Joe Biden, after nearly a half-century on the American political scene, Thursday night accepted the Democratic nomination to seek the U.S presidency in the November 3 election, telling Americans it was time to oust Republican President Donald Trump after one term in the White House.
“United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America,” Biden declared as the United States faces the unrelenting coronavirus pandemic and millions of workers have lost their jobs. “We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege."
In a nearly half-hour speech, Biden contended that Trump “takes no responsibility” for the spread of the infectious disease and “refuses to lead.”
“After all this time,” Biden said, “this president still doesn’t have a plan” to fight the pandemic. “He failed to protect America. And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.”
Biden’s speech, from an event center in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, came on the fourth and final night of the virtual Democratic National Convention, a collection of taped and live presentations extolling Biden and assailing Trump’s presidency.
Trump and Republicans will have a rejoinder at their virtual four-day national convention starting Monday. But Trump, in a visit Thursday to Old Forge, Pennsylvania, near Biden’s boyhood home of Scranton, forecast the coming Republican attacks.
“If you want a vision of your life under [a] Biden presidency, think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago, and imagine the mayhem coming to your town and every single town in America,” Trump told supporters hours ahead of the Biden speech.
Biden, for 36 years a U.S. senator and eight years a vice president under former President Barack Obama, never once mentioned Trump by name but repeatedly attacked his 3½ years as the U.S. leader.
Biden accused Trump of cozying up to dictators overseas while diminishing relations with traditional allies, threatening the financial stability of pensions and health care for older Americans and particularly for his failure to address long-standing concerns about racial injustice in the U.S.
Biden recalled the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, three years ago this month in which torch-carrying white nationalists chanted “Jews will not replace us … white lives matter!” in opposition to demonstrators calling for racial equality.
Biden remembered Trump assessing the demonstration by saying there were “very fine people on both sides."
Now, Biden said, it is time to do “the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism” in the United States.
“I have always believed you can define America in one word: Possibilities,” Biden said, “That in America, everyone, and I mean everyone, should be given the opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them.”
Biden said, “The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.
“Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us not the worst. I will be an ally of the light not of the darkness,” he said.
Biden said that if Trump, the real-estate-baron-turned-politician and onetime reality-TV star who won an upset victory in the 2016 election, wins again, “He will be what he's been the last four years. ... He will wake up every day believing the job is all about him. Never about you.”
Democrats were forced to abandon their planned convention with thousands of people jammed into a basketball arena in the Midwestern city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, because of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed in the United States a world-leading total of 174,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Biden, if he wins the November 3 election and is inaugurated next January, would be 78, the oldest-ever U.S. president, topping Trump, who is 74.
But Biden bested two dozen other Democrats, all but one of them younger than him, to win his party’s nomination on his third run for the presidency, after failed attempts in 1988 and 2008.
Vice presidential candidate
Months ago, Biden promised to choose a woman as his vice presidential running mate. He tapped California Senator Kamala Harris last week after a weekslong vetting process of numerous possibilities. Harris was a historic choice in U.S. political annals, the first Black woman and South Asian American on a national party ticket in the U.S.
Several of the Democrats Biden defeated in the string of party primaries and caucuses earlier this year, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, gave convention speeches this week supporting the ticket.
One of them, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, told viewers on the last night of the convention, “I have gotten to know both Joe and Kamala on the trail over the past year – the way you really get to know a person when the cameras are off, the crowds are gone, and it’s just you and them.
“They understand the problems we face,” Yang said. “They are parents and patriots who want the best for our country. And if we give them the chance, they will fight for us and our families every single day.”
Another former Biden opponent turned supporter, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said, “I’m telling you to vote against (Trump) because he’s done a bad job. He spends more time tweeting than working. Let’s put an end to this whole sorry chapter in American history.”
On previous nights, Biden advocates, most notably former President Obama and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, assailed Trump as a failed U.S. leader, while some prominent Republicans also voiced their support for Biden, including former Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Numerous speakers at the Democratic conclave praised Biden’s decency and common man approach to public life, saying he possesses empathy for the problems of others that they said Trump has been incapable of showing.
They noted that Biden has overcome major losses in his life, including the deaths of his first wife and young daughter in a 1972 car accident and more recently, in 2015, the death of his eldest son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, from brain cancer.