United against Trump -- Obama, Sanders and a few Republicans urge voters to back Biden
NEW YORK -- Former first lady Michelle Obama assailed President Donald Trump Monday night, delivering a scathing critique of the Republican president who replaced her husband as the Democrats opened their national convention.
"Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country," she declared. "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."
Obama's comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn, and police violence -- and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump's reelection.
The ideological range of Biden's many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio's former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.
Biden won't deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday's event as he moderated a panel on racial justice that featured Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Racial justice was a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service, which Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.
"My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake," Sanders declared.
Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican "holds second place to my responsibility to my country."
"In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times," he said of his participation at the Democrats' convention. He added: "Many of us can't imagine four more years going down this path."
Other Republicans speaking at the Democrats' convention on Monday included former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former New York Rep. Susan Molinari.
The unified message came as Democrats launched the first presidential nominating convention of the coronavirus era. The all-virtual affair was the first without a central meeting place or cheering throngs. And there were real questions about whether the prime-time event would adequately energize the disparate factions Biden hopes to capture.
Republicans face a similar challenge next week.
Trump sought to undermine the Democrats' big night by hosting a political rally in Wisconsin, where Biden's party had originally planned this week's convention. He called the Democrats' event "a snooze" before it even began.
"You know when you hear a speech is taped, it's like there is nothing very exciting about it, right?" the Republican president said.
Monday's speeches were framed by emotional appearances from Americans touched by the crises that have exploded on Trump's watch.
Philonise and Rodney Floyd led a moment of silence in honor of their brother, George Floyd, the Minnesota man whose death while in police custody sparked a national moment of awakening on racial injustice.
"George should be alive today," Philonise Floyd said matter-of-factly.
Also appearing was Kristin Urquiza, an Arizona woman who lost her father to COVID-19, which has killed more than 170,000 Americans as of Monday evening.
"My dad was a healthy 65-year-old," she said. "His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life."
And Rick Telecz, a Pennsylvania farmer, warned that Trump's trade war has had a "truly a devastating effect" on his farm before the coronavirus brought another blow with what he called "misinformation" coming from the country's leadership.
"My biggest concern is that if these trends with this type of leadership, I will be the last generation farming this farm," he said.