Last night, Wisconsinites gathered in their cars to watch Joe Biden accept the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. Biden for President hosted a drive-in where Wisconsin supporters, activists, and volunteers could watch the Democratic National Convention live.

This followed a week of Wisconsin virtual events around the convention, where tens of thousands of voters across the state tuned into programming such as:

  • Out for Biden LGBTQ Organizing Launch with Congressman Mark Pocan and Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) CEO Joe Solmonese
  • Milwaukee Welcome Pre-Program with Mayor Tom Barrett, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez
  • Rural Wisconsin Roundtable with former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Congressman Ron Kind
  • Youth Vote Rally with Ashley Biden and State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski
  • Todos con Biden Organizing Event with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Ana Navarro, and DNC Chair Tom Perez
  • Women for Biden Pre-Program with Ashley Biden, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Black Faith Leader Roundtable with House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver
  • Voter Protection Rally with Voting Rights Advocate Stacey Abrams, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Attorney General Josh Kaul, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
  • Watch Party with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Governor Tony Evers, and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes

Prior to accepting the Democratic nomination, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Biden spoke with the people of Wisconsin watching the convention pre-program:

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Thursday evening in taped remarks to Wisconsin supporters that he wishes he and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, could be in Milwaukee in person to celebrate.

“This November, Wisconsin can stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough is enough,'” Biden said. “This is our chance, not just to overcome this pandemic but to dig our way out of this economic crisis and build back better than we were before.”

Wisconsin is expected to play a crucial role in November’s election, when Biden and Harris will be challenging President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Biden stressed the importance of the state in his remarks.

A crowd of supporters gathered in the Milwaukee County Zoo parking lot for a drive-in watch party.

“There’s so much we can accomplish if we do it together,” Biden said. “We can’t do it without you, Wisconsin.”

He also praised Wisconsinites’ perseverance.
“I also know the character of Wisconsinites,” Biden said. “I know that we’re going to get through this.”

Biden said Trump has “turned his back on Wisconsin” and doesn’t understand Wisconsinites’ character.

WSAW outlined the pre-program’s message to Wisconsinites — the importance of turning out to vote:

Several Wisconsin leaders, including Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Governor Tony Evers, and Senator Tammy Baldwin spoke during the pre-show, and besides the obvious message they had to share with viewers, encouraging them to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the other message that was clear was Wisconsin’s importance in the 2020 Presidential Election.

“I’ve had the blessing to vote for president many, many times,” Governor Evers said during his pre-show address. “This is easily the most important election ever.”

Lieutenant Governor Barnes had a similar message.

“In about 75 days,” the Lieutenant Governor said, “the people of this state will quite literally determine the outcome of the most critical election of our lifetime.”

Senators Baldwin and Warren matched that message, Senator Baldwin saying in part “Not to put too much weight on everyone’s shoulders, but we have a job to do.”

“We need everyone to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” added Senator Warren.

Wisconsin Public Radio highlighted participants’ excitement and the Biden campaign’s efforts to protect public health:

Marlene Sukkert was among the Biden supporters, volunteers and activists who had received an invitation to the event. She had put on her “Nasty Woman” t-shirt and driven her maroon convertible decorated with American flags to the zoo to watch the convention with her friend Caroline Slatter.

“This is awesome. It’s an opportunity to just be with people who just have the same mindset, and I’m glad we’re here,” Sukkert said.


State Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, was also present. She said she’s grateful to Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris — Biden’s chosen running mate — for prioritizing safety over their campaign. The Biden campaign has made a point of avoiding rallies and door-to-door campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neubauer said Thursday’s event gave everyone a chance to celebrate together.

“I wanted to be able to wave, even with masks on, to other friends, across the parking lot, to people who are as excited as I am about Joe Biden,” Neubauer said. “We love the energy that we’re seeing from folks from their kitchen tables at home, but it’s great to see the energy here as well.”

Joe Biden delivered last night, and the Wisconsin State Journal noted the enthusiasm from the audience and the seriousness of the moment as we navigate a global pandemic with failed leadership from the White House:

Campaign volunteers handed out DNC buttons, American flags and Biden/Harris signs as attendees honked their horns instead of cheering, and waved blue glow sticks out of their vehicles. Speakers, including U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, of Milwaukee, and U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin, of Madison, and Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, made their appeals in support of the Biden-Harris ticket to homes that tuned in across the country.

As the Democratic nominee appeared on the screen just before 10 p.m., the cacophony of car horns fell silent to hear what their presidential hopeful had to say.

Throughout the speech, attendees alternated between honks of excited approval and spellbound silence as Biden invoked past presidents and issued a scathing indictment against the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation, he’s failed to protect us,” Biden said. “My fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.”

Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Matt Smith, WISN

Corri Hess, Wisconsin Public Radio 

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