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Hey there. It's the NPR Politics podcast, I'm Tamara Keith. I cover the White House. I'm Danielle Kurtz live and I cover politics. And I'm Juana Summers. I cover demographics and culture.
The time now is 11 thirty five p.m. on Tuesday, August 18th. And Joe Biden is now officially the Democratic nominee for president.
So thank you to all our delegations. I'm pleased to announce that Vice President Joe Biden has officially been nominated by the Democratic Party as our candidate for president of the United States.
And this might be a moment when in a non virtual convention, balloons would fall from the sky and it would be so fun to watch the balloons. And instead, it was like Joe Biden in a in a library, maybe with his family and a bouquet of balloons.
You could either call it awkward or that it had some homespun charm that the rest of this convention has. Take your pick. Your opinion may differ.
Thank you very, very much from the bottom of my heart. Thank you all.
Tonight was my favorite night of every convention. It's the roll call. It happens every four years where every state announces their delegates.
And and normally it's all in the big convention hall and they have their signs with the state name and the whole delegation is there cheering. And that was different.
But it was actually so fun because you had people in random locations all over the country, Washington, Syntel, alow from the Granite State.
I came from the Philippines to Hawaii, the land of indigenous native Hawaiians.
I've been doing this for a long time. So let me just play black people, especially black women, are the backbone of this party. The calamari comeback state of Rhode Island casts one vote for Bernie Sanders and 34 votes for the next president, Joe Biden.
What in the world is the calamari? Come back. Did we learn? Yeah, I. I went to Google that before we started recording, but you'd have to really not be paying attention to not pick out the whole unity theme over this whole convention. Right. And, you know, I think the roll call in showing people physically in every state, you know, I think it was an effective way to at least show unity among people who are very spread apart and quite disconnected thanks to coronavirus right now.
Yeah, I mean, I feel like this roll call could be just like bottled up and put in a Smithsonian somewhere to capture this time of quarantine. You had people in masks, people essentially distanced Wana.
What what stood out to you?
So I think the big moment of the night for me at least, was hearing speech from Adi Barkan, who's the progressive activists, who has been a big champion for single payer health care after he was diagnosed with ALS in twenty sixteen.
Even during this terrible crisis, Donald Trump and Republican politicians are trying to take away millions of people's health insurance with the existential threat of another four years of this president. We all have a profound obligation to act not only to vote, but to make sure that our friends, family and neighbors vote as well.
Adi Barkan was one of the few progressives other than Congresswoman Alexandrea or Ocasio Cortez, who also spoke tonight to have a speaking spot this week.
And he's someone who, before endorsing Joe Biden during the primary, he endorsed Elizabeth Warren and he endorsed Bernie Sanders. He has pushed Joe Biden to support Medicare for all is something that Joe Biden has rejected. And I think that his story is obviously deeply personal at a moment where health care is so top of mind to so many people because of this pandemic that we're living to, but also because he speaks to the future of the party and the activist base of this party for which there are still some unsettled differences with the Biden Harris ticket.
And one of the things I've been thinking about all night, actually, is the fact that a lot of what we heard, at least tonight in this convention, didn't really speak to the future of the party.
It spoke to all of the people who have been in Joe Biden's corner for years and years, some of which are household names for a lot of us who who maybe have grown up in politics. But for some of these activists, they're not people that they have. They're not people they have a connection with. And I just it's something I think about as we talk about young voters who the party wants to re-engage with in the final days leading up to the election.
I don't know. I just I don't know if it's effective necessarily. Yeah.
I mean, the the convention night programming started with this montage of people who arguably you could say are the future of the Democratic Party.
They were young elected officials from all over the country diverse and then most of the rest of the. Convention night was people from another time, sort of people who can validate knowing Joe Biden in the 70s, the convention organizers were clearly trying to connect this next generation to Biden or create some continuity.
But it's it's not it's not clear that that throughline lasted the night. You know, I just can't stop thinking while I watch this that yes, of course, there's the unity message. Like I said, it's it's hard to miss when you have people like Colin Powell and John Kerry on the same screen. You know, Colin Powell, who in the Bush administration, he was secretary of state. He was instrumental in getting us into the Iraq war. And John Kerry, also a former secretary of state who was defeated by that by President Bush when he ran for president, having them both on the same screen and with him and John Kasich last night, you have two Republicans.
But also, you know, you have people like you have Bill Clinton up there. What I'm saying is that you have a broad ideological spectrum. You also have people who were this not televised. You can imagine some of these people getting some big boos, especially from the progressives in the party. John Kasich, of course, a conservative Republican, Colin Powell, like I said, Iraq war, Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton accused of sexual assault. What I keep thinking is, man, if this were in a convention hall and this were not on TV, how different would this be?
But when you're running against Donald Trump and you get to be on TV and have no one booing you, you have everyone in that foxhole, even the people who are I hate the word problematic, but I guess let's use it here.
Yeah, I mean, people who. Yeah, people who, first of all, many Democrats have many reasons to dislike.
