Armed with the Democratic Party’s nomination, former US Vice President Joe Biden formally launched his battle against President Donald Trump in a “life-changing election”, asserting that he would lead the nation out of “this season of darkness”.
“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 on Thursday night while accepting his party’s nomination.
“United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America,” he said speaking to the party’s virtual convention from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
Like every speaker before him during the four-day convention, Biden accused Trump of plunging the nation into the darkness of divisiveness, hatred and a health and economic crisis.
He said Trump was “a President who takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cosies up to dictators, and fans the flames of hate and division”.
“He failed to protect America. And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.
“America is at an inflection point. A time of real peril, but of extraordinary possibilities
“We can choose a different path, and together, take this chance to heal, to be reborn, to unite. A path of hope and light,” Biden added.
The country was facing a “perfect storm” of four historic crises: the coronavirus pandemic, the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression, climate change and call for racial justice.
He said that he would unite the nation and face the crises, which he said Trump had mismanaged.
“I won’t have to do it alone. Because I will have a great Vice President at my side. Senator Kamala Harris. She is a powerful voice for this nation,” he said.
His suggestions for fighting the coronavirus crisis were nationally mandating the wearing of masks, which in the US may be impossible to enforce, and bringing back manufacturing of essential medical supplies and equipment “so we will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries”.
That was the only mention of China in a speech light on foreign policy which, besides warnings for Russia, had only generalities.
“I will stand always for our values of human rights and dignity. And I will work in common purpose for a more secure, peaceful, and prosperous world.
“I will be a president who will stand with our allies and friends. I will make it clear to our adversaries the days of cosying up to dictators are over.
“Under President Biden, America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers,” he added but made no mention of Pakistan that helped the Taliban and other terrorist organisations that targeted US troops.
“Nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise – voting.”
Former surgeon general Vivek Murthy criticised Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis by ignoring science and contrasted it with Biden’s response to earlier health crisis.
Some of his former rivals for the presidential nomination spoke, rallying support for Biden from their backers.
Former candidate Michael Bloomberg, who owns the financial and news organisation that bears his name, recalled calling Trump a “conman” at the last convention and said: “When Trump says he wants to ‘Make America Great Again’, he’s making a pretty good case for Joe Biden.”
New Jersey Senator Corey Booker brought together some of the candidates who had withdrawn after being outgunned by Biden and likened their group to a meeting of those kicked off the island in the TV reality show “Survivor”.
They pledged their support to Biden.
As is customary, his children and grandchildren put in an appearance to highlight his family values.
Biden himself spoke of his late son Beau, a decorated military veteran of the Iraq War who died of a brain tumour.
“While he is no longer with us, Beau inspires me every day,” he said.
His other son, Hunter, who has been controversial, made an audacious appearance seemingly to challenge the campaign against him meant to embarrass his father.
Hunter was behind the impeachment proceedings against Trump as the president was accused of abusing his powers to make Ukraine investigate his business dealings there.
His business dealings with Chinese government entities that got him a tranche of investments worth about $1.5 billion have also been mentioned by Trump.
Religion, which openly and legally plays a role in US elections, was on display at the session.
Biden spoke of his Catholic faith and how it guides him in a video interview with a protestant clergyman. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the emcee, noted that he was a regular church-goer.
A Roman Catholic nun who said the opening prayer of the session spoke of the commonality of the creation story of the three Abrahamic faiths, Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
The convention concluded with prayers said by an imam, a rabbi and a priest.
The opening prayers and the final blessing at each of the four days of the session was confined to only the representatives of these three religions.
Before Biden’s acceptance speech, Trump showed up near the former Vice President’s birthplace Scranton in Pennsylvania to denounce him.
Preemptively he said that there would be a breakdown of law and order and taxes would go up, bringing down the economy.
Biden had spent his nearly half century in Washington politics “selling out our country” and would impose a permanent lockdown, Trump said.