WASHINGTON (AP) – Joe Biden formally endorsed the Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, posing a major challenge for President Donald Trump to play against the unprecedented backdrop of a pandemic, economic collapse and civil unrest.
“It was an honor to participate in one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever agreed to,” Biden said in a statement on Friday evening, “and I can proudly say that we are holding this general election, a unified party, go in. “
The former vice president has actually been the leader of his party since his last Democratic primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, ended his campaign in April. But Biden gathered the 1991 delegates needed to become the nominee after seven states, and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries on Tuesday.
Biden reached the threshold three days after the primaries because several states, overwhelmed by massive increases in postal ballots, took days to determine the results. Teams of analysts from The Associated Press then parsed the votes in individual congressional districts. Democrats assign most delegates to the party’s national convention based on results in individual congressional districts.
Biden now has 1,993 delegates, with games to come in eight states and three US territories.
The moment received little of the traditional fanfare as the nation faces overlapping crises. While Biden has started doing more this week, the coronavirus pandemic has largely locked him up at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, for the past three months.
The country is facing the worst unemployment since the Great Depression. And the civil unrest dating back to the 1960s erupted in dozens of cities after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving and beg for air.
It is a confluence of events that no American leader has faced in modern times, made all the more complicated by a president who sometimes harasses protesters and is eager to take the fight to Biden.
“This is a difficult time in America’s history,” Biden said Friday evening. And Donald Trump’s furious, divisive policy is not an answer. The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us. Leadership that can bring us together. ‘
Biden spent 36 years in the Senate before becoming Barack Obama’s vice president. This is 77-year-old Biden’s third presidency bid, and his success in reaching the Democratic nomination was due to strong support from black voters.
He finished in an embarrassing fourth place in the overwhelmingly white Iowa primaries that started the nomination process in February. Biden fared little better in the New Hampshire primaries, where his status was so low that he left the state before polling polls were closed on election night to rally black voters in South Carolina instead.
His rebound started in the more diverse caucuses in Nevada, but strengthened in South Carolina, where Biden Sanders, his closest rival, stamped by nearly 29 points. He followed that with a dominant show three days later during the Super Tuesday games, capturing 10 of the 14 states.
Biden’s strong acting in states like North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas bolstered his status as African Democratic voters’ favorite democratic candidate – but the relationship didn’t go without tense moments. After a tense exchange with an influential black radio host, Biden received sharp criticism for suggesting that African-American voters who still decide between him and Trump are “not black.”
That comment, and protests that have spread across the country, have put pressure on Biden to choose an African American running size. He has already committed to choosing a woman as a vice presidential candidate.
Black voters are unlikely to support Trump well above Biden. A recent Fox News poll shows that only 14% of African Americans registered to vote have a positive opinion of the President, compared to 75% who find Biden favorable.
But Biden must ensure that black voters are motivated to come to the polls in November, especially in critical swing states that narrowly went for Trump in 2016.
At one point, the Democratic primary included dozens of candidates of different races, genders and generations and an openly gay man. The competition was dominated by debate on unapologetically progressive ideas, including fully publicly funded health care under “Medicare for All” and a sweeping proposal to combat climate change known as the “Green New Deal”.
Biden prevailed by usually offering more moderate approaches that he claimed would make him more eligible against Trump.
He declined to give in to his rejection of universal health care and some of the Green New Deal’s most ambitious provisions to combat climate change.
However, since the nomination was ratified, Biden has worked on its appeal to progressives, forming joint task forces with Sanders’ campaign to find a common ground on key issues such as health, economy and environment. Biden has also embraced a plan to forgive the U.S. student debt of millions of Americans, meaning he confirms the nomination as easily the most liberal standard-bearer the Democratic Party has ever had.
Biden’s embrace of his party’s left flank could help him consolidate a democratic base that remained deeply divided after the 2016 heat and ultimately hurt Hillary Clinton in her defeat to Trump. But it could also undermine Biden’s efforts to undermine the rebuilding of the Obama coalition, which is often loosely defined as minorities and youth, as well as educated Americans and some workers’ voters.
Since the announcement of his candidacy, the former vice president has attempted to declare elections a struggle “for the soul of the nation,” pledging to restore order and dignity to the White House while preserving the American image on the world stage to recover. However, such an approach necessarily aims to be more of an alternative to Trump than to offer radically new political ideas. And that further underscores Biden’s difficult task of trying to unify the base of his party while addressing voters from far beyond.
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