Jill Biden will make the case for her husband Joe Biden to heal a pandemic-battered nation on Tuesday when Democrats formally nominate him to be their 2020 U.S. presidential candidate on the second night of the party’s national convention.
Democrats will turn to elder statesmen, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State John Kerry, to argue that Biden has the experience and knowledge to restore normalcy after what they characterize as the chaos of Donald Trump’s administration.
Tuesday’s theme was “Leadership Matters.”
The convention will showcase some of its rising politicians. But rather than a single keynote speech that could be a star-making turn, as it was for then-state Senator Barack Obama in 2004, the program will feature 17 stars in a video address, including Stacey Abrams, the one-time Georgia gubernatorial nominee whom Biden considered for a running mate.
As they did on Monday’s opening night, Democrats will feature a handful of Republicans who have crossed party lines to praise Biden, 77, over Trump, 74, ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Cindy McCain, widow of Republican Senator John McCain, will appear in a video talking about that Arizona Republican’s long friendship with Biden, according to a preview posted online. Trump clashed with McCain, who was the Republican nominee for president in 2008, and the president criticized McCain even after his 2018 death.
Republican former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed Biden in June, was one of several national security officials due to speak on the Democrat’s behalf.
Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will blast Trump’s foreign policy, telling reporters ahead of Tuesday night that the “United States is not the leader of the free world” under Trump.
Jill Biden, who also serves as one of Joe Biden’s closest political advisers, will speak from the classroom where she used to teach at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Delaware. She is now a community college English instructor who helped Biden craft his education policies and has said she plans to go on teaching even if her husband is elected.
With the four-day convention largely virtual due to the coronavirus, delegates from around the country will cast votes remotely to confirm Biden as the nominee.
Biden is scheduled to give his acceptance speech on Thursday. His vice presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris, will headline Wednesday night’s program along with Obama.
Without the cheering crowds at the in-person gathering originally planned for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, TV viewership was down from 2016. But an additional 10.2 million people watched on digital platforms, the Biden campaign said, for a total audience of nearly 30 million.
The convention was being held amid worries about the safety of in-person voting. Democrats have pushed mail-in ballots as an alternative and pressured the head of the U.S. Postal Service, a top Trump donor, to suspend cost cuts that delayed mail deliveries. Bowing to that pressure, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy put off the cost-cutting measures until after the election.
“At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos,” Clinton was expected to say, according to excerpts of speeches that organizers sent in advance.
Aiming to draw attention away from Biden, Trump, trailing in opinion polls, held a campaign rally in Arizona, a hotly contested battleground state that can swing to either party and play a decisive role in the election.
Hours before his speech, the president said a massive shift to mail-in voting could cause so many problems officials might have to hold another election, a far-fetched possibility given that a national U.S. election “re-do” has never occurred and Trump lacks the authority to order one.
Other Democratic speakers on Tuesday include U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading liberal figure known as AOC, and Sally Yates, the former acting U.S. attorney general who clashed with Trump during her brief tenure overseeing the Justice Department.
The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week. Trump will give his acceptance speech at the White House, despite criticism he is politicizing the presidential residence.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Katanga Johnson and Alexandra Alper in Washington, Michael Martina in Detroit, and Trevor Hunnicutt in Wilmington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Howard Goller)
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