Biden accepts US presidential nomination, vows to tackle virus, racism

Democratic convention tries to unite party's liberal and moderate wings against Trump

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden greeting supporters with his wife Jill (far left) and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris outside the Chase Centre in Wilmington, Delaware, at the end of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday. Th
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden greeting supporters with his wife Jill (far left) and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris outside the Chase Centre in Wilmington, Delaware, at the end of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday. The convention was largely virtual, featuring socially distanced speeches and ceremonies, and more personal messages from ordinary Americans and party leaders across the country. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Former United States vice-president Joe Biden has accepted the Democratic Party's nomination to run for president, vowing to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and to bring together a deeply divided country undergoing a national reckoning on race.

Mr Biden, 77, ended the four-day Democratic National Convention (DNC) on Thursday with a message of unity and a promise to represent all Americans if he was elected.

"History has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments America has ever faced," he said in his acceptance speech, delivered live from a convention centre in Wilmington, Delaware, the state he represented as a senator from 1973 to 2009.

"The worst pandemic in over 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The most compelling call for racial justice since the '60s. And the undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change," he said.

Driving home a message delivered multiple times over the four days of the DNC, Mr Biden said: "This 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."

This year's DNC was largely virtual, featuring socially distanced speeches and ceremonies, and more personal messages from ordinary Americans and party leaders across the country.

It strove to bring together the Democratic Party's liberal and moderate wings in opposition against Republican President Donald Trump, while appealing to swing voters and disaffected Republicans not to sit out the election.

After two previous unsuccessful runs for president and a campaign that floundered in the early stages of the primary contests, Mr Biden is now the Democratic nominee and current front runner, with California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Recent polls place Mr Biden between 7 and 11 points ahead of Mr Trump, whose approval ratings have been hurt by the protests against racial injustice this year and his handling of the pandemic.

The US leads the world in confirmed cases and deaths, said Mr Biden, adding that as president, he would implement mask-wearing and other elements of his national strategy, including developing and rolling out rapid tests.

Laying out his vision for rebuilding the US economy, Mr Biden promised to invest in infrastructure and affordable healthcare, childcare and eldercare, boost wages and deal with climate change.

His administration would pay for these investments by making the wealthiest people and biggest corporations in the US pay their fair share, he said, in a direct criticism of the Trump administration's tax cuts.

A LOT AT STAKE

History has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments America has ever faced. The worst pandemic in over 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The most compelling call for racial justice since the '60s. And the undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change... This 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.

MR JOE BIDEN, former United States vice-president, in his acceptance speech, delivered live from a convention centre in Wilmington, Delaware, the state he represented as a senator from 1973 to 2009.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump held a rally in Mr Biden's birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania, calling his opponent "a puppet of the radical left".

"If you want a vision of your life under a Joe Biden presidency, imagine the smouldering ruins of Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland and the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago coming to every city and town in America," said Mr Trump, referring to protests in the Democrat-led cities that took place during his presidency, as well as gang-related violence in Chicago.

The DNC featured many rebuttals of Mr Trump's character and policies. Military veteran and Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, whose legs were amputated after she was injured in the Iraq War, slammed Mr Trump as a "coward-in-chief" who was unsupportive of US troops and weak against adversaries.

In brief remarks on foreign policy, Mr Biden said he would stand with the US' allies and friends and "make it clear to our adversaries the days of cosying up to dictators are over".

Mr Biden, who would be the oldest president in US history if elected, also acknowledged the concerns of young activists, from climate change to gun control, and their cries for racial justice and condemnation of economic inequality.

Mr Biden recounted how Mr Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacists at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in 2017 spurred him to run for president.

"However it has come to be, America is ready to... do the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism," he said. "In this dark moment, I believe we are poised to make great progress again."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2020, with the headline 'Biden accepts US presidential nomination, vows to tackle virus, racism'. Subscribe