Former Vice President Joe Biden was poised to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday and seize the mantle of the party’s sizable challenge to oust President Trump.
With a speech expected to be equal parts a self-portrait and a call to arms, Biden was set to tell America that he is uniquely qualified to get the country back on its feet after four years of Trump’s chaotic rule.
The biggest speech of Biden’s five-decades in politics caps his third bid for the Democratic presidential nod.
Now the former vice president leads a unified Democratic Party into the two-month home stretch of the epic battle with Trump.
Biden, in a climax of the Democrats’ four-day online convention, will seek to tell Americans the story of how his working-class upbringing and a life tinged with tragedy have made him the best leader for a country in the grip of cascading and overlapping crises.
He will tout his ability to fight the coronavirus pandemic with data and science. He will vow to rescue the economy as he did alongside former President Barack Obama during the Great Recession in 2008. And he will promise to bring a calm presence back to the Oval Office.
Above all, Biden will tout himself as someone who understands Americans’ pain as they cope with the biggest threats to their personal well-being in years or perhaps decades.
“I knew that of all the incredible candidates we have across that platform, Joe Biden was the one who could unite us. From Harlem to the heartland, he was the one who could unite us,” U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Delaware congresswoman who is co-chair of Biden’s campaign said in a briefing before the festivities started.
Biden was set to get boosts on his big night from a parade of his former Democratic primary rivals, including former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur who made a surprise splash in the race, will also back Biden. So will Pete Buttigieg, the first major-party openly gay candidate, who helped engineer the shift in the primary by backing Biden after his win in the pivotal South Carolina primary.
“Every American must now decide,” Buttigieg said in prepared remarks. “Can America be a place where faith is about healing and not exclusion? Can we become a country that lives up to the truth that Black lives matter? Will we handle questions of science and medicine by turning to scientists and doctors? What will we do to make America into a land where no one who works full time can live in poverty?”
Biden’s grand finale speech will wrap up the first national political convention to be held virtually after Democrats moved early and firmly to scrap the in-person gathering over fears of coronavirus.
Even without the cheering crowds and funny hats, the new-look DNC mostly got positive reviews, with their biggest political stars mostly turning in supporting-role performances to Biden’s star turn.
Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama took dead aim at Trump as a failed leader. Hillary Clinton, the last standard-bearer, warned about the dangers of taking voters for granted.
Kamala Harris, the newly minted vice presidential nominee, made a soaring debut on the national political scene.
There were also more than a couple of viral moments including the Arizona woman who said her father died of COVID-19 because he had the “preexisting condition (of) believing Donald Trump” or the Rhode Island guys who showed off their signature fried calamari during the on-location travelogue-style roll call of states.
Officials announced that Biden’s controversial son, Hunter, would also speak on Thursday night.
Hunter Biden was the focus of a planned Republican smear campaign centered on his lucrative work for a Ukrainian natural gas firm. The supposed scandal boomeranged on Trump when he improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate the allegations, leading to his impeachment.
The Chicks (formally known as The Dixie Chicks), crooner John Legend, and rapper Common were set to lay down a progressive soundtrack on a night of unity that was music to the ears of Democrats still shell-shocked from their 2016 defeat.
Trump trolled Biden by giving a speech in Old Forge, Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon, near the blue-collar city of Scranton where his rival grew up.
Trump derided Biden as “Slow Joe,” a past-his-prime career politician who long ago abandoned his roots.
“He abandoned Scranton. He abandoned Pennsylvania,” Trump said. “He’s spent the last half-century selling out our country and giving away your jobs. He’s your worst nightmare.”
The president is counting on a repeat of 2016 in places like the Scranton area, where disaffected white working-class voters in the Rust Belt flocked to his appeals to racial and economic insecurity.