. You know, we are doing the work to reach these voters, to make sure that they know that they have a voice in this coalition that the vice president not only is a leaders for them but also is carrying their voice in how he's leading, and that we are spending the time to make sure that we're having that conversation about what's at stake in this country.

So, we really kind of look at that broad coalition across the country, across these different groups. We think about senior voters, for instance, that are in support of the vice president in significant numbers, so far ahead of any Democrat in recent memory. That's certainly about the vice president's leadership. It's of course about Donald Trump. We do believe this is a referendum on Donald Trump, and we're seeing that in the support and the concern that voters have, seniors in particular with Trump's leadership around--or frankly lack of leadership around--COVID and the economy. But we believe that the vice president, to win, must build a broad coalition, and we believe that he's doing just that.

And I would just add, I think he's uniquely qualified to do that. I'd be hard pressed to imagine, you know, a build back better economic plan the likes of which the vice president rolled out over the last several weeks that talked about, you know, made in America as well as a clean energy future as well as a caregiving economy in the way the vice president did. And that's because voters trust him across the board, and that's what they're driving home to the support and the growth that we have on the campaign.

MR. COSTA: Jen, those voters, many of them also would like to see Vice President Biden, see Senator Harris on the campaign trail. But we are in the middle of a pandemic, an economic crisis but especially a pandemic that raises health issues. As campaign manager, how do you deal with that issue? You want the candidates to travel, perhaps. But will they travel in the coming months?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: So, you know, it's hard to imagine how much I've been thinking about this, and the whole campaign has. You know, our job is to meet with and show up to voters wherever they are. So, I am far less concerned about the travel restrictions as I am making sure that we are spending the time and building community and connection and engaging with voters during this time of crisis.

You know, we often say people come to a campaign for the candidate, they often stay for the experience, the participation, the empowerment, the people that they're with. So how do we recreate that in a virtual way? How do we ensure that we are creating opportunities to build connection that aren't just looking like they have in the past just because that's the way we do things, but they're really rethought anew? And that means a lot to us as a campaign as we thought about our new organizing model, as we've thought about how do we reach voters while not putting them in harm's way or our teams or our volunteers in harm's way, how do we ensure that we make connections and we have quality conversations?

And that doesn't always mean that it's just to say, you know, I want to know how you feel about this election specifically or, you know, are you with us or against us. It's been far less partisan than that. It's first and foremost showing up for people and saying how are you doing, what's going on, you know, how can we be helpful, how is your community handling that, what's your life like. And that foundation, we've been communicating with and building on week after week during this crisis, really showing up for our voters.

So, what does that mean for us tactically? Well, it means, frankly, that we've not stopped and missed one beat in how we engage with voters, that we're doing it whether--wherever they want to be met, that's where we're going to be. So, some of that's digitally. Certainly, we're reaching people in new ways digitally across platforms, showing up in those platforms, working across this broad coalition of surrogates and supporters that we have on their networks as well as ours.

But we're also using traditional tactics in ways that honestly, you know, have had some pretty profound impact. Phone calls are much more prevalent and more successful. I know we're seeing this in polling. More people are responding. We're certainly seeing this in the work that we're doing in the campaign. Our ability to have conversations--I know I say all the time, sometimes I'm just happy not to talk to someone in my family that I'm stuck in the house with. So, we're seeing that. We're seeing that over texting. And so, what we're focused on is building community, making sure that we are doing the work of voter contact, but we're doing that in a way that is safe and that allows people to make those connections.

The final thing I'd just say on this is, you know, the vice president is reaching millions and millions and millions of people as he's engaging with folks. He's doing that certainly when we're able. And you've seen us travel to do that. He's doing that, you know, throughout this past week as we rolled out Senator Harris--our running mate who is just so phenomenal and amazing, and it's just been such a wonderful week to lead us into this next wonderful week. But we are really looking for the opportunities about how we can more broaden our reach. You're seeing that with the convention as well. You know, we believe, while there's challenges here, there's real opportunities. And we're really capitalizing that, and I think we're certainly seeing that with how we're organizing and how we're reaching people.

