WILMINGTON, Del. (NewsNation) — The Democrats’ historic boundary breakers joined forces at the party’s national convention Wednesday night as Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the vice presidential nominee.
Their overriding message: Vote this time; don’t just be sorry and complain later.
Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, and Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by a major party, spoke on Biden’s behalf. And Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate and the first Black woman on a major party ticket, delivered highly anticipated remarks that will serve as her first introduction to millions of voters.
American democracy might not survive another four years of Trump, Obama warns in excerpts released in advance. He urges voters to “embrace your own responsibility as citizens – to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure. Because that’s what is at stake right now. Our democracy.”
In his remarks Obama declared, “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”
Clinton looked back at her 2016 loss to Trump and says that by now it must be clear that American lives and livelihoods are at risk.
“For four years, people have said to me, ‘I didn’t realize how dangerous he was.’ ‘I wish I could go back and do it over.’ Or worst, ‘I should have voted,’” she says. “Well, this can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.”
Just 76 days before the election, voters in both parties are as engaged as they have ever been, even while battling the coronavirus pandemic that has left more than 172,000 dead. Having formally been nominated by their party, the Biden-Harris ticket is now the Democrats’ best and only hope to deny Trump a second term.
The pandemic has forced Biden’s team to abandon the traditional convention format in favor of an all-virtual affair that has eliminated much of the pomp and circumstance that typically defines political conventions. It’s also produced opportunities to create new traditions.
The Democratic convention will build to a finale Thursday night when Biden will deliver his acceptance speech in a mostly empty convention hall near his Delaware home.
Obama, who remains perhaps the biggest star in the Democratic Party, will deliver a live address. He hopes to serve as a bridge between those reassured by Biden’s lengthy resume and more moderate record, and a younger generation of Democrats agitating for more dramatic change.
Obama called Biden his “brother.” He also decried the Trump presidency in a rare public rebuke from one president to his successor.
“I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president,” Obama said. “I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.”
It remains to be seen whether the unconventional convention will give Biden the momentum he’s looking for.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.