U.S. Democrats officially nominated former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday to be their candidate in the November presidential election on another evening in which prominent Republicans joined with Democrats in criticizing President Donald Trump while praising Biden’s leadership skills.
Biden had been the party’s presumptive nominee for months after outlasting a crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls in state-by-state primary and caucus votes, including his closest rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
On the second night of the Democratic National Convention, the traditional roll call vote of states officially picking the party nominee featured representatives speaking from their states and territories pledging their support for Biden as he now runs against Trump, a Republican.
Biden said the nomination “means the world to me and my family, and I’ll see you on Thursday,” looking ahead to his speech accepting the nomination on the final night of the convention.
As Democrats gathered virtually, Trump traveled Tuesday to two key battleground states, Iowa and Arizona, and sought to curry favor with women voters with a pardon earlier in the day of women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony who protested during the 1870s and was convicted of voting illegally because she was a woman.
'Finding mercy and grace'
Biden’s wife, Jill, said that if elected, her husband would bring to the White House “leadership worthy of our nation” at the time of an historic coronavirus pandemic and economic depression.
“There are those who want to tell us that our country is hopelessly divided, that our differences are irreconcilable. But that’s not what I’ve seen over these months,” Jill Biden said as she gave the final remarks of the night. “We’re coming together and holding onto each other. We’re finding mercy and grace in the moments we might have once taken for granted. We’re seeing that our differences are precious and our similarities infinite.
“The burdens we carry are heavy and we need someone with strong shoulders,” she said. “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.”
“We have shown that the heart of this nation still beats with kindness and courage. That’s the soul of America Joe Biden is fighting for now,” she said, delivering her speech from a classroom in the high school where she once taught in Wilmington, Delaware.
Jill Biden has played an active, behind-the-scenes role in her husband’s third run for the presidency over three decades. Aides say she offered her thoughts on his choice of a vice presidential running mate before he chose California Senator Kamala Harris last week, making Harris the first Black woman and South Asian American to be picked for a spot on a national U.S. political ticket.
Harris is set to give her convention acceptance speech Wednesday, along with remarks from former President Barack Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who served in the Obama-Biden administration, used his speech Tuesday night to portray Trump’s foreign policy as a failure.
“When this president goes overseas, it isn’t a goodwill mission, it’s a blooper reel. He breaks up with our allies and writes love letters to dictators. America deserves a president who is looked up to, not laughed at,” Kerry said.
Kerry added that Biden understands that the problems facing the world, including the coronavirus, terrorism and climate change, cannot be resolved “without bringing nations together with strength and humility.”
Another former secretary of State, Republican Colin Powell, said, “Today, we are a country divided, and we have a president doing everything in his power to make it that way and keep us that way. What a difference it will make to have a president who unites us, who restores our strength and our soul.”
Cindy McCain, the widow of Republican Arizona Senator John McCain, narrated a touching video of her husband’s longtime friendship with Biden, even though they often disagreed on the policy issues of the moment during their years serving in the U.S. Senate.
Democrats have often cited Biden's friendship with the 2008 Republican presidential nominee as a sign of his ability to earn respect from lawmakers across the political divide in Washingtgon. Trump ridiculed McCain toward the end of his life, mocking the fact that as a naval aviator McCain was shot down over Vietnam and was a prisoner of war in the 1960s.
Times of crisis
Former President Bill Clinton criticized Trump’s leadership, particularly in times of crisis.
“At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos,” Clinton said. “Now you have to decide whether to renew his contract or hire someone else.
“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. Denying, distracting, and demeaning works great if you’re trying to entertain and inflame. But in a real crisis, it collapses like a house of cards,” the former president said.
WATCH: Biden DNC Pick
Next week, Trump is set to officially accept his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are making campaign stops during Biden’s week in the spotlight, traveling to political battleground states that could play a pivotal role in the election.
Trump headed to the Midwestern state of Iowa on Tuesday and later visited Yuma, Arizona, near the border with Mexico to assess the construction of a border wall to thwart undocumented immigrants from crossing into the United States. The issue was a major plank of his successful 2016 run for the presidency.
On Thursday, Trump plans to visit a site near Biden’s boyhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania.