Updated August 20, 2020 - 9:04 pm
WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden accepted the Democratic nomination for president Thursday with a message of unity and hope for a nation battered by racial strife and a pandemic that has left death and economic insecurity.
Saying history has delivered one of the most difficult moments the country has ever faced, Biden offered himself as a leader for all.
“The end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light join in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden, 77, said in a speech at the Chase Center in a program that was nationally televised.
Biden, a former vice president and senator, turned his sights on President Donald Trump, whom he never mentioned by name. But Biden made the upcoming election a referendum on the current president’s “failure to protect us.”
“He’s failed to protect America, and my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable,” Biden said.
As president, Biden pledged to implement a national plan to rebuild the country following the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 170,000 Americans and left 50 million unemployed.
Residents in Wilmington watched the proceedings from a large screen placed outside the Chase Center, which was closed to public access because of the pandemic.
After the speech, Biden appeared outside with his wife, Jill, and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, to honks of car horns and fireworks that showered over the Chase Center and Christina River.
The acceptance speech capped a four-day virtual Democratic National Convention that highlighted Biden’s platform to address racial injustice, climate change, gun control and violence against women, and to unify the country.
A technical showcase, the virtual convention replaced the crowd shots of delegates with hats, political buttons and banners.
It used scripted recorded segments that showcased Democratic leaders from electorally important states like Nevada, which are needed to win the White House.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Rep. Dina Titus and state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, all Nevada Democrats, had roles in the confab.
Titus was the first member of Congress to endorse Biden from one of the four early Democratic primary and caucus states. His second place victory in the Nevada caucus catapulted him into South Carolina where he won his first primary and went on to win the nomination.
“I’m proud of what we did in Nevada,” Titus said, who was featured in the roll call of delegates that officially nominated Biden on Tuesday night.
The roll call was a visual collage of prominent places in the United States, such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama, a touchstone of the civil rights movement, and lighter imagery including “Calamari Comeback State” of Rhode Island and the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign in Nevada.
“He knows Nevada. He’s been here,” said Titus in a telephone call from Las Vegas, who recalled taking Biden to the Strip this year where workers “swarmed” him for photographs and chats.
“I feel the energy,” said Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev. She said it is abundantly clear that the Democratic message is to be the “best of ourselves.”
Trump in Pennsylvania
Trump traveled to neighboring Pennsylvania, another critical state, on Thursday, where he told a campaign audience in Old Forge that a vote for Biden would be a vote for socialism and lawlessness.
“If you want a vision of your life under a Biden presidency, think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago and imagine the mayhem coming to our town and every single time in America,” Trump said.
Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald said the Democratic ticket “promises an extreme social agenda that will destroy our economy and and take away our rights.”
“The past four days of the Democrat National Convention have shown Nevadans just how out of touch Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the Democrat Party are with reality,” McDonald said.
Trump will have his turn in the spotlight next week when the Republican National Convention holds its nominating convention. Trump is expected to give his acceptance speech from the White House.
In a live videoconference call with supporters, Biden was empathetic, asking in a conversation about the health of a firefighter in Mission, Texas, and pledging $2 trillion in infrastructure spending to bring people back to work.
Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, a predominantly Black city. Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972.
As a senator, Biden launched presidential bids in 1987 and 2007, but bowed out of both without winning the nomination of the Democratic Party.
After losses in Iowa and New Hampshire this year, Biden scratched out a second-place finish in the Nevada caucuses and won the South Carolina primary that catapulted him to win the Democratic nomination.
“He was the person we needed at the time, and no beating around the bush,” Titus, a liberal lawmaker, said of her endorsement of Biden this year.
She said Nevada needs him, and the country does as well.
His closest rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed Biden during the convention this week and called on his progressive following to cast their vote to defeat Trump at the polls on Nov. 3.
Other Democratic rivals also appeared Thursday and during the week to throw their support behind Biden, who on the third attempt, won the Democratic presidential nomination.