Kamala Harris is poised to accept the Democratic party’s nomination for vice-president later on Wednesday, making history as the first female of colour to join a major party ticket.
Ms Harris will address voters live via video link on the third and penultimate night of the party’s virtual convention on Wednesday, which will be capped off by a speech from former president Barack Obama.
Mr Obama is expected to launch one of his most pointed attacks on Donald Trump’s presidency, accusing him of having “no interest in putting in the work” required by a president and treating the White House like a “reality show”, according to pre-released extracts from his speech.
Mr Obama will say: “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone.”
The former president, who has become more explicit in his criticism of Mr Trump in recent weeks, will deliver his speech from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, a venue chosen to apparently underscore the gravity of the choice facing voters.
Other speakers that are scheduled to appear include Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, the progressive Massachusetts senator, and Nancy Pelosi, House speaker. Joe Biden, who was formally nominated as the party’s presidential candidate on Tuesday, will speak on Thursday evening.
Mrs Clinton will use her stinging defeat in 2016 to urge potential Democratic voters to “vote like our livelihoods are on the line”, according to pre-released extracts from her speech.
She will also argue that voters had failed to appreciate “how dangerous” a president Donald Trump would be. “For four years, people have said to me . . . ‘I wish I could go back and do it over’. Or, worse, ‘I should have voted’. Well, this can’t be another woulda, coulda, shoulda election.
“I wish Donald Trump had been a better president. But, sadly, he is who he is,” Mrs Clinton is expected to say.
That remark echoes the form of words — “it is what it is” — that Mr Trump recently used when asked about the coronavirus death toll in America. Several other speakers at the convention have also referred to the president’s answer this week, including former president Bill Clinton and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Mrs Pelosi will also make the case against Mr Trump. “I’ve seen first-hand Donald Trump’s disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular — disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct,” she is expected to say.
Political pundits had wondered whether the party would be able to pull off a largely virtual convention in the middle of a pandemic, but so far the transition has gone relatively well. The first two nights contained no big technical glitches, with some speeches pre-recorded and others carried live.
An in-person delegate roll-call was replaced with a virtual one, complete with a montage of delegates from across the country. The nights have featured fewer traditional, lectern speeches and more appearances from voters.
Mrs Obama addressed viewers from the intimacy of her living room, while Jill Biden — Mr Biden’s wife and a teacher — spoke via video link from an empty classroom, in an attempt to illustrate the damage done by the pandemic to the education system.