By CHEYENNE HASLETT, ABC News
(MILWAUKEE) — Night two of the Democratic National Convention ended with a promise from the nominee himself: “I’ll see you soon.”
While Joe Biden was referring to his speech on Thursday — when he’ll cap off the four-day virtual convention with his acceptance speech for the party’s nomination — on Tuesday night, he was never far.
On the heels of the roll call, which awarded the former vice president his official nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate, Biden and his family popped on screen for a slightly awkward, but jubilant celebration. Then, later, as his wife and the potential future first lady finished off the night with her pitch for her husband’s candidacy, Biden crashed again.
“God love you,” he said, giving her a kiss on the forehead.
Never one to follow the script, Biden’s surprise-appearances stood in contrast to the meticulously orchestrated virtual production. But they also added a bit of flair — a reminder from the nominee that he could have fun at his own party, even if it wasn’t the party he imagined.
Here are the key takeaways from Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention:
The roll call zoomed us from state to state
The roll call was a whole different ball game, save for the life-sized blue signs for each state that usually mark the convention floor as states announce their delegate counts for the nominee.
This year, the roll call didn’t happen under one roof — it bounced from tribal land in North Dakota to Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign as delegates, parents, teachers, small business owners, essential workers, activists and elected leaders stood — sometimes alone, always socially distanced — and cast their state’s delegate counts.
State by state, voters tried to bring a semblance of unified enthusiasm, despite thousands of miles of distance.
There was canned applause in Pennsylvania; an “O-H-I-O” chant from Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. “It’s… Joe time!” said nurse and union member Scheena Iyande Tannis, announcing New York’s delegate counts.
The roll call also highlighted important monuments around the country. The process began in Alabama, where Rep. Terri Sewell delivered the delegation’s votes from the site where state troopers attacked the late Rep. John Lewis and other civil rights demonstrators in 1965 — an incident that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Biden was officially nominated Tuesday night with a total of 3,558 delegates. The only other nominee on the ballot, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, had 1,151 delegates.
“I’ll see you on Thursday,” Biden said as the camera panned to Wilmington, Delaware, where Biden celebrated surrounded by his mask-clad family.
Young and old, Democrats show that they’re unified for Biden
Despite the progressive-moderate divide in the Democratic Party illustrated by the primary, the DNC was sure to match speeches from white-haired Democrats with speeches from newcomers who served to highlight the party’s commitment to representation.
Night two of the convention kicked off with appearances from Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, the first openly gay person of color and one of the youngest members elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly; Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, the first Latina in the state Senate’s history; and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the first woman to hold the position.
Stacey Abrams, a progressive Democrat who ran for governor of Georgia in 2018 and was a contender to be Biden’s running mate, topped off the first segment with a vision of Biden as someone who will listen to the demands of marginalized Americans and confront the challenges of racism.
Biden will “hear our dreams and work to make them real,” Abrams said, speaking directly to the cautious progressives Biden has committed to earning votes from.
“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors, we cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve. Who hear our dreams and work to make them real. Who defend our way of life by protecting our right to vote,” Abrams said.
On the contrast, when former President Bill Clinton, who is three years younger than Biden at 74, spoke later in the night, he spelled out his support for Biden in a different way.
“At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos. Just — one thing never changes — (Trump’s) determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame,” Clinton said, speaking as an insider who once held the office, rather than an outsider.
“Now, you have to decide whether to renew his contract or hire someone else,” Clinton said, comparing the American people to an employer.
“And this job interview, the difference is stark. You know what Donald Trump will do with four more years, blame, bully and belittle. And you know what Joe Biden will do, build back better,” Clinton said.
Spotlight on Jill as Joe’s bedrock
“Good Day Sunshine” played as Jill Biden, the former second lady, took off on a jog.
“I have a rule that I never think of anything negative when I’m running,” Biden said in the taped video. “American Girl” played as pictures flashed of Biden running marathons.
Her husband described her as loyal, the glue of his family and someone who was raised with his same “values.”
“The American people know, in their heart, that she’d fight like hell for them,” he said.
Her friends said she fought back against neighborhood bullies and called her as “feisty.”
Her granddaughters called her a prankster who wasn’t afraid to pick up a dead snake and use it to scare someone.
But for her part, Biden used her speech at the convention Tuesday night to empathize with parents, teachers and students who are waiting in limbo for a time when classrooms are safe again.
The community college professor walked down an empty hallway of Brandywine High School, where she taught English in the early 1990s, lamenting how quiet it was because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And in keeping with the descriptions assigned to her by her loved ones, Biden implored viewers to focus on the future.
“Yes, so many classrooms are quiet right now. The playgrounds are still. But if you listen closely, you can hear the sparks of change in the air,” Biden said. “I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours — bring us together and make us whole, carry us forward in our time of need, keep the promise of America for all of us.”
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