NEW YORK, Aug 19 (APP): US Democrats officially nominated former Vice President Joe Biden to be their presidential nominee on Tuesday night, setting up an election battle against President Donald Trump, a Republican, in November.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Biden said in brief remarks made online following the vote from his home Wilmington, Delaware, after a touching video about his life and work. His wife, Jill Biden, and several grandchildren joined him for the moment.
The second night of the Democratic Party’s four-night national convention, at which the nomination was made through a virtual roll call votes, featured elder statesmen like former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, rising stars of the Democratic Party as well as prominent Republicans, who made the case that Biden would return integrity to the White House and normalcy to American lives.
Biden’s nomination was expected, and there was no drama at the convention, which was to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the coronavirus pandemic prevented the traditional gathering of thousands of party supports.
Democratic activists and dignitaries had to cast their votes from locations across all 50 states and from the American territories and the District of Columbia (DC).
Among them, Pakistan-born Khizr Khan, the father of fallen Muslim-American Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who spoke out about President Trump’s immigration policies at the 2016 Democratic convention, represented Virginia and accused the president of standing up for “white supremacists” during the 2017 unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Former second lady Jill Biden, an educator, headlined the two-hour event from an empty 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 and unsubtle case that Trump’s presidency has been a failure.
“The burdens we carry are heavy and we need someone with strong shoulders,” Jill 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.”
Democrats also used the night to elevate the issue of health care, both as an asset to Biden’s candidacy because of his current and previous commitment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides health insurance coverage, and as an indictment against Trump, who has tried to gut the ACA.
“Even during this terrible crisis, Donald Trump and Republican politicians are trying to take away millions of people’s health insurance,” said health-care activist Ady Barkan, who is dying of ALS and spoke with the use of a computerized device. He described a second Trump term as an “existential threat.”
Former president Bill Clinton added to the unrelenting criticism of Trump.
“At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos,” Clinton said in his prime-time speech. “Our party is united in offering you a very different choice: a go-to-work president. A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy.”
Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 95 year old, also went to bat for Joe Biden at Tuesday night’s Democratic National Convention saying on an audio tape that Biden “must be our next president.”
“Joe Biden was my first and most effective support in the senate. For decades he’s been my loyal and dedicated friend,” Carter said. “He’s has the experience character and decency to bring us together. You deserve a person with integrity and judgment. Someone who’s 100% fair, someone who’s committed to what is best for the American people. Joe is that kind of leader and he’s the right person for this moment in our nation’s history.”
As Democrats stage a convention upended by a pandemic that has killed more than 168,000 Americans, they have continued to remind the country of the devastation taking place under Trump’s watch.
Jill Biden’s remarks, which followed a video montage highlighting the Biden’s 43-year marriage, were delivered from the Delaware high school where she once taught English. She used the setting to illuminate the fears and concerns felt by parents, teachers and students around the country as they navigate a return to classes amid the pandemic.
“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways,” she said from a room in Brandywine High School. “There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors. The rooms are dark as the bright young faces that should fill them are confined to boxes on a computer screen.”
At the beginning of the year, few Democrats could have predicted their own convention would largely consist of people appearing in boxes on a computer screen, rather than before the raucous crowds that have traditionally gathered to officially nominate a candidate for president.
As the coronavirus rages nationwide, the Democratic convention this year is being conducted almost completely virtually, in line with public health guidelines advising against large crowds and unnecessary travel.
Trump, who has scheduled his most active week of travel and campaigning yet during the Democratic convention, appeared to flout such guidelines as he held a campaign-like rally Tuesday focused on immigration.
With hundreds of supporters gathered inside a Yuma, Arizona, airport hangar, including many without masks, Trump continued to publicly bash Democrats as they prepared to formally nominate Biden.
“Joe Biden is the puppet of the radical left-wing movement that seeks the complete elimination of America’s borders and boundaries,” Trump told the crowd, mischaracterizing the Democrat’s border proposals.
Instead of featuring cheering delegates in Milwaukee huddled around signs with their state’s name held high in the air, Tuesday night’s programme included a virtual roll call that consisted of brief video messages from people in 57 states and territories.
Some of the Democrats who appeared were high-profile party figures. Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg represented Indiana in a video shot from South Bend, where he served as mayor. Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack gave remarks from a cornfield as Iowa deals with the destruction caused by the recent derecho.
In keeping with the theme of unity the Democrats attempted to drive home Tuesday night, the roll call also included several non-politicians — including a registered nurse from NNew York, a fourth-generation farmer from Kansas and a recent college graduate from Montana.
Jacquelyn Brittany, who featured in a viral moment last year spontaneously declaring her love for Biden, was the first person to put his name into nomination for president.
