Bill Clinton mocks Donald Trump's 'hours' of TV watching and White House chaos in convention speech

Clinton says Trump will continue to 'blame, bully and belittle' if given a second term

Bill Clinton has mocked Donald Trump for spending hours a day watching TV and creating “chaos” at the White House in a Democratic convention speech as Joe Biden formally became the party’s 2020 presidential nominee. 

Mr Clinton, the former US president, was only given around five minutes on camera and had a speaking slot far less prominent than in past conventions but used his time to deliver a sharp summation of the case against Mr Trump.

He focussed on the coronavirus crisis and how America has fared worse than other countries, noting that despite having just four per cent of the world’s population the US has 25 per cent of global Covid-19 cases. 

"At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command centre. Instead, it’s a storm centre. There’s only chaos," Mr Clinton said. 

"Just one thing never changes - his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there." 

Mr Clinton said of Mr Trump: “Now you have to decide whether to renew his contract or hire someone else. If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man. 

“Denying, distracting, and demeaning works great if you’re trying to entertain and inflame. But in a real crisis, it collapses like a house of cards.”

Mr Clinton highlighted Mr Biden’s role, while Barack Obama's vice president, in turning a deep recession after the 2008 financial crash into a growing economy given to Mr Trump - a critical part of the Democratic economic message. 

He also compared Mr Trump’s instincts to “blame, bully, and belittle” with Mr Biden’s promise to “build back better” in office, one of the nominee’s campaign slogans which has been repeated throughout the convention so far. 

Biden formally crowned

The second night of the Democratic convention saw another two hours of programming which featured the formal adoption of Mr Biden, 77, as the party’s 2020 presidential nominee. 

Due to coronavirus the entire convention has been taken online, meaning the traditional in-person pledging of delegates from the 50 US states and seven US overseas territories took on a twist. 

Delegates from each of the areas gave a short video to camera, some with tongue-in-cheek messages and others giving more moving appeals, as they declared who was getting their support. 

Joe Biden with his wife Jill on screen during the Democratic convention's second night Credit: AFP via Getty Images

Rhodes Island’s video featured a man with a plate of calamari, a signature dish in the state. Pennsylvania’s message was shot outside Mr Biden’s childhood home in Scranton. 

At the final tally Mr Biden got 3,558 delegates and Bernie Sanders, the left-wing senator from Vermont, was on 1,151 delegates - though in reality the race effectively ended back in April when Mr Sanders pulled out. 

Mr Biden appeared on screen alongside his wife Jill and grandchildren surrounded by balloons as he was confirmed as the nominee. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said. 

The moment comes 32 years after he first ran for president and sets in stone his nomination to take on Mr Trump at the election on November 3. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the left-wing congressman for New York, gave a brief speech formally nominating Mr Sanders for the nomination, thought did not speak out Mr Biden. 

Jill Biden opens up

Much of Tuesday's programming was spent expanding on Mrs Biden’s personal story, through first a film about her life and then a speech to close the evening’s proceedings. 

Mr Biden lost his first wife and one-year-old daughter in a car accident in 1972, leaving his two young sons who survived the crash, Beau and Hunter, without a mother. 

Mr Biden talked of the impact Jill, his second wife, had once they were married. “She put us back together. She gave me back my life. She gave me back a family,” he said. 

Mrs Biden, an English teacher who has already experienced the White House during her eight years as second lady, gave her own address singing the praises of her husband. 

Appearing at the school at which she taught, Brandywine High School, Mrs Biden linked her family’s story to that of the nation in a speech filled with personal stories. 

Speaking of the early years of their marriage, she said: “We found that love holds a family together. Love makes us flexible and resilient. It allows us to become more than ourselves - together. And though it can’t protect us from the sorrows of life, it gives us refuge a home.

“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding - and with small acts of kindness. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

Mrs Biden, 69, also spoke of the passing of Mr Biden’s eldest son Beau, to cancer in 2015. Mr Biden was vice president at the time. He has said the tragedy stopped his plans to run for the presidency in 2016. 

“After our son, Beau, died of cancer, I wondered if I would ever smile or feel joy again. It was summer but there was no warmth left for me,” Mrs Biden said. 

“Four days after Beau’s funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit. I saw him steel himself in the mirror - take a breath - put his shoulders back - and walk out into a world empty of our son. He went back to work. That’s just who he is.”

Grandees weigh in

Grandees from both sides of the aisle also appeared to speak up in favour of Mr Biden, including two other Democrats beyond Mr Clinton who have sought the White House. 

Jimmy Carter, the former US president now aged 95, said: “Joe has the experience, character, and decency to bring us together and restore America’s greatness. We deserve a person with integrity and judgment.”

John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, said: “Before Donald Trump, we used to talk about American exceptionalism. The only thing exceptional about the incoherent Trump foreign policy is that it has made our nation more isolated than ever before.”

But there were also leading Republicans, including Colin Powell, the former secretary of state to George W Bush. His speech was not announced before Tuesday.

Mr Powell had previously said he would be voting for Mr Biden and has become disillusioned with the Republican Party, endorsing both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the presidency, but remains a well-known GOP name. 

“Joe Biden will be a president we will all be proud to salute. With Joe Biden in the White House, you will never doubt that he will stand with our friends and stand up to our adversaries - never the other way around,” Mr Powell said. 

An unexpected appearance

While much of the night’s programme, themed around leadership, focussed on Mr Trump’s foreign policy and national security expertise, there were also more human touches. 

One of the two people who formally put forward Mr Biden for the presidential nomination on Tuesday evening was an African-American security guard he encountered during the campaign trial. 

Jacquelyn Brittany had been involved in a clip that went viral during the Demcratic primaries when she was caught saying “I love you” unprompted to Mr Biden as he travelled in a New York Times elevator ahead of an interview. 

She said on Tuesday night: “I take powerful people up in my elevator all the time. When they get off, they go to their important meetings. Me, I just head back to the lobby. 

“But in the short time I spent with Joe Biden, I could tell he really saw me. That he actually cared. That my life meant something to him.  And I knew, even when he went into his important meeting, he’d take my story in there with him.”