Democrats Nominate Biden As 2020 Presidential Candidate
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their presidential candidate Tuesday night, with party elders, a new generation of politicians and voters in every state joining together in a pandemic-cramped virtual convention to send him into the general election against President Donald Trump.
Instead of a Milwaukee convention hall as initially planned, the roll call of convention delegates played out in a combination of live and recorded video feeds from American landmarks packed with meaning: Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, a Puerto Rican community still recovering from a hurricane and Washington’s Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Biden celebrated his new status as the Democratic nominee alongside his wife and grandchildren in a Delaware school library. His wife of more than 40 years, Jill Biden, later spoke of her husband in deeply personal terms, reintroducing the lifelong politician as a man of deep empathy, faith and resilience to American voters less than three months before votes are counted.
“There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it — how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going,” she said. “But I’ve always understood why he did it. He does it for you.”
The convention’s most highly anticipated moments will unfold on the next two nights. Kamala Harris will accept her nomination as Biden’s running mate on Wednesday, the first Black woman to join a major party ticket. Former President Barack Obama will also speak.
Biden will deliver his acceptance speech Thursday night in a mostly empty convention hall near his Delaware home.
Biden used the second night of the four-day convention to feature a mix of party elders, Republican as well as Democratic.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made a brief appearance.
Biden has the support of a sprawling political coalition, as demonstrated again during Tuesday’s convention, although neither history nor enthusiasm is on his side.
Just one incumbent president has been defeated since 1992. And Biden’s supporters consistently report that they’re motivated more by opposition to Trump than excitement about Biden.
A collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine. But overall, there was little room on Tuesday’s program for the younger stars of the party’s far-left wing.
“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.
For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.
Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, endorsed the Democratic candidate. He joined the wife of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who stopped short of a formal endorsement but spoke in a video of the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.
While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.
The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.
Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.
Biden’s team did not give the night’s coveted keynote address to a single fresh face, preferring instead to pack the slot with more than a dozen Democrats in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The younger leaders included Abrams, Rep. Conor Lamb., D-Pa., and the president of the Navajo Nation Jonathan Nez.
It remains to be seen whether the unconventional convention will give Biden the momentum he’s looking for.
Preliminary estimates show that television viewership for the first night of the virtual convention was down compared with the opening of Hillary Clinton’s onsite nominating party four years ago.
An estimated 18.7 million people watched coverage between 10 and 11 p.m. on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, the Nielsen company said. Four years ago, the opening night drew just under 26 million viewers.
Biden’s campaign said an additional 10.2 million streamed the convention online Monday night.
“We are producing a digital convention, and people are watching,” Biden spokesman T.J. Ducklo tweeted.
Price reported from Las Vegas and Peoples reported from New York. AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace contributed to this report.
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