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Joe Biden accepts the Democratic presidential nomination in DNC finale

Driven by the courage of John Lewis, the determination of health care workers and the promise of children uncertain about school, former Vice President Joe Biden formally accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president Thursday and vowed to restore dignity and purpose to the Oval Office.

With support from union leaders, scientists, entertainers and activists, Biden promised to take the fight for America’s soul straight to President Trump in the home stretch of a race to lead a nation beset by disease, economic stress and racial strife.

“Here and now I give you my word,” Biden told America. “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. It’s time for us, for we the people, to come together. And make no mistake — united, we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America. We’ll choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.

“I’m a proud Democrat. And I’ll be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. It’s with great honor and humility (that) I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America.”

With a speech equal parts self-portrait and selfless call to arms, Biden told America that he was uniquely qualified to get the country back on its feet after four years of Trump’s chaotic rule.

It was the biggest speech of Biden’s five decades in politics, and capped his third bid for the Democratic presidential nod.

After a moving tribute to his family and his beloved son Beau, 46, who died from brain cancer in 2015, Biden told Americans the story of how his working-class upbringing and a life tinged with tragedy made him the best leader for a country in the grip of cascading and overlapping crises.

Biden touted his ability to fight the coronavirus pandemic with data and science. He vowed to rescue the economy as he did alongside former President Barack Obama during the Great Recession of a decade ago. And he promised to bring a calm presence back to the Oval Office.

Above all, Biden presented himself as someone who understood Americans’ pain as they coped with the biggest threats to their personal well-being in years — or perhaps decades.

“This is a life-changing election,” Biden said. “This will determine what America’s going to look like for a long, long time. Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy — they’re 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. And the choice could not be more clear.”

Biden vowed to get control of the pandemic that has killed more than 170,000 Americans.

“We’ll have a national mandate to wear masks not as a burden but as a patriotic duty to protect one another,” Biden said. “In short, we’ll do what we should have done from the very beginning.

“Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He’s failed to protect us. He’s failed to protect America. And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable. As president, I’ll make you a promise: I’ll protect America. I’ll defend us from every attack, seen and unseen, always, without exception, every time.”

Biden’s speech was the climax of a grueling campaign that featured one of the most diverse fields in presidential primary history. In the end, they put unity first, singing Biden’s praises in harmony, determined to drive Trump out of office.

“When confronted with the biggest calamity any president has faced in the modern era, Donald Trump spent the year downplaying the threat, ignoring science and recommending quack cures which let COVID-19 spread much faster than it should have, leaving hundreds of thousands needlessly sick or dead,” said former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who made his own White House bid. “He has failed the American people catastrophically.”

Among his former opponents was California Sen. Kamala Harris, who challenged him during a debate about his stance on school busing, and his willingness to compromise with segregationists in Congress.

Still, Biden selected Harris as his running mate, giving her a chance to make history if she becomes the first Black woman to be vice president.

Democrats wrapped up Day Four of their virtual convention with a tribute to civil rights hero John Lewis, a Georgia congressman from Atlanta who died last month. Biden was also saluted by military veterans who said America deserves a stronger leader.

“Donald Trump doesn’t deserve to call himself commander-in-chief for another four minutes let alone another four years,” said Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a helicopter pilot, who lost both her legs after her chopper was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the Iraq War in 2004. “Our troops deserve better.”

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus hosted the night, and leaned on her comedic background to give levity to the most serious of events.

“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,” Louis-Dreyfus said.

Even without the cheering crowds and funny hats, the new-look DNC mostly got positive reviews. Its biggest political stars mostly turned in supporting-role performances to Biden’s star turn.

Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama took dead aim at Trump as a failed leader. Hillary Clinton, the last standard-bearer, warned about the dangers of taking voters for granted.

Harris, the newly minted vice presidential nominee, made a soaring debut on the national political scene.

But Thursday it was Biden’s night, after all these years, and he made the most of it.

“This campaign isn’t just about winning votes,” Biden said. “It’s about winning the heart, and yes, the soul of America. Winning it for the generous among us, not the selfish. Winning it for workers who keep this country going, not just the privileged few at the top. Winning it for those communities who have known the injustice of a knee on a neck; for all the young people who have known America being rising inequity and shrinking opportunity. They deserve the experience of America’s promise.”

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