The second night of the DNC opened with a 17-person “keynote” speech, interspersing clips of a diverse set of the party’s rising stars.
And it all worked, much better than the long-drawn out typical convention that lasts all day. Here are the night’s highlights in brief, in case you missed it:
- Roll call vote for Biden’s nomination, each state cast their vote in short videos from firehouses, geographic landmarks, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama, and the Amtrak station named after Biden in Delaware.
- A series of biographical videos kept the focus on Biden’s character.
- Some Democratic stars, like Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, got shorter speaking slots but overall this updated format was effective.
- In a moving moment, the parents of Matthew Shepard, the gay man who was beaten and left to die in 1998, in Wyoming were featured.
- New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke about a country in moral crisis, millions of its citizens going without health care in the midst of a pandemic. AOC, who spoke for just 90 seconds, dedicated her time to addressing “a mass people’s movement“. She also formally seconded the nomination of Bernie Sanders for president — a nod to the delegates Sanders won in the primaries.
- The most notable Republican presence was Cindy McCain, the widow of 2008 Republican nominee John McCain. McCain did not mention Trump y name nor endorse Biden explicitly, but her participation in a video that heralded the friendship between the former vice president and Arizona senator spoke volumes.
“They would just sit and joke. It was like a comedy show, sometimes, to watch the two of them.”
- Former secretary of state Colin Powell, who served under George W. Bush, endorsed Biden, arguing that the country needs to “restore” the values he believes America stands for and that Trump doesn’t represent.
- Bill Clinton got a good five-minute slot delivering a pointed denunciation of Trump and his years in office, casting him as a chaotic “storm” in the White House
“It’s Trump’s ‘Us vs. Them’ America against Joe Biden’s America, where we all live and work together. It’s a clear choice. And the future of our country is riding on it.”
- Activist Ady Barkan confronted former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake on a plane, en route home from Washington, pleading for him to vote against the 2017 Republican tax cuts. Barkan was diagnosed with ALS shortly after the 2016 election, spoke with the aid of a computer about a “dehumanizing” health care system that has humiliated him and millions of other Americans, including those who are suffering through the pandemic without insurance.
“Each of us must be a hero for our communities, for our country, and then, with a compassionate and intelligent president, we must act together and put on his desk a bill that guarantees us all the health care we deserve.”
- Long-time educator, Jill Biden, closed the night with a speech from a Delaware high school classroom that connected the struggles students and parents face now with her husband’s resolve in the face of personal tragedy. Jill didn’t mention Trump at all. She emphasized that he understood and cared about the pain many are facing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding, and with small acts of compassion; with bravery; with unwavering faith.”
As she ended, she pledged that
“these classrooms will ring out with laughter and possibility once again.”
- In maybe the most memorable moment, Jacquelyn Asbie, the New York Times security guard who when, in an elevator with Biden said, “I love you” officially nominated Biden to become the Democratic Party’s candidate for president.
“In the short time I spent with Joe Biden, I could tell he really saw me, that he actually cared, that my life meant something to him. And I knew, even when he went into his important meeting, he’d take my story in there with him.
That’s because Joe Biden has room in his heart for more than just himself.”