WASHINGTON - An array of U.S. Democratic luminaries, topped by former President Barack Obama and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, are making the case to Americans Wednesday night at the virtual Democratic National Convention to elect former Vice President Joe Biden as president in the November 3 election.
For two nights, a host of Biden supporters, including prominent Republicans who have turned against President Donald Trump, have voiced their support for the 77-year-old Democrat while condemning Trump’s White House tenure as chaotic and erratic.
More attacks on Trump can be expected on the third night of the convention, with Democrats trying to convince the U.S. electorate it made a mistake in electing the real-estate-baron-turned-politician in 2016 and that Biden would bring a new sense of civility to U.S. political life and engagement with allies overseas.
The 55-year-old Harris, one of two dozen Democrats who sought the party’s presidential nomination but lost to Biden, will be making her most significant national political address after serving for years as a prosecutor in the western state of California before winning a Senate seat in 2016.
Biden tapped her as his running mate last week after months ago promising to pick a woman to join his quest to oust Trump and Vice President Mike Pence after a single four-year term. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, is the first Black and first South Asian American to join a major U.S. party’s national ticket.
She will be speaking from Biden’s home state of Delaware, as he will be Thursday night when he accepts the party’s presidential nomination in his third run for the presidency over three decades.
Biden served as Obama’s vice president for eight years before Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Obama refrained from voicing a preference for a Democratic presidential nominee in the long string of 2020 Democratic primaries and caucuses that led to Biden’s eventual victory.
For a large part of Trump’s presidency, Obama also refused to offer rejoinders to his successor’s frequent Twitter attacks on him. But that changed as Biden won the nomination, with Obama forcefully declaring his support for his former second in command and criticizing Trump.
Obama, the first Black U.S. president, has raised money for Biden’s campaign at virtual gatherings with wealthy donors. But appearances at political rallies with Biden in the coming weeks before the election would appear unlikely for a simple reason: Biden has dropped such large-scale gatherings on the advice of medical experts worried about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
To date, Biden has mostly campaigned from Delaware, although occasionally appearing at small gatherings in the nearby large city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
Other key Democrats are set to make the case for Biden on Wednesday night, including Clinton, who won nearly 3 million more votes than Trump in 2016 but lost the election in the country’s Electoral College, the indirect U.S. system of democracy in which the overall outcome is determined by the winners of each of the 50 states.
Two other vocal Trump critics are also set to speak: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, and progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who also sought the Democratic presidential nomination and was on Biden’s short list as a possible running mate.
Participants in the convention, conducted virtually after the national party all but closed down its planned gathering in the Midwestern city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for fear of spreading the coronavirus, officially nominated Biden for the presidency on Tuesday.
Biden said the nomination “means the world to me and my family, and I’ll see you on Thursday,” looking ahead to his acceptance speech on the final night of the convention.
Biden’s wife, Jill, a college English professor, spoke to the convention delegates and the American public from an empty high school classroom where she once taught.
She said her husband of 43 years would bring to the White House “leadership worthy of our nation.”
“The burdens we carry are heavy and we need someone with strong shoulders,” she said of the coronavirus pandemic and economic turmoil in which millions of U.S. workers have lost their jobs. “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.”
Trump has been attempting to upstage Biden’s week in the political spotlight, traveling to several political battleground states.
On Thursday, he is visiting near Biden’s boyhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Republican are staging their virtual national convention next week, starting Monday and culminating with Trump’s renomination acceptance speech at the White House on August 27.