And second of all, people who, you know, whose records we are reassessing and we are reassessing after they've been in power.
So it sounds like what you're saying is that the virtual convention allows a certain smoothing over of any raw feelings.
Yeah, like you guys you guys were there in 2016, the many Sanders supporters with TPP duct tape over their mouths. I'm not saying it's good or bad that those people are not here.
What I'm saying it is it is good for the Democratic Party and good for Joe Biden to not have loud opposition being voiced and not have us with our microphones running up to those people telling their stories.
Here's the thing, though. We're all living. We're not in the same place. These activists aren't in the same place. But we're going to hear from people who have quibbles with the Biden Harris platform and the ticket.
We're going to hear from them online, whether it's on Twitter or on tick tock, they're going to voice their opposition. I think the thing that is to the benefit of the DNC and of the candidates is the fact that they are able to have pretty basically a largely seamless infomercial with no interruption. I just think I think we have to be clear that the opposition is getting is going to be quiet right now during the programming, but it's not going away fair?
Yeah, totally. All right.
Well, let's take a quick break. And when we get back, Jill Biden gave the big speech of the night support for this podcast.
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But some big divides amongst that bloc and some serious ambivalence could determine who is elected president this November. Listen now on the Code Switch podcast from NPR. And we're back, and as is traditional with a convention, the potential first lady gives a speech.
And tonight it was Jill Biden in a classroom where she used to teach and arguably she was there to humanize Joe Biden.
I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours, bring us together and make us whole carry us forward in our time of need. Keep the promise of America for all of us want to.
As we were listening to this speech, you pointed out in our chat that this was a very different speech than the one that Michelle Obama gave last night.
Yeah, I think that they're both speeches that are rightfully going to get a lot of attention because of the messages. But there is some dissonance there.
We heard Michelle Obama last night talk about how this is a country that is divided in a sharper way than I've heard her make that statement, perhaps ever.
And then if you think about what we heard tonight from Biden, she made the case that there are people who want to tell us that our country is divided and that we have these irreconcilable differences.
But she doesn't believe that.
So we're coming together and holding on to each other. We're finding mercy and grace in the moments we might have once taken for granted. We're seeing that our differences are precious and our similarities infinite.
She believes that people are coming together naturally now and that her husband, the former vice president, is fighting to bring people together. So you're seeing these two women with this experience in public life and these two very different ways kind of get at where we are as a country right now. And they just seem to have a different take on what the status of things is.
What do you think that there's that that's so much dissonance as to be a problem or to the contrary? Could it be that it's two different messages? They appeal to two different groups of people, even more unity because the two messages maybe don't jibe with each other?
I think that's OK that there are two really different messages.
I took the former first lady Michelle Obama's speech yesterday as a moral message and a condemnation of President Trump's record, the way he's handled the pandemic, and a message that was kind of speaking to the heart and conscious of every American who has sat in their homes frustrated, perhaps scared and looking for a way to reckon with all of that during the course of the Trump presidency, since her family left the White House.
And I think that Joe Biden's message was there to serve a different purpose. It was to introduce herself as a potential future first lady to a nation who may be familiar with her because her family was in the administration, of course, but who don't know her well. And it was to humanize her husband as someone who has dealt with tragedy, as someone who is empathetic and who can unite the country again. There are two different messages from two very different women, both aimed at defeating Donald Trump and electing Joe Biden, of course.
But I think there's just a little bit different theory of the case that we heard from each one of them. Mm hmm.
You know, the the story of Joe Biden is a story of loss and bringing strength to that loss. And, you know, Biden, when he was first elected to the Senate, his his family was in a car accident right before Christmas and his young daughter and wife were killed and and his two sons survived but were hospitalized.
And then Jill Biden came along when the boys were a little bit older and brought the family together, as they say in the biographical video.
And then later during the Obama administration, Beau Biden, one of Biden's sons, died of brain cancer. And that story was a very big part of the convention tonight.
And tying that story to other people, I mean, I don't know how many people tonight said at one point or another, you know, Joe Biden helped me through my grief or Joe Biden took my call or Joe Biden gave me his phone number.
Right. And, you know, we can't run the counterfactual of how this would hit during not a deadly pandemic. But, yeah, I imagine that the intention was, you know, for this to be a particularly powerful message at a time when when one hundred seventy thousand is it, you know, one hundred seventy thousand Americans have died. Of coronavirus and many, many times that are grieving, you know, we always use that phrase consoler in chief about the president, that phrase takes on much bigger meaning at a time like this.
So I'm sure that that that backdrop was considered.
And that is a wrap for night two of the DNC. There are two more nights to go. And many of us from the NPR politics team will be covering it all on the Radio Live every night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Follow along by visiting Unpeg or asking your smart speaker to play NPR or your local station by name. I'm Tamara Keith. I cover the White House. I'm Danielle Sullivan. I cover politics. And I'm Juana Summers. I cover demographics and culture.
And thank you for listening to the NPR Politics podcast.