Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their presidential candidate Tuesday night, with party elders, a new generation of politicians and voters in every state joining together 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 was the realization of a long-sought goal. But it played out in a way that the 77-year-old 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.
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.”
The convention’s most highly anticipated moments will unfold on the next two nights. Kamala Harris will accept her nomination as 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.