Former US first lady Michelle Obama made a compelling case for Joe Biden for the US presidency, while Senator Bernie Sanders compared President Donald Trump with Roman emperor Nero, on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention that is being held virtually for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Michelle hit out at Trump, casting him as the “wrong president” for the country. And Sanders slammed the US president for his handling of the pandemic, saying, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Trump golfs.”
Sanders also made a politically significant appeal for party unity. His reluctance to support Hillary Clinton in 2016 had split the Democratic Party, with many of his fiercely loyal supporters choosing to stay home on election day.
It was Michelle who delivered the defining speech of the night, which observers noted did not mention vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris. The speech was recorded before Biden had announced his pick.
“So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can,” said Michelle. “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. 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. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.” The last sentence – “It is what it is” – was a dig at Trump’s own response to the mounting Covid-19 crisis in America.
Building on the lines from her speech at the 2016 convention – going high against the low blows of the Trump campaign – Michelle said, “Going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top.”
Sanders said, “The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice-president.”
Trump erupts angrily at Michelle’s speech
Trump reacted angrily over Michelle’s speech, launching a broadside against her as well as against Barack Obama.
“Somebody please explain to @MichelleObama that Donald J. Trump would not be here, in the beautiful White House, if it weren’t for the job done by your husband, Barack Obama,” Trump wrote. “Biden was merely an afterthought, a good reason for that very late & unenthusiastic endorsement.”
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