US Democratic convention: Joe Biden officially nominated challenger to Donald Trump in virtual roll call

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Democrats officially nominated Joe Biden for president on Tuesday (Aug 18), culminating a comeback that made him their choice to take on President Donald Trump with the blessing of the party’s past and future stars.

Biden received the 2,374 delegate votes necessary for the nomination at a convention that was restyled in the time of Covid-19 into a video tour across the US, substituting for the traditional roll call in a crowded convention hall.

After Delaware cast the final votes from an Amtrak station that Biden used while commuting as a senator, the nominee appeared alongside his wife Jill from the classroom at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Delaware, where she taught English in the early 1990s.

“Well, thank you very very much from the bottom of my heart,” Biden said.

“Thank you all. It means the world to me and my family. And I’ll see you on Thursday. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Biden was nominated on the second night of the Democratic national convention, almost six months after he won the South Carolina primary.

That proved a turning point that led to a string of victories after setbacks in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Democrats opened the evening with a collage of keynote speakers, each given just enough time to voice support for Biden and urge voters to turn out in droves to defeat Trump.

“Our choice is clear: a steady experienced public servant who can lead us out of this crisis just like he’s done before – or a man who only knows how to deny and distract,” said Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost a race for governor of Georgia in 2018.

“America needs Joe Biden.”

As on Monday, Democratic Party stalwarts tore into Trump’s temperament, his stewardship of the economy and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man,” former President Bill Clinton said in prerecorded remarks.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a star of the party’s progressive wing, also got to speak – but only for about 90 seconds, a limit her supporters have complained about.

Trump is portraying Biden as a captive of what he calls the party’s “Radical Leftists.”

In her speech seconding the nomination of Biden’s primary season opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez praised “fidelity and gratitude to a mass people’s movement working to establish a 21st century social, economic and human rights, including our guaranteed health care, higher education, living wages and labour rights for all people in the United States.”

Rather than the traditional convention keynote that can fuel one star’s rise – then-Arkansas Governor Clinton had the keynote in 1988 and spoke again Tuesday as a former two-term president – Biden’s team chose an array of Democrats to share the coveted duty on Tuesday.

All reflect his centre-left philosophy.

A video montage jump-cut from speakers in living rooms and an industrial-style building to the Navajo Nation.

“This year, all of us are on stage, and we’ve got a lot to say,” the keynoters said in unison, before participants counted off concerns about the coronavirus, unemployment and exhausted parents juggling work and child care.

The speakers included Representatives Colin Allred of Texas and Representative Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, both political moderates who flipped Republican seats after Trump was elected president.

Others were Biden supporters during the Democratic primary season: South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson, Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela and Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta.

The theme for the second night of the virtual convention was Leadership Matters, with speeches by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Clinton – his legendary verbosity constricted through a prerecorded address – and John Kerry, the former secretary of state and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

Kerry said Trump has failed to take action against Russia’s interference in US elections or to confront President Vladimir Putin over allegations that Russia put bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan.

“So he won’t defend our country,” Kerry said. “He doesn’t know how to defend our troops. The only person he’s interested in defending is himself.”

‘UNWAVERING FAITH’

In closing remarks from the classroom in Delaware, Jill Biden invoked the personal tragedies endured by the former vice president – who lost his first wife and young daughter in an auto accident and one of his grown sons to cancer “How do you make a broken family whole?” she asked.

“The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding – and with small acts of kindness. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

Joe Biden appeared to hug his wife and close the evening, saying, “You can see why she’s the love of my life, the rock of our family.”

On Wednesday, the party will hear from Biden’s vice presidential choice, Senator Kamala Harris.

On Thursday, Biden will close the convention by delivering his acceptance speech.

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