MORE DEMO­CRATIC CON­VEN­TION COV­ER­AGE, PLUS LYNN SWEET AND NEIL STEIN­BERG,

Bi­den for­mally nom­i­nated as Jill Bi­den, Bill Clin­ton, Carter, Pow­ell speak at con­ven­tion

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEVE PEO­PLES AND MICHELLE L. PRICE

NEW YORK — Democrats for­mally nom­i­nated Joe Bi­den as their can­di­date for pres­i­dent 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 Bi­den, who has spent more than three decades eye­ing the pres­i­dency, the mo­ment was the re­al­iza­tion of a long-sought per­sonal goal. But it played out in a way that the 77-year-old Bi­den couldn’t have imag­ined just months ago as the coro­n­avirus prompted pro­found change across the coun­try and the 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.

Bi­den cel­e­brated his new place in his­tory along­side his wife and grand­chil­dren in a Delaware school li­brary in the midst of the mostly on­line con­ven­tion. His wife of more than 40 years, Jill Bi­den, later spoke in her prime-time ap­pear­ance in deeply per­sonal terms, rein­tro­duc­ing the life­long politi­cian as a man of deep em­pa­thy, faith and re­silience to Amer­i­can vot­ers just 77 days 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.”

Bi­den has the sup­port of a sprawl­ing po­lit­i­cal coali­tion, as demon­strated again dur­ing Tues­day’s con­ven­tion, al­though nei­ther his­tory nor en­thu­si­asm is on his side.

Just one in­cum­bent pres­i­dent has been de­feated in the last four decades. And Bi­den’s sup­port­ers con­sis­tently report that they’re mo­ti­vated more by op­po­si­tion to Trump than ex­cite­ment about Bi­den, a life­long politi­cian who would be the old­est pres­i­dent ever elected. That deficit could hurt turnout among less con­sis­tent vot­ers, par­tic­u­larly mi­nori­ties and younger vot­ers, whom Bi­den needs to show up in great num­bers this fall.

Bi­den used the sec­ond night of the four-day con­ven­tion to fea­ture a mix of party el­ders from both par­ties to make the case that he has the ex­pe­ri­ence and en­ergy to re­pair chaos that Trump has cre­ated at home and abroad.

Former Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and former Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry — and former Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Colin Pow­ell — were among the heavy hit­ters on a sched­ule that em­pha­sized a sim­ple theme: Lead­er­ship mat­ters. Former Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made a brief ap­pear­ance.

“Don­ald Trump says we’re lead­ing the world. Well, we are the only ma­jor in­dus­trial econ­omy to have its un­em­ploy­ment rate triple,” Clin­ton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Of­fice should be a com­mand cen­ter. In­stead, it’s a storm cen­ter. There’s only chaos.”

In the open­ing of the con­ven­tion’s sec­ond night, a col­lec­tion of younger Democrats, in­clud­ing former Ge­or­gia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, were given a few min­utes to shine. But over­all, there was lit­tle room on Tues­day’s pro­gram for the younger stars of the party’s far-left wing.

“In a democ­racy, we do not elect sav­iors. We cast our bal­lots for those who see our strug­gles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a na­tional player dur­ing her un­suc­cess­ful bid for gover­nor in 2018 and was among those con­sid­ered to be Bi­den’s run­ning mate.

She added: “Faced with a pres­i­dent of cow­ardice, Joe Bi­den is a man of proven courage.”

Bi­den will for­mally ac­cept the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion in­side a mostly empty Delaware con­ven­tion hall on Thurs­day. His run­ning mate, Cal­i­for­nia Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris, will be­come the first woman of color to ac­cept a ma­jor party’s vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion on Wed­nes­day.

Un­til then, Bi­den is pre­sent­ing what he sees as the best of his sprawl­ing coali­tion to the Amer­i­can elec­torate. There is no live au­di­ence for any of the speak­ers, who have so far de­liv­ered their re­marks standing or seated alone in mostly pre­re­corded videos.

For a sec­ond night, the Democrats featured Repub­li­cans.

Pow­ell, who served as sec­re­tary of state un­der Ge­orge W. Bush and ap­peared at mul­ti­ple Repub­li­can con­ven­tions in years past, was en­dors­ing the Demo­cratic can­di­date. In a video re­leased ahead of his speech, he said, “Our coun­try needs a com­man­der in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own fam­ily. For Joe Bi­den, that doesn’t need teach­ing.”

Pre­lim­i­nary es­ti­mates show that tele­vi­sion view­er­ship for the first night of the vir­tual con­ven­tion was down com­pared with the open­ing of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s on­site nom­i­nat­ing party four years ago.

An es­ti­mated 18.7 mil­lion peo­ple watched cov­er­age be­tween 10 and 11 p.m. on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Chan­nel and MSNBC, the Nielsen com­pany said. Four years ago, the open­ing night drew just un­der 26 mil­lion view­ers.

Bi­den’s cam­paign said an ad­di­tional 10.2 mil­lion streamed the con­ven­tion on­line Mon­day night.

DNCC VIA GETTY IM­AGES

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den with wife Dr. Jill Bi­den in a class­room after she ad­dressed the vir­tual con­ven­tion.

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