Barack Obama was last night due to issue a blistering rebuke to President Donald Trump in the Democratic Party convention, accusing his successor of unleashing America's "worst impulses" and treating the presidency as a reality show "to get the attention he craves."
In excerpts released ahead of his address, the former president also put the stakes in the November election in stark terms - warning that the future of American democracy is on the line in the race between Mr Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
"I am also asking you to believe in your own ability - to embrace your own responsibility as citizens - to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure," Mr Obama said in the excerpts.
He was due to speak live last night from Philadelphia's Museum of the American Revolution, ahead of Kamala Harris, Joe Biden's running mate - the nation's first black president handing off to the first black woman on a major party presidential ticket.
Even in the heat of campaigns, former presidents are typically more restrained than other politicians in their criticisms of a sitting president.
Yet Mr Obama's remarks - his most personal and direct critique of Mr Trump yet - reveal the 44th president's striking disregard for the nation's current commander in chief.
He said that while he hoped Mr Trump might come to take the presidency seriously, he now believes he is simply incapable of doing so.
Mr Obama's headlining role at the convention was aimed in part at galvanising younger, more liberal voters who may not have a natural affinity for the 77-year-old Mr Biden, a career politician with a more moderate record.
Meanwhile, former presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due to return to the Democratic convention state to cement her legacy as a champion of women in politics - and to urge people to vote, even if they're convinced Joe Biden will win.
Mrs Clinton, who lost the presidency to Donald Trump in 2016 despite winning the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, is a complicated figure in US political culture.
She is despised by many Republicans and viewed warily by some progressives who are increasingly assertive in shaping the modern Democratic Party.
In her speech, Mrs Clinton was due to reflect on her loss and urge Americans not to take the election's outcome for granted after some voters stayed home in 2016, according to the advance excerpts released yesterday.
"For four years, people have said to me; 'I didn't realise how dangerous he was'. Or: 'I wish I could go back and do it over.' Or worse: 'I should have voted.' Well, this can't be another woulda coulda shoulda election," she was expected to say.
Four years after she made history as the first woman nominated for president by a major party, Mrs Clinton nodded to another enduring legacy: the millions of women inspired by her 2016 bid who marched, ran for office and became a powerful force in taking on Donald Trump.
On Tuesday night, Joe Biden officially secured the Democratic nomination for US president, winning votes cast by party delegates in 57 states and territories in an online spectacle.
When his nomination became official, cameras flipped to Mr Biden, who was watching the roll call with his wife, Jill, in a Delaware school.
"Thank you very, very much from the bottom of my heart. Thank you all. It means the world to me and my family," Mr Biden said.
Former second lady Jill Biden headlined the two-hour event from a vacant classroom. Classrooms like the ones she stood in, empty now because of the pandemic, "will ring out with laughter and possibility" if her husband is elected, she said.
She was one of a mix of speakers from across the country who extolled the nominee as a man of character and virtue while making an aggressive case that Donald Trump's presidency has been a failure.
"The burdens we carry are heavy and we need someone with strong shoulders," Ms Biden said in an emotional speech about the tragedies in their lives that ended with a surprise appearance by the nominee.
"I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours. Bring us together and make us whole," she said.