The most unusual political convention to date is underway—the Democrats' all-virtual affair leading to the coronation of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Thursday night. Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders spoke Monday night, along with a rarity—a Republican, former Ohio governor (and 2016 presidential candidate) John Kasich, who attempted to appeal to disenfranchised members of his party. For future nights, live-streams are easy to find, including at the convention's official website. From night one, some early highlights courtesy of the AP:
- Michelle Obama: Biden was a "terrific vice president" and is a "profoundly decent man,” she said. “He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic, and lead our country.” Of Trump, she added, "If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election." The AP calls her speech, which also referred to Trump as being "in over his head," "uncharacteristically pointed and political." Her plea to Americans: "Vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it."
- Kasich: He said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.” Elaborating: “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats' convention. "We can do better than what we’ve been seeing today, for sure. ... Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.” He also noted he does not believe Biden will turn "sharp left."
- Bernie Sanders: "My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake." He called on his progressive base to rally around Biden. "Our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered ‘radical,’ are now mainstream. But, let us be clear, if Donald Trump is reelected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy." The AP notes his speech was an "unqualified endorsement" of Biden, in contrast to his speech at Hillary Clinton's nominating convention in 2016.
- George Floyd's siblings: Philonise and Rodney Floyd led a moment of silence in honor of the Minnesota Black man killed by police.
- Plus a bunch more: A lot more Democrats, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke, plus three more Republicans who back Biden: California businesswoman Meg Whitman, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman, and former New York Congresswoman Susan Molinari. "This isn’t about Republican or Democrat. It’s about a person—a person decent enough, stable enough, strong enough to get our economy back on track,” said Whitman. "Donald Trump isn’t that person. Joe Biden is.”
- Virtual enthusiasm: Convention organizers tried to infuse a sense of excitement into the virtual event, getting actress Eva Longoria to emcee and airing several live speeches, though many of Monday night's were pre-recorded. They also organized online watch parties that included celebrities and elected officials, and hosted drive-in viewing stations where people could watch the speeches from their cars.
- Others who popped in: Americans whose lives have been impacted by Trump's policies and practices, including a farmer concerned he will lose his livelihood and a woman whose 65-year-old father died of COVID-19, came on to frame the speakers. "His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life," said the grieving daughter.
- Meanwhile: Trump was holding his own rally in Wisconsin, where the DNC was originally scheduled to be held before it went virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic. He told the crowd, per Rolling Stone, "We are going to win four more years. And then after that, we’ll go for another four years because they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years." The magazine notes the FBI has refuted that claim about 2016. "The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged," Trump added.
- And also: The president, who also appeared in Minnesota Monday night, went on a tweetstorm as the DNC's opening night was drawing to a close; he retweeted quite a few less-than-flattering takes on Cuomo's appearance in particular.
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