After a night when some of the biggest names in the Democratic Party – and some in the Republican Party — excoriated President Trump and his time in the White House, the stage is now set for Tuesday’s roll call where delegates will officially cast votes to nominate Joe Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee.
While every speaker at the unprecedented, virtual convention laid into Trump – from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich – the most pointed attacks came from former first lady Michelle Obama and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In prerecorded remarks, Obama stressed the “awesome power of the presidency,” while saying the job “requires clear-headed judgment, a masterly of complex and competing issues, a moral compass and an ability to listen.”
She added: “Whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consultation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy.”
Obama, in an impassioned address, continued by calling Trump “the wrong president for our country.”
“He has had more than enough time…He is clearly in over his head,” she said. “He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”
Speaking directly before the former first lady, Sanders made a dire plea to his progressive supporters by asking them to cast their votes for Biden to prevent the spread of “authoritarianism” under Trump.
During a speech from his home in Burlington, Sanders specifically called on his wide base of support among leftwing voters to go to the ballot box for Biden, arguing that Biden stands as the last line of defense against the demise of progressive polices under Trump.
“Our campaign ended several months ago but our movement continues and it gets stronger every day,” Sanders said. “But if Donald Trump is reelected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy.”
The Vermont lawmaker also criticized the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that Trump has undermined medical professional and local lawmakers in his push to restart the economy.
“This president is not just a threat to our democracy, but by rejecting science he has put our lives and health in jeopardy,” Sanders said. “Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Trump golfs.”
Monday’s attacks on Trump set the tone for what is expected to be a convention focused mainly juxtaposing what Democrats say are Trump’s failings on issues ranging from the coronavirus to the economy with how Biden will handle the presidency should be elected.
While Tuesday’s roll call shouldn’t hold any surprises – as there was in 2016 when Sanders’ supporters vocally criticized the nomination of Hillary Clinton – there is still a simmering tension among many progressives over what they say is the party’s lack of embrace of their ideas.
Sanders on Monday tried to assuage those concerns, by highlighting Biden incorporating some of the ideas advocated by the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party into his platform and for working with Sanders on issues such as climate change.
“Joe will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and fight the threat of climate change,” Sanders said. “He has a plan that will greatly expand health care and cut the cost of prescription drugs… Joe will end private prisons, cash bail, the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Sanders added: “Joe Biden will end the hate and division that Trump has created. He will stop the demonizing of immigrants, the coddling of white supremacists.”
Biden's campaign has spent recent months working closely with top Sanders supporters and advisers to devise a joint collection of policy goals and promote party unity ahead of November's election.
Their finished product includes things like renewed calls for a $15 minimum wage, sweeping overhauls to decrease racism in the criminal justice system and reducing student loan debt for millions of Americans. But Biden has remained opposed to fully government-funded health care under Sanders’ signature “Medicare for All” plan and hasn’t signed onto the Green New Deal climate package.
Tuesday will be another day in which progressive speakers take the helm, with firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., taking the stage to make the case for Biden among her own progressive followers.
But to make sure his message was clear, Sanders closed his speech with an appeal to his progressive base and a warning about what not voting for Biden would mean.
“For everyone who supported other candidates in primary,” he said. “We must come together to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to president and vice president.”
“The price is just too great to imagine.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.