Democrats were hoping that when Biden stood up to accept the presidential nomination Thursday night, he could deliver the kind of speech to get voters to nod their heads instead of nodding their heads, and that cable pundits are talking about ” momentum”.
Released to tens of millions of people, Biden’s speech marked the first truly national moment in the 2020 campaign, with the formal conclusion of the Democratic primary on the one hand, and the first clear picture of the presidential standoff – Biden v Trump, Uncle Joe v Maga Don – on the other.
At a minimum, Democrats were hoping Biden would avoid the kind of verbal slippages the Trump campaign eagerly uses, so ironically given their own candidate’s chase inconsistently, to attack him.
But when Biden finished speaking in Wilmington, Delaware on Thursday with an arm around Dr Jill Biden, fireworks in the background and her smile as wide as the country, Democrats weren’t alone. to realize that their candidate was not just connected – he had got there.
“I went with adequate expectations, and he took it out of the park,” longtime Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a harsh critic of Trump, said on a Hacks on Tap podcast. “It was so genuine to who Biden is, and… it captured the mood of the country, which is unity, stability, competence, ‘We can rise above that.’
“I thought Biden was having the time of his life, and he should feel really good about it. ”
Trump has sought to steal Biden’s highlight with campaign stops outside Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pa. This afternoon. After a speech on an airstrip, the President went to a pizzeria, where he was filmed hoisting a pie, without face masks, as staff members, all wearing masks, taking photos and waving with enthusiasm.
“They supposedly have the best pizza,” Trump told reporters. “We’ll let you know in about half an hour.”
Alerting Friday morning to the need to nip Biden’s moment in the bud, the Trump campaign deployed Vice President Mike Pence on five morning shows, where he argued that Biden, an amount known in Washington for 50 years, was a crouching socialist.
“It’s a choice between President Trump’s record and the agenda of freedom and opportunity, against a Democratic agenda driven by the radical left and Joe Biden’s vision that will lead to socialism and decline for America.” Pence told Fox News.
Responding to Biden’s criticism of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, Pence demonstrated the two sides’ extraordinary ability to talk to each other.
“The president keeps telling us the virus is going to go away,” Biden said in his speech. “He’s waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for him, no miracles are brewing.
Pence told CNN, “We think there is a miracle around the corner. ”
The biggest near-term opportunity for Trump and the Republicans to create a contrast with Biden will be through their own convention, which is expected to begin Monday with more physical elements in person than the all-virtual Democratic event.
Controversially, Trump plans to accept the White House field appointment on Thursday, in apparent violation of laws requiring political campaigning to be separated from the conduct of office.
The president and vice-president are exempt from the law, but wide party participation in such an important campaign event is inevitable. Trump invited most Republican lawmakers (but not Senator Mitt Romney, who voted for his impeachment and impeachment) to the White House lawn to watch his speech. The campaign plans to set off fireworks at the National Mall.
Unlike Democrats, Republicans also plan to summon delegates in person in Charlotte, North Carolina. Trump had unconfirmed plans to visit the 336 delegates on Monday, although the state’s Democratic governor has led an effort to ensure Republicans are following public health guidelines.
“We weren’t going to let the governor’s partisan politics come between us and our commitment to North Carolina,” Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee – and niece of Romney – told The New York Times.
This commitment had faltered. Trump announced earlier this summer that the convention would be moved to Florida, where a Republican governor had not proposed any coronavirus restrictions. A major Covid-19 outbreak in that state has sent the event back to Charlotte.
With the force of his speech on Thursday night, Biden, 77, was seen as implicitly refuting Trump’s accusation that he had lost a step. But Biden’s rebuttal of Trump’s other attack – that the former vice president and six-term senator is a Trojan horse to the terrors of “socialism” – was explicit.
“Even though I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be the US president,” Biden said. “I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I do for those who did. It is the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. ”
Biden seemed to have won a few converts. “Joe impresses critics,” exclaimed the Drudge Report on Friday morning, usually a clearinghouse for the most astringent conservative messages.
Its banner title? “Biden Barn Burner”.