WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democratic National Convention kicked off this week with San Francisco resident Kristin Urquiza solemnly telling audiences her father died of the coronavirus in May after he listened to President Donald Trump’s advice and ignored social distancing guidelines.
“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life,” said Urquiza, who explained her father died in the ICU with only a nurse to hold his hand. “…When I cast my vote for Joe Biden, I will do it for my dad.”
The convention, which was mostly virtual due to the pandemic, started Monday night and is slated to conclude Thursday with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, formally accepting the nomination.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former First Lady Michelle Obama were the event’s main speakers. Sanders, who ran a progressive campaign before dropping out of the presidential race in April, urged his supporters to rally behind the former vice president.
“Many of the ideas we fought for that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream,” he said. “But let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy.”
Sanders slammed the president for fighting with doctors and scientists and failing to contain the coronavirus. He also condemned the administration for embracing authoritarianism by working to suppress the vote and deploying federal agents against peaceful protesters during the ongoing push for police reform.
The former first lady said Biden was an excellent vice president who worked alongside her husband to create jobs, fight climate change and expand health care for millions of Americans. She credited the pair for cooperating with scientists to stop an Ebola outbreak from turning into a global pandemic.
“Four years later, the state of this nation is very different,” Obama said. “More than 150,000 people have died, and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long. It has left millions of people jobless. Too many have lost their health care; too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent; too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely.”
Obama also praised Biden’s strength and character. He lost his first wife and daughter as a young senator, she explained, and more recently he lost one of his sons. But she said he never allowed his grief to keep him down.
“His life is a testament to getting back up and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward,” she said.
Several other prominent politicians spoke at the event, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. Some Republicans, like former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, joined the convention to caution against re-electing Trump.
“I am a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” said Kasich. “That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times.”
In addition to serving as the vice president for President Barack Obama, Biden represented Delaware for decades in the U.S. Senate. After months of speculation, he announced Harris as his running mate last week.
Harris, who dropped out of the presidential race in December, is the first Black woman and the first South Asian American woman to be picked for national office by a major party. She previously served as San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general before being elected to the Senate.
Many leaders in Silicon Valley, including San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Rep. Ro Khanna of Fremont, applauded Biden’s choice.
Although a Democratic governor would traditionally lead the state’s delegation at the DNC, California Gov. Gavin Newsom was surprisingly snubbed in June. California Democrats instead selected Khanna to co-lead the delegation, alongside Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.
Khanna told San José Spotlight he was honored to be chosen.
“I really am going to be pushing for a bold progressive agenda,” he said, explaining that he planned to promote Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage, as well as free public college.
Contact Katie King at [email protected] or follow @KatieKingCST on Twitter.