Joe Biden officially accepted the Democratic nomination in a speech largely centered on the coronavirus crisis — from the economic devastation and mass death it has caused, to the inequalities it has laid bare, to his campaign-defining argument that President Trump "has failed in his most basic duty to the nation: He's failed to protect us."

Why it matters: After three presidential runs, 36 years in the U.S. Senate, and eight years in the White House as vice president, tonight marked the most important speech of Biden's career — kicking off a 74-day sprint to what will be, in his words, a "life-changing" election.

Highlights

Introduction

  • "The current president has cloaked American anger for far too long. Too much anger, too much division. Here and now I give you my word — if you entrust me with the presidency, I’ll draw on the best of us, not the worst.
  • "I’ll draw on the light, not the darkness. It’s time for us, for we the people to come together, and make no mistake, we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America. We’ll choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.”

Coronavirus

  • "No rhetoric is needed. Just judge this president on the facts. Five million Americans infected by COVID-19. More than 170,000 Americans have died. By far, the worst performance of any nation on Earth. More than 50 million people have filed for unemployment this year. More than 10 million people are going to lose their health insurance this year. Nearly one in six small businesses have closed this year."
  • "And this president, if he is re-elected, you know what will happen. Cases and deaths will remain far too high. More mom and pop businesses will close their doors, this time for good. Working families will struggle to get by. And yet the wealthiest 1% will get tens of billions of dollars in new tax breaks. And the assault on the affordable care act will continue until it is destroyed."
  • "Our economy is in tatters, with Black, Latino, Asian American, and Native American communities bearing the brunt of it. And after all this time, the president still does not have a plan. Well, I do. If I'm president on day one we'll implement the national strategy I've been laying out since March. We'll develop and deploy rapid tests with results available immediately."
  • "We'll make the medical supplies and protective equipment our country needs. And we'll make them here in America. So we will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries in order to protect our own people. We'll make sure our schools have the resources they need to be open, safe, and effective."
  • "We'll put the politics aside and take the muzzle off our experts so the public gets the information they need and deserve. The honest, unvarnished truth. They can deal with that. We'll have a national mandate to wear a mask-not as a burden, but to protect each other. It's a patriotic duty."

Racism

  • "Just a week ago yesterday was the third anniversary of the events in Charlottesville. Remember seeing those neo-Nazis and Klansmen and white supremacists coming out of the fields with lighted torches? Veins bulging? Spewing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the '30s?"
  • "Remember the violent clash that ensued between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it? Remember what the president said? There were quote, "very fine people on both sides." It was a wake-up call for us as a country. And for me, a call to action. At that moment, I knew I’d have to run."
  • "One of the most important conversations I've had this entire campaign is with someone who is too young to vote. I met with six-year old Gianna Floyd, a day before her Daddy George Floyd was laid to rest. She is incredibly brave. I’ll never forget. When I leaned down to speak with her, she looked into my eyes and said "Daddy, changed the world."
  • "Her words burrowed deep into my heart. Maybe George Floyd's murder was the breaking point. Maybe John Lewis' passing the inspiration. However it has come to be, America is ready to in John's words, to lay down "the heavy burdens of hate at last" and to do the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism."

The bottom line: "May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation," Biden concluded. "And this is a battle that we, together, will win. I promise you."

Go deeper

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