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Attend official (and unofficial) DNC events

This week, there are going to be a ton of DNC-related events going on all across the city.  It’s a lot to sort through, but we’ve got you covered.

Here’s the official events list, which contains all of the events put on by the DNC host committee.

Here’s our list of unofficial events, put on by a wide array of citizens and organizations.

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The Gloves Come Off

As Dems gather in Philly, our campaign watcher tells us how to decode the Clinton campaign

As Dems gather in Philly, our campaign watcher tells us how to decode the Clinton campaign

Hillary Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine as her Vice Presidential candidate is not your usual sort of safe pick—as in, low-risk, low-reward. He can be that—a self-described “boring” guy—but Clinton may have selected Kaine with another strategy in mind: He can be “high reward” for the Democrats. Remember how Bill Clinton chose Al Gore, a fellow southerner, in 1992 to signal his intention of fighting for Southern states? It worked.

What does Hillary Clinton have in mind? Start with where the Republicans ended up in Cleveland and play it forward.

Donald Trump left no doubt in his speech Thursday night that he will try to win by maximizing the white male vote, with particular emphasis on white males without a college education. He offended almost everyone else.

Kaine historically has done well in Virginia with blue collar white males. Clinton seems to be betting that Kaine can deliver a gut punch to Trump by appealing to those voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and possibly Iowa. At the same time, his fluent Spanish also helps in Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

Siphoning off white male voters from Trump would be high reward and could stop Trump in his tracks. Clinton might be looking for a knockout but chose a partner who also can go the distance. Just slowing Trump’s push—and increasing the effort it will take for Trump to win those votes—is a gain for Clinton.

Watch where Kaine spends his time during the Convention. If he’s spending more time with rust belt state delegations (particularly Pennsylvania and Ohio), Clinton is on offense and trying to force Trump into a corner. If he’s spending more time with states with large Latino populations, she is probably playing defense.

In Trump’s world, Trump is the alpha male, ready to fight off intruders from Mexico, Syria, and the transgender community, among others. He defined his territory, described it, and marked it. Don’t go there unless you’re ready for a fight. The gloves are off.

It’s a simple, compelling case: Threats–> Fear–>Hate–>Extreme Force–>Change. It starts with the dark worldview he described so well on Thursday.

Kaine is a cherubic counterpunch: Challenges–>Calm–>Competence–>Cooperation–>Solutions. This Thursday, Clinton will have to describe her worldview at least as well as Trump did to make it all work.

If Trump is channeling Nixon 1968, Clinton has a chance to channel Reagan 1980. If she is aiming to make people think it’s morning again in America, her use of Pharrell’s “Happy” in Miami seems to set that up.

Her decision to introduce Kaine on Friday, rather than waiting for Saturday, tells you she is eager to break through Trump’s white male Maginot line. By midday Friday, she had taken the spotlight from Trump. That means one of two very different things—she is more worried than she expected to be that Trump’s speech was effective, or she is more confident than ever that Kaine can do Trump harm quickly.

Her timing surely reflects her campaign’s internal polling—daily overnight data it gathers (as do all presidential campaigns) that track tremors, fault lines, and major shocks.

This week in Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention, you might get clues about what those data suggest for the course of the campaign through November.

First, watch where Kaine spends his time during the Convention. If he’s spending more time with rust belt state delegations (particularly Pennsylvania and Ohio), Clinton is on offense and trying to force Trump into a corner. If he’s spending more time with states with large Latino populations, she is probably playing defense.

Second, listen to a few key voices from Clinton’s corner.

President Obama is working hard to extend his legacy by helping Clinton get elected, so listen to how he phrases his praises. Remember how he used Vice President Biden in 2008 to front for the campaign in the blue collar, white male vote-heavy places like Scranton, Pennsylvania and Michigan? It worked. How often does Obama bring up Kaine’s name when he’s talking about the issues that matter to those voters in those places? (Yes, politics is that granular, and then some.)

If Trump is channeling Nixon 1968, Clinton has a chance to channel Reagan 1980. If she is aiming to make people think it’s morning again in America, her use of Pharrell’s “Happy” in Miami seems to set that up.

In fact, don’t be surprised to see Biden and Kaine together a lot all week—heck, all campaign—long.

Former President Clinton can be a master at connecting with white male voters, so don’t be surprised if he spends a disproportionate amount of time talking about Kaine.

Third, Kaine’s credentials as a Senator are heavy on foreign policy and defense, plainly reinforcing Secretary Clinton’s. As he gets promoted all week, are the Democrats talking about his international chops or his domestic achievements as Virginia’s former governor. Again, domestic = blue collar, white male voters.

Finally, how, when, and where does candidate Clinton appear and talk about Kaine at the Convention and after? Assuming she won’t try to replicate Trump’s arena rock entrance on Monday or his misplaced Vice Presidential air kiss on Wednesday, she would be best served to let him appear on his own. Don’t distract from the goodwill Kaine’s appearances might bring among white male voters.

When Donald Trump took his boxing gloves off in Cleveland, he made sure everyone knew he was in the ring alone. King of the hill, and all that. Mike Pence is there to pick up towels.

It is a bareknuckle fight to the finish! Force versus finesse. Right hooks versus left jabs. One man alone versus a tag-team. A self-proclaimed savior versus a village builder.

Hillary Clinton has surrounded herself with a village of punchers—that is just her way. At the end of this week, ask yourself whether Kaine, like Pence in Cleveland, was gathering towels in the background (suggesting Clinton is preparing for a 2000 Bush v. Gore 15 round split decision)—or getting his turn in the ring (punching for a 1996 Clinton v. Dole-style early round knockout).

Mark A. Pinsky is a writer and policy consultant based in Philadelphia.

Photo header: Flickr/Lorie Shaull

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