MR. COSTA: And one of those challenges you face--and we just talked about it with Chairman Perez--is the postal crisis. When you're sitting there looking at all your data, how many votes do you expect to come through the mail this fall, and how are you preparing for dealing with those votes and the postal crisis at the same time?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: Yeah, of course this is--and the chairman spoke to this very well--I mean, this is top of mind for everyone. Fundamentally as a campaign, our job is to ensure that we are doing everything we can to making it as easy and as accessible for people to vote in the way that they want to vote in the lives, whether that's vote by mail, whether that's early, in person, whether that's on Election Day. We are doing the work to ensure that we are minimizing the chaos.

We know that Donald Trump's strategy is one of subtraction. It is certainly clear from everything that we're seeing, every metric we look at on the campaign, that our campaign is growing. It's growing in support. It's growing in donations. It's growing in engagement. It's growing across every metric that we look at to determine success and to make sure that we're on track. It's hard to see Donald Trump's path as positive as ours at the moment, and so he sees this as a game of subtraction. And certainly, that's in part what we're doing.

Part of his strategy, which we saw in Wisconsin, we saw in Georgia, is creating chaos, to make it more confusing for people to participate in this process. Our job as the campaign is to ensure that we're doing the exact opposite. We're breaking through that chaos. We're doing everything we can on the front end to prevent things that we think will really harm people's ability to participate. But we're also doing as much to ensure that we are supporting voters in showing up and voting.

And that means in places like Arizona, where 70 percent of the population votes by mail. They're on the permanent absentee list. They are voters who do this year after year. They know how to do this work. So now our job is to just make sure that they know they've got to get that application and their ballot in early, as early as possible to give the Post Office the time that it needs to.

There is no doubt that there is political work at play here. And, you know, we welcome the leadership Speaker Pelosi is showing on this issue. We are obviously very concerned about the operational changes that are being put in place two months before an election. We also acknowledge that we're in a pandemic and postal workers themselves are doing everything they can to do the best job that they can with very little support. And so, our job is to make sure our voters know that there is a way to participate safely, that we are helping them do that. Every state is different. Every, you know, jurisdiction is different. And how do we make sure we communicate that? How do we support voters from an end-to-end standpoint--so from registration all the way to vote--and make it as easy as possible and then make sure that we're executing on that?

So, I feel very confident that we are going to be able to execute our strategies and reach our voters. I am also very confident that Donald Trump's going to do everything he can to try to stand in that way. And we're going to ensure that we have the resources and the focus to stop that. At the same time, certainly we are very focused on ensuring that we do everything we can to maintain the best process possible to support people voting, and voting by mail, and doing that as early as possible.

MR. COSTA: Jen, just to pause there, when you talk about executing the plan, we keep hearing from top Democrats lawyers are ready, the House speaker is bringing back the Congress, at least the House, to debate this issue and discuss this issue. But can you offer any more specifics or details about what the Biden campaign is doing on the ground or virtually to address this ongoing postal crisis?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: Yeah, I mean, look, I will speak more broadly. I will say that we will have the largest voter protection effort that has ever been conducted on a presidential campaign. And I can say that because I've been part of each one for the last 20 years in presidential politics. You know, we have always been equipped to ensure that we're doing all we can to support voters to vote in any way they can and what's available to them in their state. So that certainly means we are looking at a very sophisticated and complex multi-pronged approach across every lever that's available to us. That includes certainly litigation. That includes certainly political coordination and legislative efforts. That certainly includes, you know, support--supporting the jurisdictions that are executing on this election. You know, we know again, if we go look at the primary, the challenge in Georgia was less, you know, malicious intent and more the fact that poll workers that traditionally work the polls cycle after cycle, they're older voters. Maybe in the time of COVID were not able to participate in the same way. So, you had new poll workers who were less trained or did not have the training, that didn't have the experience, those mechanisms weren't put in place. So, we're very focused on how do we support the participation and execution of an election in, you know, a pandemic, which has not ever been done before, and that we recognize that there are real challenges that need to be supported through in a different way.

