The Democratic National Convention started Monday, but with no in-person convening. Instead, Democrats opted for the first virtual convention as the party began the formal process of nominating Joe Biden as its candidate for president.
Here are some of the top moments from the first night of the 2020 DNC.
Moment of Silence With George Floyd's Family
Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., introduced the family of George Floyd, the Black man whose killing by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25 spawned nationwide protests and intensified calls to address the nation’s history of systemic racism. One of Floyd’s brothers spoke about him and named a litany of other Black Americans killed by police, followed by a moment of silence.
Bowser introduced the Floyd family from Black Lives Matter Plaza, the stretch of 16th Street in Washington leading up to the White House that was repainted and renamed in the wake of Floyd’s death.
Bowser compared the history of peaceful protest in the nation’s capital with President Donald Trump ordering Lafayette Square cleared with tearing agents so he could walk to a nearby church to be photographed with a Bible.
“While we were peacefully protesting, Donald Trump was plotting,” Bowser said. “I knew if he did this to D.C., he would do it to your city or your town, and that’s when I said enough.”
'I Will Do It for My Dad'
Kristin Urquiza, whose father died from COVID-19 in June, said her father had voted for Trump in 2016, listened to him and believed him and his supporters when they said the coronavirus was under control. After a stay-at-home order was lifted in Arizona, Mark Anthony Urquiza went to a karaoke bar and a few weeks later died alone in an ICU with a nurse holding his hand, she said.
“His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life,” she said.
The obituary she wrote for her father was shared widely online.
“His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk,” she wrote.
She said that one of the last things her father said to her was that he felt betrayed by Trump.
“And so, when I cast my vote for Joe Biden, I will do it for my dad,” she said.
'Joe Knows Us'
South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, a prominent African-American Democrat who helped save Biden’s candidacy in the spring with a key endorsement just before the state’s primary, was back on Monday to restate his support.
“It was a decision I made with my feet firmly planted in this community,” Clyburn said in Charleston. "This community where 80 percent of African-Americans in this country can claim an ancestor, who arrived on these shores in bondage—a few blocks from here at Gadsden’s Wharf," he said.
“This community that is still healing from the wounds we received when a white supremacist entered Emanuel AME Church and murdered nine Black parishioners as they studied the Bible together,” he said, referring to the mass murder at one of the oldest churches in the South five years ago.
Biden had performed so poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire as to raise questions about whether he would have to drop out. But in South Carolina, Black voters in particular gave him a strong win.
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Clyburn noted that Charleston earlier this month removed a statue honoring John C. Calhoun, an advocate of slavery. The city and the country is laying the groundwork for a more just future, he said.
"So, we will need a president who sees unifying people as a requirement of the job,” he said. “A president who understands the true meaning of community—and how to build it through trust and humility.”
He referenced the deaths that Biden has faced, of his son, Beau, to brain cancer in 2015 and much earlier, in 1972, of his first wife and young daughter in a car accident.
“And with so many families experiencing loss in this pandemic — lost jobs, lost loved ones, and lost confidence in the president to keep us safe — we need a president who understands both profound loss; and what it takes to bounce back,” Clyburn said.
“I have said before and wish to reiterate tonight; we know Joe — but more importantly Joe knows us,” he ended.
Country Before Party
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the United States in the last four years had been following a path that had led to "division, dysfunction, irresponsibility and growing vitriol."
Kasich, a Republican who ran against Trump in the 2016 primary, acknowledged how unusual his appearance at the Democratic National Committee was.
"I'm a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country," Kasich said. "That's why I've chosen to appear at this convention."
Kasich, who was standing at what appeared to be a fork in the road, was preceded by three prominent Republican women, who talked about why they were voting for Biden.
Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who served as head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, said of the election, "It's about a person: a person decent enough, stable enough, strong enough to get our economy back on track; a person who can work with everyone, Democrats and Republicans, to get things done."
Meg Whitman, the CEO of Quibi and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, said "Donald Trump has no clue how to run a business, let alone an economy. Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a plan that will strengthen our economy for working people and small business owners."
Susan Molinari, a former congresswoman from New York City, has known Trump most of her political career, and has found him "so disappointing, and lately, so disturbing," she said.
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Kasich said he had known Biden for 30 years.
"Yes, there are areas where Joe and I absolutely disagree, but that's OK — because that's America. Because whatever our differences, we respect one another as human beings — each of us searching for justice and for purpose."
'Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned. Trump Golfs.'
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., unleashed a scathing attack on Trump, suggesting that under him "authoritarianism has taken root in our country."
Addressing the opening night of the virtual convention, the senator from Vermont said Trump had proved incapable of controlling the coronavirus outbreak, coping with the economic fallout and addressing institutional racism in the United States and climate change threatening the globe.
"Nero fiddled while Rome burned," Sanders said. "Trump golfs."
Sanders, who finished second in the Democratic primary behind Biden, struck a more optimistic tone when he thanked supporters who voted for him in 2016 and 2020 for helping to move the country "in a bold, new direction."
He called on his backers, as well as those who supported other 2020 Democratic primary contenders or Trump four years ago, to unite behind Biden.
"My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine," Sanders said.
'Vote for Joe Biden Like Our Lives Depend on It'
Michelle Obama warned Americans to "vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it" during her speech.
In remarks that capped off Monday night's event, the former first lady offered a sharp rebuke of the Trump presidency, telling viewers that he "has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head."
"He cannot meet this moment," she said.
She added that "if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can." Obama emphasized the need for all Americans to vote, making reference to the voters who stayed home in 2016 and helped deliver Trump the win that year, even as he lost the popular vote.
"We’ve all been suffering the consequences," she said.
In contrast, she described Biden as a "profoundly decent man" who "knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic and lead our country."