Former first lady Michelle Obama has told the opening day of the Democratic National Convention that Donald Trump is the “wrong president” for the country.
Dozens of people from across the party spoke at the conference’s first night, which was hosted by actress Eva Longoria, as it kicked off the formal US election run for Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris.
The convention is, in part, being held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – but it has been almost completely scaled back as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a passionate plea to the country, Mrs Obama said: “If you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can, and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.
“If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”
During her 18-minute speech, she also warned: “[Mr Trump] has had more than enough time to prove he can do the job, but he is simply in over his head.”
Mrs Obama was the headline speaker on the first night of the party’s virtual conference, which kicked off with a rousing rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, and a recital of the pledge of allegiance given by Mr Biden’s grandchildren.
Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden’s closest Democratic rival, also spoke. He called for his supporters, who are generally seen as more left-wing, to back the former vice president.
“This election is the most important in the modern history of this country,” he said from his home in Vermont.
“In response to the unprecedented crises we face, we need an unprecedented response – a movement, like never before, of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency – and against greed, oligarchy, and bigotry. And we need Joe Biden as our next president.”
During a night focused on unity, former democratic presidential candidates publicly backed Mr Biden, as did a handful of Republicans.
One of them, former governor of Ohio John Kasich, denounced Mr Trump – and said the love of his party was “second place to my responsibility to my country”.
Mr Trump responded to Mr Kasich’s appearance, saying: “He was a loser as a Republican and he’ll be a loser as a Democrat.”
Apart from backing Mr Biden, the two-hour-long convention livestream also discussed the coronavirus crisis, economic hardship, and racial injustice.
Joe Biden made an early appearance, hosting a virtual roundtable discussion with local leaders on the future of race relations in the US, after a powerful speech by the family of George Floyd – an unarmed black man who was killed when a police officer put a knee on his neck for almost nine minutes.
World Cup-winning footballer Megan Rapinoe also hosted a Zoom-style discussion, asking people to share their stories from the front line of treating coronavirus.
The convention will continue on Tuesday evening, hosted by actress Tracee Ellis Ross, and will feature speeches by Joe Biden’s wife Jill, former president Bill Clinton and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is seen as a rising star in the Democrats.