The 31-year-old African-American security guard who blurted “I love you” to Biden as she escorted him in an elevator to an editorial board meeting at the New York Times offered personal testimony of Biden’s decency.
“I take powerful people up on my elevator all the time. When they get off, they go to their important meetings. Me, I just head back to the lobby,” said Jacquelyn, who requested that The Post identify her by her first and middle name, Brittany.
“But in a short time I spent with Joe Biden, I could tell he really saw me, that he actually cared, that my life meant something to him.”
Republicans were also featured, continuing a theme that began Monday. Cindy McCain, the wife of late senator John McCain, a Republican, narrated a poignant video chronicling the unlikely friendship between Biden, a lifelong Democrat, and her husband.
Biden’s friendship with the 2008 Republican presidential nominee has come up throughout his campaign, touted as a sign of his ability to earn respect from people across the political spectrum.
Former secretary of state Colin Powell, a retired general who served under three Republican presidents, also appeared via video, along with several diplomats, generals and foreign policy officials who came out to offer endorsements of Biden and sharp critiques of Trump.
All the speakers highlighted a different issue on the Democratic platform or an aspect of Biden’s character, an intentional effort to showcase the wide variety of people supporting his nomination and standing in firm opposition to Trump’s reelection.
With a focus on issues including health care, national security and the rule of law, the presenters sought to make the case that the party was largely united in its push to pivot away from the Trump era. Given the condensed format, most had mere seconds to make their case.
The night kicked off with a keynote address that featured a Zoom-style montage of 17 up-and-coming Democrats speaking into cameras from locations across the country rather than a single rising star. The group included members of Congress, state legislators, mayors and other local leaders.
“Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage,” said Stacey Abrams, a Georgia Democrat who fell short in her bid for governor in 2018.
That Biden would become the party’s nominee after failing to do so during short-lived presidential runs before the 1988 and 2008 elections was far from certain when he entered the race last year.
The presence of a former vice president did not discourage other contenders from joining the fray in what became the largest and most diverse presidential primary contest in history.
Several of the candidates who competed against Biden for the democratic nomination have been featured in video montages during the convention, expressing support for the nominee in a show of unity aimed at corralling the party around the central goal of defeating Trump.
Throughout the convention, the prospect of Trump’s ouster has formed a kind of ideological glue that has held together factions of the Democratic Party that have sharply differing views on policy and tactics.
On Tuesday, that diverse coalition was represented by a roster of speakers that included Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at 30 the youngest member of the House of Representatives, and Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former president at 95.
While the technology-driven event went off largely without a hitch, the big-tent approach was not free of tension. Some Democrats complained that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez only had 60 seconds to speak. She used her time to second the nomination of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who was one of Biden’s rivals for the nomination, saying he had built a political movement worthy of “a time when millions of people in the United States are looking for deep systemic solutions.” She did not mention Biden or his vice-presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Devi Harris of Californnia, who is expected to speak Wednesday.
The very presence of Clinton, who has spoken at every Democratic convention since 1980, struck some in the party as out of step with the #MeToo movement. That he was impeached after a relationship with a female intern complicates his place in a party that has prioritized gender equality and a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment.
While Clinton was the star of the Democratic Party in the 1990s and early 2000s, he slid into the background in recent years as former president Barack Obama, and then Hillary Clinton, rose to stardom as history-making nominees.
Still the former president, who is four years younger than Biden, maintains appeal among Democrats old enough to have voted for him 28 years ago. His experience is also relevant for Biden as he is the last person to have defeated an incumbent president and the only other person in the modern political era to win a major party’s nomination without winning either of the first two state nominating contests.
He was tapped to deliver a message about Trump’s fitness for the role of president, forming a trio of former Democratic presidents who have spoken out. The only living Republican former president, George W. Bush, is not expected to speak on Trump’s behalf during the Republican convention next week.
“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said.
Trump used his Twitter account to attack several of the speakers during the convention.
For its part, Trump’s campaign released an ad attacking Biden’s mental acuity in its most direct way yet, asking, “Did something happen to Joe Biden?”
Polls have consistently found that Americans see Biden as more mentally capable to serve as president than Trump.
The convention also featured former officials who have blasted Trump as a threat to national security.
Former secretary of state John Kerry, who has clashed with the president over U.S. foreign policy toward Iran and other nations, sought to portray Trump as a laughingstock on the global stage.
Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, who was fired by Trump in 2017 after refusing to enforce travel restrictions she has described as a “Muslim ban,” was also gave brief remarks at the convention.
“Rather than standing up to Vladimir Putin, he fawns over a dictator who is still trying to interfere in our elections,” she said Tuesday.