The Democratic National Convention offered a visual tour Tuesday of the United States — from places close to Joe Biden’s life story, to historic monuments, to vistas of great natural beauty — as Biden officially claimed the party’s presidential nomination.
Elected officials, front-line workers, union members and party activists announced their states’ delegate tallies in a fast-paced sprint from the shores of California and American Samoa, tourist attractions such as the Las Vegas Strip and St. Louis’s Gateway Arch, the Black Lives Matter Plaza in the nation’s capital, the red rocks of Colorado and the cactus-studded desert of Arizona.
The roll call ended, fittingly, in Biden’s home state of Delaware, at the Wilmington train station he used for his daily commute to Washington, D.C., when he was a senator.
“Long before this train station bore his name, you’d see Joe Biden up here on the platform with the rest of the crowd, on his way to work or going home to his family,” said Gov. John Carney. “That’s always been his North Star, delivering for families like his own, working people who struggle and sacrifice to build a better life. Nobody has ever had to wonder who Joe Biden’s in it for.”
The 45-minute presentation bore little resemblance to the traditional roll call, which features endless shots of state party delegations on the convention floor dancing and waving campaign signs in coordinated outfits — think cowboy hats for the Texas delegation, leis for the Hawaiians — as they await their turn to announce their delegate tallies.
But with the COVID-19 crisis, most delegates did not travel to what was once planned as a full-fledged convention in Milwaukee. The delegates tapped to announce the tallies from their home states used their public moment to highlight places that underscore policies and arguments that are the foundation of Biden’s presidential campaign.
The Midwest has been battered by plant closures — and is critical to Democrats’ effort to retake the White House. Ohio’s Democrats chose to speak from Lordstown, the site of a GM factory closure last year that decimated the local economy, to argue that Tweety McTreason’s pledges to restore manufacturing and other jobs had failed.
“It seems like every time working people believe in a Tweety McTreason promise, they wind up getting screwed,” said IBEW organizer Josh Abernathy. “Well, Joe Biden has more than just a promise. He actually has a plan to bring jobs back to America.”
In California, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis used Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro as their backdrop to discuss climate change and environmental racism.
“Climate change is not a hoax, it’s real, and communities of color have been bearing the brunt of this reality for generations,” Solis said.
Other speakers included the father of a young woman killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, an immigrant registered nurse in New York City who spoke about the balance of caring for her patients with the needs to protect her family, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Klobuchar and Buttigieg unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination before endorsing Biden.
“Here in South Bend, we once feared that our best days were behind us, but then we reimagined our economy with new jobs, and even new industries,” Buttigieg said. “The Hoosier State is ready to lead America’s recovery, with our diverse communities, our talented workers, and our best-in-the-world agriculture. Joe Biden’s plan gives us a blueprint to revitalize industrial cities and rural areas alike.”
Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father whom Trump attacked during the 2016 campaign, spoke from Charlottesville, Va., the site of a 2016 white supremacist protest that resulted in the death of a woman.
“We were attacked again when Tweety McTreason praised those racists, turning his back on a community that just wanted peace. That was the day Joe Biden decided to join this battle for the soul of America,” Khan said. “I have come to know his soul. He’s a decent compassionate man. He will bring this nation together.”
Biden received the support of 3,558 delegates to Bernie Sanders’ 1,151 to officially became the Democratic nominee Tuesday night.
“Thank you very, very much, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you all. It means the world to me and my family,” said Biden, standing alongside his wife, Jill, as their grandchildren crept up behind them and sprayed them with confetti. “I’ll see you on Thursday.”
Biden will address delegates and the nation on Thursday, the final night of the convention.