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What to Watch: Joe Biden Speaks for Himself

We have heard from the heroes of the Democratic Party’s past. We have heard from several leaders who may represent his future, including Senator Kamala Harris, the vice-presidential nominee. On the final night of the convention, the spotlight will finally turn to the man who is the party’s present, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Even with the awkward limitations of a virtual convention, the programming of the last three nights has built steadily and more or less smoothly toward the unveiling of Mr. Biden as a president-in-waiting. It now falls to Mr. Biden to fill the political silhouette his party has gradually sketched — one that frames him as a steady hand for difficult times, capable of bringing concrete relief to people suffering through a crisis.

In the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden has seldom been the most eloquent advocate for his own cause. In the most important moments of his campaign, he has leaned heavily on other, more magnetic and fluid speakers: Representative Jim Clyburn in the days before the South Carolina primary, and Senator Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., before the Super Tuesday contests in March. And he will have help again tonight, from allies who will address the audience before him, including Mr. Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate, and Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

But if ever there were a moment for Mr. Biden to stand on his own, this is it. President Trump seems to have done his best this week to tee up a major political opportunity for his challenger, making admiring comments about the online conspiracy-theory community QAnon and calling for Americans to shun Goodyear, the Ohio tire company, because of its restrictions on political attire in the workplace. Mr. Biden’s critique of the president appears as salient as ever — he just has to deliver it.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who won multiple Emmys for her role as Selina Meyer, the fictional vice president, on the HBO series “Veep,” will be tonight’s M.C.

The other major speakers are:

  • Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. A favorite of progressive Democrats, she is the first openly gay senator and was seen as a vice-presidential contender.

  • Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York. A former Republican turned major gun control benefactor, he ran a hugely expensive campaign for the Democratic nomination but was dogged by his record on policing.

  • Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who was also a Democratic primary candidate. He focused his campaign on a message of unity and was a leader on gun policy: the first candidate in the field to propose a licensing requirement, which more than half of his opponents ended up supporting.

  • Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. He emerged on top at the Iowa caucuses but faded in subsequent primaries and, ultimately, endorsed Mr. Biden before Super Tuesday. At just 38, he could be a prominent figure in Democratic politics for quite some time.

  • Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He holds the Senate seat that Mr. Biden once held, and if Mr. Biden wins in November, Mr. Coons is likely to be one of his strongest supporters in the Senate.

  • Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. A popular senator and veteran whose legs were amputated after her helicopter was shot down in Iraq, she was under consideration to be Mr. Biden’s running mate.

  • Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta. She became an unexpected contender for the vice-presidential spot as a result of her response to Black Lives Matter protests in Atlanta after the killing of Mr. Floyd.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. As the leader of the nation’s most populous state, Mr. Newsom was on the front lines of the early response to the coronavirus pandemic and managed to keep infection rates in California relatively low at first, though they spiked later.

  • Andrew Yang, a tech entrepreneur and former presidential candidate. He is known for his universal basic income proposal, which would have given every adult $1,000 a month.

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