Certainly, we are very focused on making sure that we are supporting our voters and meeting them where they are. What I can tell you is that in all of the work that we're doing now--the voter engagement, the research--we are seeing because of what is at stake in this country, because of the support that the vice president is carrying, people are going to find a way to vote. And they just need to make sure that they have that information. So, we will have online--I think the chairman mentioned iwillvote.com--we will be executing the most robust advertising strategy and resource allocation across all of our advertising channels to reach voters around voting in particular.

We are going to be doing it earlier than ever before. Often, we talk about in elections you're sort of building we call it the backwards hockey stick, right? Everything kind of builds up to maximum capacity right before the election. Well, because we're in a pandemic, because of these concerns about mail and timing, because of these unique laws state by state, we're going to have a number of places that that hockey stick, that backwards hockey stick starts in early September and continues at a very high peak all the way through November.

So, we feel very confident that we not only have the operational ability to execute on this, we also have the right strategy to ensure that we're reaching voters and we're supporting them through that process and we're doing that on the front end. And our goal is going to be pushing people to participate and vote, to know it's safe across the board, to know the way that they can vote, and to make sure whatever they're doing, they're doing it as early as possible, while also ensuring that we're supporting a heavy amount of turnout across this. We expect turnout to be greater than any presidential before us, and we're going to ensure that that takes place even during a pandemic.

MR. COSTA: You believe turnout will be higher than any other time in American history?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: Yes, I mean, certainly in recent history. We expect turnout to be higher than in 16. And, you know, we're going to do all we can to make sure that we're supporting voters as they turn out.

MR. COSTA: Jen, you've worked closely with President Obama over the years. You're running the Biden-Harris campaign as campaign manager. But in these strange times, tough times with the pandemic, you may rely on some major figures like beyond the ticket, such as President Obama. What is going to be his role beyond the speech this week in the final stretch of this campaign?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: Well, look, you know, the first thing I'd say is, you know, the vice president is such a tremendous candidate, and for me to have the opportunity to work with him has been, you know, a really special experience and one that, you know, is allowing us to really partner together not just with, you know, former candidates and, as you said, President Obama. You know, they're out there doing the work. And so often you have in a primary people coming together and saying, you know, we support you and kind of checking the box on that, but not really engaging as much as one might hope.

And in this campaign and in support of the vice president, it has been so amazing to see the just breadth and depth of support and action the vice president's supporters are taking to help us, reaching out to their own networks, making sure that they're helping us whether it's fundraisers to grassroots engagement--and we certainly are seeing that with President Obama--and is, you know, something that, honestly, at the end of the day, we know it's going to take everyone in order to make sure that we--you know, that we win and we save democracy. But we're seeing such tremendous support across the board but also support in action. And that's something that we are going to continue to see.

You know, President Obama has been a great partner across the board. You know, we have really had wonderful opportunities for voters to see the vice president and President Obama talking and, you know, going through some of the real serious issues that this country is facing, such incredibly serious issues, and reminding voters what this country needs and deserves in leadership. And I think that you're seeing that come through in everything the vice president's doing, in many ways serving as the voice of president as he's running for president. You saw that in some of the advertising we did in our first ad in Texas and our ads in Arizona and Florida. They didn't say vote for us. They weren't talking about the politics of the campaign. They were talking about how important it is to wear a mask, and also, more importantly, to say we know that this is hard, but you're going to get through it, and all of that directly from the vice president.

So, you know, that kind of leadership we're going to continue to see from him. And it inspires the support and the action of so many other leaders in our country. And that's what I'm so excited about the convention this week. You know, I'll put our team up against any team any day of the week. I think you're going to see the full breadth of this country over the next four days telling the story of this country, telling the story of how seriously we need leadership in this crisis, these multiple crises that we're going through, and how our party is stepping up to that because of the tremendous leadership we have across the Board.

