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'Trust Biden - he believes in science and tells the truth'

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden signs official documents needed to receive his party's official nomination next week during an event in Wilmington, Delaware. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden signs official documents needed to receive his party's official nomination next week during an event in Wilmington, Delaware. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden signs official documents needed to receive his party's official nomination next week during an event in Wilmington, Delaware. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Democrats used the first day of their convention yesterday to showcase the breadth of support they believe Joe Biden can win at the US election by giving both Republicans and Left-wingers speaking slots.

Under a banner of "we the people", the evening's two-hour programme was scheduled to include politicians who challenged Mr Biden for the party's presidential nomination in an attempt to project a message of unity.

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, who was the last man standing against Mr Biden in the Democratic primaries earlier this year, was given one of the most prominent speaking slots.

Mr Sanders had fiercely pushed against Mr Biden's centrist message when the pair squared off at the start of 2020 but, since his defeat became inevitable, he has been attempting to make sure progressives get behind Mr Biden to defeat Donald Trump. Meanwhile, at the other end of the political spectrum, John Kasich, the Republican who came third in the 2016 presidential primaries in which Mr Trump won, was given time for a speech where he was expected to heap praise on Mr Biden.

Mr Kasich was scheduled alongside other moderate Republicans such as Christine Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey, and Meg Whitman, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard who ran for California's governorship as a Republican.

Michelle Obama, the former first lady to Barack Obama, was due to deliver the night's keynote speech. She remains deeply popular in the party.

Mrs Obama's speech called Joe Biden a "profoundly decent man" who will "tell the truth and trust science", seeking to draw a sharp contrast between President Donald Trump and her husband's two-term vice president.

"He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic and lead our country," Mrs Obama said in an advance excerpt of her speech.

"He will make smart plans and manage a good team, and he will govern as someone who's lived a life that the rest of us can recognise."

Democratic officials stressed that last night's speaking programme underscored the "depth and breadth" of support that Mr Biden, the former US vice president, has across the country.

The message came at the opening of the four-day Democratic National Convention, a key moment in the 2020 campaign calendar when the party projects its policies and vision for America ahead of the November vote.

The Republicans hold their convention next week.

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Coronavirus has made the traditional packed stadiums with cheering supporters and in-person speeches impossible. Instead the event is almost entirely being held online.

Each evening, the Democrats have scheduled two hours of made-for-television content, a combination of traditional speeches - though shorter than usual - and videos backing up the candidate's message and entertainment.

It is hoped that by broadcasting the convention in the evening and with major television channels picking up the output, voters who do not normally tune in to politics will watch and be swayed.

Musicians such as John Legend and Billie Eilish will perform, while actress Eva Longoria was due to kick off last night's events. Video clips from US voters explaining why they support Mr Biden will also be used throughout the convention.

There has been some backlash over the scheduling of speakers, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York congresswoman, given just one minute to speak - less than some Republicans.

Cedric Richmond, co-chairman of Mr Biden's campaign, yesterday said that having Republicans on stage would help wavering voters from that party realise they could back Mr Biden.

He said: "There are a bunch of people out there, silent Biden voters, Republicans that want to vote for Biden or that will be voting for Biden and it's important to let them know they're not alone and there are Republican leaders that are voting for Biden and [Kamala] Harris."

Democrats hope to further embed Ms Harris, the California senator who was named as Mr Biden's vice presidential nominee, on the presidential ticket and sell her backstory to voters.


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