Las Vegas, New York, and Wilmington, Del.
Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their presidential candidate, with party elders, a new generation of politicians, and voters in every state joining in an extraordinary, pandemic-cramped virtual convention to send him into the general election campaign to oust President Donald Trump.
For someone who has spent more than three decades eyeing the presidency, the moment Tuesday night was the realization of a long-sought goal. But it occurred in a way that Mr. Biden couldn’t have imagined just months ago as the coronavirus pandemic prompted profound change across the country and in his presidential campaign.
Instead of a Milwaukee convention hall as initially planned, the roll call of convention delegates played out in a combination of live and recorded video feeds from American landmarks packed with meaning: Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, a Puerto Rican community still recovering from a hurricane, and Washington’s Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Mr. Biden celebrated his new status as the Democratic nominee alongside his wife and grandchildren in a Delaware school library. His wife of more than 40 years, Jill Biden, later spoke of her husband in deeply personal terms, reintroducing the lifelong politician as a man of deep empathy, faith, and resilience to American voters less than three months before votes are counted.
“There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it – how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going,” she said. “But I’ve always understood why he did it. He does it for you.”
Speaking Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show, Jill Biden said her husband is up for the job of president and called a Trump campaign ad questioning his mental fitness “ridiculous.”
“Joe’s on the phone every single minute of the day talking to governors who are calling him and Nancy Pelosi. He’s on the Zoom. He’s doing fundraisers. He’s doing briefings,” she said. “I mean he doesn’t stop from 9 in the morning till 11 at night. That’s ridiculous.”
The convention’s most highly anticipated moments will unfold on the next two nights. Kamala Harris will accept her nomination as Mr. Biden’s running mate on Wednesday, the first Black woman to join a major party ticket. Former President Barack Obama will also speak as part of his stepped-up efforts to defeat his successor.
Mr. Biden will deliver his acceptance speech Thursday night in a mostly empty convention hall near his Delaware home.
Mr. Biden used the second night of the four-day convention to feature a mix of party elders, Republican as well as Democratic, to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Mr. Trump has created at home and abroad.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry – and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell – were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter also made a brief appearance.
Some of them delivered attacks against Mr. Trump that were unusually personal, all in an effort to establish Mr. Biden as the competent, moral counter to the Republican president.
“Donald Trump inherited a growing economy and a more peaceful world,” Mr. Kerry said. “And like everything else he inherited, he bankrupted it. When this president goes oversees it isn’t a goodwill mission. It’s a blooper reel.”
Mr. Clinton said Mr. Trump’s Oval Office is a place of chaos, not a command center.
“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,” Mr. Clinton said.
For his part, Mr. Trump spent Tuesday courting battleground voters in an effort to distract from Mr. Biden’s convention. Appearing in Arizona near the Mexican border during the day, the Republican president claimed a Biden presidency would trigger “a flood of illegal immigration like the world has never seen.”
Such divisive rhetoric, which is not supported by Mr. Biden’s positions, has become a hallmark of Mr. Trump’s presidency, which has inflamed tensions at home and alienated allies around the world.