Former Vice President Joe Biden held a virtual town hall rally in Tampa, Florida that was marred by technical glitches and unusual moments, in which politicians and others didn’t know they were streaming live, birds chirped too loudly, a DJ jammed to music with strobe lights in the background for long periods of time, and Biden himself asked, “Am I on?”
The version of the March 7, 2020 rally posted on Joe Biden’s Facebook page doesn’t contain most of the glitches. It’s far less pixelated, and some of the goofier moments are gone completely. Biden is looking off in the distance when the camera first lands on him in the longer version that’s shown up preserved on YouTube. Then, he walks forward. “They introduce me? Am I on?” he inquires, removing his aviator sunglasses. That part is gone from the version on the campaign’s website.
“I wish we could have done this together, and it had gone a little more smoothly, but I’m grateful we were able to connect virtually,” says Biden when he finally shows up in the video, chuckling mid-sentence. Birds chirp too loudly in the background as Biden criticizes President Trump, saying he lacks empathy.
Here’s the longer version of the video as it appears on YouTube. It’s 48 minutes and 54 seconds long but contains the same speakers in the same sequence.
Here’s the edited version of the video as it appears on Biden’s Facebook page. It’s 33 minutes and 5 seconds long.
The event was pitched as a “Biden for President Virtual Rally in Tampa, FL.”
“Today we hit the campaign trail — virtually. Join me live as we wrap up the day with a rally in Tampa, Florida,” wrote Biden on Facebook.
The memes flew.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Unedited Version Is Marred By Glitches & People Who Didn’t Realize They Were Live
Florida Chair of the Democrat party Terrie Rizzo starts the video. It doesn’t take long for her to pixelate.
“There’s hope for America and that hope is Joe Biden,” she says as the video turns glitchy. “…the road to the White House goes directly through Florida.”
Next comes a Jesuit High School student reading the Pledge of Allegiance. That part goes fine in the edited version, but it doesn’t go so well in the unedited version. In the latter, Rizzo appears again without talking. The student, Jack Kirk’s, name, appears on the bottom of the screen.
Kirk finally shows up but doesn’t appear to realize the camera is on him, and for a time all you see is his hand. Finally, he realizes he’s on screen. “Oh,” he says, and says the pledge.
Larry Bowden, a regional organizing director, speaks next. Everything is fine at that point. “No matter what has been thrown at him, he’s continued to take it in stride,” says Bowden, unmarred by glitches.
Next, fairly bizarrely, the video cuts to a DJ named Jack Henriquez, who bobs his head for a long duration while wearing black sunglasses in a disco strobe light filled room. He seems like he’s chewing gum and looking at everything but the camera at times. That starts at 7 minutes in. Eventually photos of Biden appear on the screen with more music. This goes on for many minutes. At 11 minutes in, this is still going on. At 13 minutes in, Henriquez is back, jamming alone in a room. At about 14 minutes in, he too starts to pixelate.
This goes on. And on. And on. It ends at about 16 minutes in.
The video goes in and out.
Then Florida state Sen. Janet Cruz shows up. She doesn’t speak for some time, also seemingly unaware her turn has arrived. She says nothing, just staring at the screen, before it cuts to a placeholder for a long time. Finally, she speaks. She is far less pixelated in the campaign version.
“Welcome to our wonderful hometown, Tampa,” she says before launching into a lengthy statement, frequently looking down at notes and periodically pixelating so badly she looks unrecognizable.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist, Congressman in Florida, is then announced. He doesn’t get that he’s live on video either. At one point, he sniffles and wipes his mouth, still blissfully unaware. He’s hard to understand because the video is so glitchy. Then, at about 23 minutes in, he cuts out completely. “That is the strength of this man,” he continues talking, about Biden. But there’s no video for a long stretch, just a black screen.
He stops talking but the screen is still black. For many minutes. Finally, Congresswoman Kathy Castor appears around 32 minutes in. The video is glitchy and pixelated again.
At long last, Biden appears.
“I wish that we could have done this together and it had gone a little more smoothly,” he admits.
“We’re the movement that will beat Donald Trump,” the narrator says in the campaign’s version, over a montage of photos and clips of various presidential candidates.