Joe Biden will deliver the most important speech of his almost half-century political career as he accepts the Democratic nomination for president Thursday, aiming to persuade a pandemic-weary nation to replace Donald Trump in the White House.
The former vice president will cap off the final night of the Democratic National Convention with his acceptance speech, delivered in a largely empty room at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, rather than a packed hall with a balloon drop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Biden’s speech will set the tone for a bruising general election battle against Trump and test his ability to connect with voters in the virtual format. He will “lay out his positive vision for the country and reaffirm his core belief that we can unite this country, even in these divisive times,” Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield told reporters in a conference call Thursday.
Democrats have spent three nights mixing blunt criticism of Trump as an incompetent and corrupt threat to democracy with reassuring promises that Biden, 77, has the decency and experience to tackle the pandemic and other difficult problems. They’ve also sought to portray the party’s moderate and liberal wings as largely unified, burying progressive concerns that Biden is too much of an establishment centrist.
Speaker after speaker, including former President Barack Obama, also have encouraged Americans to vote early and have a plan to cast their ballot, in anticipation of potential mail delays and long, socially distanced lines at physical polling stations. The vice presidential nominee, California Senator Kamala Harris, warned viewers on Wednesday that Republicans seek to suppress the vote in the belief that high turnout would benefit Biden.
A record number of Americans are expected to cast mail-in ballots this year because of the pandemic. Democrats have accused Trump oftrying to sabotage theU.S. Postal Service to help his re-election bid, while the president has already begun to try to sow public doubt about any outcome that results in a Biden victory.
Hosted by actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Thursday night’s program theme is “America’s Promise,” touting Biden’s decades of public service and featuring people who can “speak to Joe Biden’s leadership and character,” according to the DNC.
Scheduled speakers include former Biden competitors for the party’s nomination: Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.
Also expected to speak are Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, all considered as possible Biden running mates, as well as Senator Chris Coons of Biden’s home state of Delaware.
Biden will be introduced by his children and grandchildren, including his son, Hunter Biden, who was targeted by Trump during the impeachment for his work for a Ukrainian gas company while Biden was vice president. His presence signals that Biden is unconcerned with Trump’s reaction to his appearance.
Harris made history on Wednesday night by becoming the first Black and Indian-American woman to be nominated for the vice presidency withan acceptance speech meant to re-introduce her to the country and help make the case against Trump.
The entertainment on Thursday night includes The Chicks — formerly the Dixie Chicks before the protests following the death of George Floyd. They are performing the National Anthem.
Trump, who has been live-tweeting criticism during keynote speeches and staging counter-programing — including a trip near Biden’s boyhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Thursday — gets the chance to make his case for re-election during the Republican National Convention starting on Monday.
The president and other Republicans have mocked Biden’s recent verbal missteps, suggesting his mental acuity has slipped with age. But Biden supporters argue that his oratory skills are often discounted and that he’s delivered when he must, including during his vice presidential debates against Sarah Palin in 2008 and Paul Ryan in 2012.
“He’s not Barack Obama, he’s not Michelle Obama, he’s not Bill Clinton, he’s not even Hillary Clinton,” said Patti Solis Doyle, Biden’s 2008 campaign chief of staff. “But he is very good when he speaks about the things that he cares about and that’s predominantly his family, his mother, his father, his upbringing.”
— With assistance by Emma Kinery
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