Biden vows to end ‘season of darkness’ as he accepts Democratic nomination

Candidate quotes Heaney’s ‘The Cure at Troy’ and the moment ‘when hope and history rhyme’

Joe Biden, the Democratic nomination for US president, pledges to be a 'president for all Americans' during his convention speech. Video: Reuters

 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has urged Americans to unite behind his candidacy, as he vowed to end “the season of darkness” represented by Donald Trump.

In a speech that was seen by many as the best of his political career, Mr Biden pledged to be a president for all Americans. “We can and will overcome this season of darkness in America,” he said as he formally accepted his party’s nomination for president.

“The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. 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 the darkness,” he said.

Without mentioning Donald Trump once by name during his acceptance speech, Mr Biden said the current president had “failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He has failed to protect us. He has failed to protect America.”

Much of his speech focused on the current coronavirus pandemic, directly speaking to Americans who have lost loved ones to the virus.

“I know something about grief. I now that deep black hole that opens up in your chest, that you feel your whole being is sucked into it. Your loved one may have left this earth, but they’ll never leave your heart,” he said.

“After all this time, the president still does not have a plan. Well I do.”

Mr Biden also set out some of his policy priorities, including his promise to implement an economic plan with job creation at its heart, and his pledge to reinstate America’s foreign policy credentials.

This is a great nation. We are good and decent people. For God’s sake, this is the president of the United States

“The days of cozying up to dictators is over. Under president Biden America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers. Nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise - voting.”

He referenced the events in Charlottesville three years ago, when Donald Trump said there were good people on “both sides” at a white supremacist rally. That was the moment he decided to run for president, he said.

Quoting Seamus Heaney’s “The Cure at Troy,” he spoke about the moment “when hope and history rhyme.”

“This is a great nation. We are good and decent people. For God’s sake, this is the president of the United States.

He described the forthcoming presidential election is a “life-changing election that will determine America’s future for a very long time.”

“Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy - they are all on the ballot. Who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and, most importantly, who we want to be. That’s all on the ballot,” he said.

“And the choice could not be clearer. No rhetoric is needed - just judge this president on the facts.”

Mr Trump, who earlier in the day held a campaign event in rural Philadelphia near where Mr Biden was born, tweeted during his presidential rival’s speech: “In 47 years, Joe did none of the things of which he now speaks. He will never change, just words!”

Mr Biden’s acceptance speech capped the final night of the four-day Democratic National Convention which took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Much of the final night showcased Biden’s leadership and experience, with appearances by his children Ashley and Hunter and grand-children.

But there were plenty of direct jibes at the current president of the United States.

The event was moderated by actor and comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played the vice-president in the hit tv series Veep.

Following an excerpt highlighting Mr Biden’s faith, she said: “Just remember. Joe Biden goes to church so regularly that he doesn’t even need tear gas and a bunch of federalized troops to help him get there.”

Sarah Cooper, who has shot to internet fame for her voice-over impersonations of Donald Trump, made a direct appeal to people to vote in November, while the Chicks, formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, delivered an acapella version of the National Anthem.

Mr Biden’s track record supporting military families was also highlighted, with the convention hearing from two veterans - senator Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs in Iraq, and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana who served in Afghanistan.

Ms Duckworth said America currently as a “coward-in-chief” in Mr Trump.

“As president, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet on a string. Joe Biden would never threaten to use our military against peaceful Americans. Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common sense and common decency.”

Mr Buttigieg noted that when he served in the military ten years ago, it was policy to fire gay people. “Now in 2020, it is unlawful in America to fire anyone because of who they are or who they love. The very ring on my finger reflects how this country can change.”

In a group pastiche, seven of Mr Biden’s former rivals for the presidential nomination appeared together and talked about their one-time rival, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Former vice president Joe Biden, Democratic presidential nominee (left) left, and senator Kamala Harris, Democratic vice presidential nominee, wear protective masks while holding hands outside the Chase Center during the Democratic National Convention in Delaware last night. Photograph: Bloomberg
Former vice president Joe Biden, Democratic presidential nominee (left) left, and senator Kamala Harris, Democratic vice presidential nominee, wear protective masks while holding hands outside the Chase Center during the Democratic National Convention in Delaware last night. Photograph: Bloomberg

“At this particular moment in America history my God this is so important.

Whether have got to come together to defeat the president.

The final night of the convention also heard from Mike Bloomberg, the former presidential candidate and mayor of New York. Mr Bloomberg questioned Mr Trump’s business credentials.

“Trump says we should vote for him because he’s a great businessman. Really?! He drove his companies into bankruptcy six times, always leaving behind customers and contractors who were cheated and swindled and stopped doing business with him. Well, this time, all of us are paying the price. And we can’t let him get away with it again.”

Mr Trump hit out at Mr Bloomberg shortly after. “After the worst debate performance in the history of politics, Michael Bloomberg, commonly known as Mini Mike, is trying to make a comeback by begging the Democrats for relevance. They treated him like a dog - and always will. Before politics, he said GREAT things about me!”

Also on Thursday night, 13 year-old Brayden Harrington spoke about how Biden had helped him with his stutter, after he met him at a campaign event in New Hampshire this year. Biden himself overcame a childhood stammer.