Democrats formally nominated former vice-president Joe Biden for the presidency on Tuesday, the second night of their virtual convention.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the night:
Biden was formally nominated for president with an impressive virtual roll call vote. In 2016, about 50,000 people attended the Democratic convention. But because Democrats are not able to meet in person in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this week due to the coronavirus pandemic, each delegation filmed a video to cast their votes for president. The videos provided a vibrant visualization of every region in the country, and the well-received presentation raised the possibility that future conventions could retain certain elements of this year’s virtual event.
Jill Biden offered a personal case for the election of her husband. The Biden campaign produced a moving video recounting how Jill Biden met her future husband shortly after his first wife and his young daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972. Tragedy visited the Bidens again when their eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer at age 46 five years ago. Jill Biden argued that her husband’s continued commitment to public service, despite these devastating losses, underscored how he would lead the country through this moment of crisis. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole,” she said. “With love and understanding – and with small acts of kindness. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”
It was an emotional night, with many moments tugging on viewers’ heartstrings. In addition to the Bidens recounting the loss of their family members, progressive activist Ady Barkan, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), made an emotional plea for expanding access to quality healthcare and described Donald Trump’s potential re-election as an “existential threat”. “We live in the richest country in history and yet we do not guarantee this most basic human right,” Barkan said. “Everyone living in America should get the healthcare they need regardless of their employment status or ability to pay.” The Biden campaign also produced a video focused on Biden’s friendship with longtime Republican senator John McCain, who died of brain cancer two years ago.
Democrats continued their theme of highlighting Republican endorsements of Biden. Former secretary of state Colin Powell and former defense secretary Chuck Hagel both praised Biden as a leader with the necessary skills to guide the country through a global pandemic and move past the divisions of Trump’s presidency. “What a difference it will make to have a president who unites us, who restores our strength and our soul,” Powell said. The endorsements were the latest effort by the Biden camp to appeal to centrist voters who voted for Barack Obama but flipped to supporting Trump in 2016.
The New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a short nominating speech for the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, sparking some confusion on social media. By the rules of the convention, each candidate who passes a certain delegate threshold are required to be nominated and included in the roll call vote. However, some Twitter users appeared to incorrectly believe the progressive congresswoman was trying to snub Biden by endorsing Sanders, prompting Ocasio-Cortez herself to clear up the confusion. Lesson learned: explaining complicated convention rules over Twitter is quite the headache.