Senator Joe Biden targets President Trump as he accepts the nomination at the Democratic National Convention.
WASHINGTON – On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, an array of family members, former White House rivals and elected officials talked about Joe Biden’s character, portraying him as loyal, empathetic and a person of moral clarity.
While the prior three nights featured discussions of issues such as climate change and gun violence, Thursday focused on Biden’s faith, his family and the connections he’s made through decades as a U.S. senator followed by eight years as vice president to former President Barack Obama.
Speakers shared stories of the difference he’d made in their lives. There were repeated reminders to vote and jokes from actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the moderator for the evening whose quips drew mixed reviews on social media.
Biden’s pitch: ‘Is that the America you want?’
Biden used his acceptance speech to highlight his vision for dealing with the multiple challenges facing the country, including the pandemic, a recession and a national reckoning over racism. As speaker after speaker had done on the first three nights of the DNC, Biden attacked President Donald Trump’s record in handling these crises and said he was not up to the job.
“Character is on the ballot, compassion is on the ballot, decency, science, democracy. They’re all on the ballot,” Biden said. “Who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and, most importantly – who we want to be. That’s all on the ballot. The choice could not be more clear.”
Standing on a stage surrounded by flags in an empty convention hall, Biden criticized the president’s conduct and policies over his first term, including his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Just judge this president by the facts,” Biden said, before citing statistics on the virus’ spread in the U.S. and the jarring numbers of deaths, job losses and business closures.
“We lead the world in confirmed cases. We lead the world in deaths,” Biden said. “Our economy is in tatters, with Black, Latino, Asian American, and Native American communities bearing the brunt of it.”
“And after all this time, the president still does not have a plan,” he added.
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Biden accused Trump of having “cloaked America in darkness” using anger and fear. He said he would be “ally of the light” if elected.
He chronicled some of the president’s actions overseas and domestically, including the Trump’s reaction to the deadly white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, Va., when he said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
“Is that the America you want for you, for your family, your children?” Biden asked.
Boy who connected with Biden over stutter gives moving speech
One of the most memorable moments of the evening came with 13-year-old Brayden Harrington, who connected with Biden on the campaign trail in New Hampshire in February over their shared experience with a stutter.
“Without Joe Biden, I wouldn’t be talking to you today,” Brayden said, reading from a white sheet of paper where he typed out his speech, using the same method Biden used over the years to mark certain words and letters to make them easier to read.
Brayden Harrington, a 13-year-old who met Joe Biden in New Hampshire last year, shares his story about Biden’s advice on overcoming a stutter.
“I’m just a regular kid,” he said. “And in a short amount of time, Joe Biden made me feel more confident about something that’s bothered me my whole life.”
Biden has previously discussed his struggles with stuttering growing up, and said he practiced his speaking by reciting poems in the mirror.
Team of former rivals ribs each other and praises Biden
Former 2020 presidential candidates spoke to one another via virtual conference, in a show of unity between more progressive and moderate members of the party to both unite behind Biden and also poke a little fun.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Venture for America founder Andrew Yang were present on the call.
“Bernie, don’t you laugh, I have questions for you,” Sen. Cory Booker said during the call. “Why does my girlfriend like you more than she likes me?” he said, referring to actress Rosario Dawson’s public support for Sanders during the primary season.
“Because she’s smarter than you, isn’t that the obvious answer?” Sanders quipped back with a laugh.
The candidates spent a majority of the call promoting Biden’s character and outlining the moments with him that have stuck with them.
Klobuchar recalled one phone call in particular from Biden, after she gave a speech on the Senate floor.
“I wondered if my mom was even watching this on C-SPAN,” Klobuchar said. “And at that moment, the cellphone rings, and I actually thought maybe my mom was watching it. And you know what, it was Joe Biden – and that kind of goes to not only his kindness for calling me and being a mentor, but it also goes to how much he cares about our government.”
Hunter and Ashley Biden speak about their father
The convention featured a conversation between Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his daughter Ashley in which they appeared to finish each others’ sentences when discussing their dad, calling him “rock steady,” a “great father” and the “worst enemy any bully ever saw.”
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The segment ended with a clip of their late brother and Biden’s son – Beau Biden – calling Joe Biden a “hero” as he introduced the former vice president at the 2012 Democratic convention.
Hunter Biden became a controversial figure in politics after being thrust into the national spotlight last year when he became a central player in the Trump impeachment inquiry.
At the heart of the scandal were allegations Trump used the power of his office to push a foreign power to investigate Joe Biden and his ties to Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company. Hunter Biden had served on the board of Burisma.
Tribute to civil rights icon John Lewis
The convention aired a tribute to the late Rep. John Lewis, featuring interviews with the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
A video juxtaposed images of Lewis’ march across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama – which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – with photographs of Black Lives Matter protests occurring this year. Lewis suffered a fractured skull when he was beaten by a state trooper on the bridge.
“All of these decades later, while he and others of his generation achieved much, we’re still fighting against police brutality and fighting for our voting rights,” Rev. Raphael Warnock said. “And so we best honor him by fighting the fight that he fought.”
The video was followed by a performance by John Legend and Common, who performed their song “Glory,” written for the 2015 film Selma, which chronicled the now-iconic march.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Atlanta mayor who became a leading figure amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, prefaced the segment by encouraging viewers to vote.
“In his parting essay written to us, Congressman Lewis expressed his pride in the activism that has swept our country and he reminded us that if we fail to exercise our right to vote, we can lose it,” she said.
Bottoms also alluded to the Trump administration’s recent attacks on mail-in voting.
“There are those who are disgracefully using this pandemic to spread misinformation and interfere with voting,” she said.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Georgia’s largest city, delivers a message endorsing Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets mixed reviews for ‘Veep’ humor at DNC
Actress and comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus hosted the last night of the convention, offering a much different tone than the celebrity hosts over the last three nights.
The speeches, both somber and hopeful, were broken up by jokes and hot takes by Louis-Dreyfus, which left some on social media torn. The jokes, told to an empty studio without an audience, attacked Trump on a host of issues, from his golf games to the president’s photo op at a church across from the White House, which took place after police used tear gas and other irritants to clear peaceful protesters from the area.
Comedian Sarah Cooper appeared at the DNC’s convention, reviving her famous TikTok videos in which she imitates Donald Trump. After her comedy skit, where she copied Trump talking about mail-in ballots, Cooper urged all viewers to vote. (Aug. 20)
“Just remember: Joe Biden goes to church so regularly, that he doesn’t even need tear gas and a bunch of federalized troops to help him get there,” Louis-Dreyfus, who plays a vice president in HBO’s “Veep,” told convention watchers after an emotional segment chronicling Biden’s faith and how it guides his leadership.
After a segment on voting and its importance, Louis-Dreyfus said, “If we all vote there is nothing Facebook, Fox News or Vladimir Putin can do to stop us.”
Louis-Dreyfus wasn’t the only comedian to play a part in Thursday’s event. Comedian Sarah Cooper, who gained fame due to her viral lip-syncs of Trump’s remarks, did a lip-sync of some of Trump’s comments about mail-in voting then offered remarks about the importance of voting and accused Trump of trying to sway the election in his favor.
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