Speaking from an empty convention hall, California Senator Kamala Harris accepted her party’s historic nomination Wednesday to be its vice-presidential candidate on the third night of the Democratic virtual convention.
In a video, Harris was formally introduced by female family members including her sister Maya Harris, her niece Meena Harris and stepdaughter Ella Emhoff, who all spoke about her strength and ambition.
Harris, the first Black woman and first Asian American to join a major party’s presidential ticket, pointed out that this presidential election was “a chance to change the course of history.”
As she accepted the nomination, Harris said her mother, an immigrant from India, “could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now and speaking these words.”
Rather than referring to President Donald Trump, Harris spoke about the future of the Biden-Harris administration.
“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe [Biden] will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said.
Several other prominent Democratic leaders including former President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren tried to make a case for the urgency to vote for Biden and Harris after seeing four years of Trump.
Obama gave a powerful speech from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia which began with a clip in which the former president awards Joe Biden the presidential medal of freedom.
With the constitution in the background, Obama spoke about how President Trump has not taken the US presidency seriously.
“I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care,” he said.
“He has shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”
Until now, Obama had been reluctant to take on Trump directly. After voicing his criticisms, he praised Biden and his running mate, Senator Harris.
This was the first convention night in which the spotlight did not go to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the evening revolved around other issues that had been overshadowed so far, such as climate change, immigration and gun violence.
Family members of gun violence victims spoke about how this is still a grim reality of life in the United States. Gabrielle Giffords, a former congresswoman who was shot in the head while speaking to constituents in Tucson, Arizona in 2011, also addressed the convention.
“America needs all of us to speak out even when you have to fight to find the words. We are at a crossroads: We can let the shooting continue or we can act. We can protect our families, our future. We can vote,” she said.
Much of Wednesday’s convention night, which was set by the performances of pop star Billie Eilish and Latino singer Prince Royce, was devoted to the power of women in politics and the causes that affect them the most, including sexual assault and domestic violence.
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