MR. COSTA: Jen, in just the final few minutes here, I was asking some of your colleagues about you, and they say, Jen, she's all business, total professional. She doesn't want to talk about herself. But can you tell us a little bit about what it's like to be a campaign manager for a major party ticket in a pandemic? Your candidate is in Delaware working from home. You're likely working from home. How does this all work, and how is your relationship right now with Vice President Biden--someone you knew, but perhaps didn't know so well when you joined this campaign?

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: Well, I mean, I feel like as someone who really has done presidential races for the majority of my career--that's in part how I started--I think all of that has helped build for this moment and this campaign. You know, I am--I honestly feel so fortunate to work for the vice president. He and I, in some ways we come from the same place. My parents are, you know, former public school teachers and, you know, really share similar values, and I think that we've really formed a great partnership.

But, you know, his leadership is what's got us here. And one of the things that I think is, you know, so important to say is obviously I came a little bit later to this team than many that have been on this team before, but the foundation was laid from the beginning. I mean, the vice president said from day one that his whole reason in getting in this race and what this country needed was speaking to the soul of the nation. And that has not changed for one second, that strategy, that message, the authenticity of our candidate has been carried from the primary. It is what propelled him to win and has taken us into the general election.

You know, I know that campaigns are very important. My job is to help make sure that we are doing all we can to not be constrained by the way it's been done before, to acknowledge that we are in an unprecedented time and we need to rethink everything we thought we knew about organizing in campaigns, that we get the fundamentals right, that we don't get strayed by what I call the bells and whistles of campaigning or the distractions that Donald Trump has put up there, but that we also make sure that we're staying focused on our goals and ultimately our path to victory and stay very disciplined to that. It's very easy for me to do my job when I have a candidate like the vice president.

And at the end of the day, we as a campaign are only as good as our candidate and our leadership, and we are only as good--and if we're built in the essence of who our candidates are. That is certainly what was behind the success of President Obama. We talk all the time about how he was a community organizer, and we created our campaign in that likeness. That is the same way we're building this campaign. The vice president speaks to real people every day. He carries their voices with them. He is someone that understands what people in this country are going to through. You know, he's not only a leader that can lead because of experience, having taken us through a crisis before, but he has the empathy to understand and connect with voters and really see them from his only personal experience and lived experience to his leadership. And so our job at the campaign is to just make sure we're amplifying that, that we're executing on that, that we're telling that story, and we're making sure that it's clear that while this is a referendum on Donald Trump, it is also an opportunity to color in a little bit more of who the vice president is and his leadership and his vision for the country.

And I feel like, you know, we have been able to come through that, and that's a testament as a campaign to our team, from the folks that started from the beginning, to the new members that have joined, I really just am so inspired by the fact that our team has--you know, it's not an abstract idea that they're doing this work during the campaign. They're all being impacted themselves just like everyone else in the country is. And so, they bring that sense of understanding about what's happening to the voters they're talking to because they are living through it and it's a shared experience. And I think fundamentally that is what has allowed us to build this campaign and to be ready for this moment, and it is a reflection of who the vice president is and his leadership that's carrying us forward.

MR. COSTA: Jen, I have a million more questions, but we're going to have to leave it there. I'll let you get back to work. Appreciate you taking the time as this Democratic Convention begins. Thanks very much.

MS. O'MALLEY DILLON: So great to be here with you today. Thanks so much.

MR. COSTA: Come back sometime, and good luck this week.

MS. O'MALLEY DILLION: Thank you. Will do.

MR. COSTA: And thank all of you for joining us at Post Live. It's a special week for any political junkie, anyone who loves reporting and great editorials. The Washington Post is going to be here all week, all day and night to help you understand what's going on with the Democratic National Convention, this virtual convention. It's not the same. I miss going to these restaurants and coffee shops with sources in the cities and seeing everybody up close. But we're going to do the best we can, have a little fun along the way.

And just go to Post Live’s website, WashingtonPostLive.com or WashingtonPost.com to read all of our reporting, to see the schedule of what’s coming up. There’s so much going on. It would take me a long time to read you our whole itinerary. But believe me, it’s online. Check it out. And stick with us. We’ll be here covering this in depth. Thanks very much.

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