Joe Biden: 'Donald Trump has failed to protect America'

21 August 2020, 08:08

By Megan White

Joe Biden said Donald Trump has failed to protect America as he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former vice president to Barack Obama addressed his fellow Democrats and millions of Americans at home who he hopes will send him to the White House to replace Donald Trump.

Mr Biden vowed to unite an America torn by crisis and contempt as he spoke of President Donald Trump’s failure “in his basic duty to the nation."

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He said: “Our current President has failed in his basic duty to the nation.

“He has failed to protect us, he has failed to protect America. And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.

“As President, I’ll make you a promise. I’ll protect America, I will defend us from every attack, seen and unseen, always, without exception, every time.”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention. Picture: PA

However his triumphant moment was drained of immediate drama by the coronavirus pandemic, which left him speaking to a nearly empty arena rather than a to a joyously cheering crowd.

He said: "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'll be an ally of the light, not our darkness.

"And make no mistake, we'll overcome this season of darkness in America."

The pandemic has fundamentally altered the campaign but Mr Biden pointed to the public health emergency and the severe economic fallout to turn traits previously seen as vulnerabilities - a long career spent in elected office - into an advantage by presenting himself as a competent leader.

The night's keynote address was the speech of a lifetime for Biden, who at 77 would be the oldest president ever elected if he defeats Mr Trump in November.

Mr Biden's positive focus on Thursday night marked a break from the dire warnings offered by former President Obama and others the night before.

The 44th president of the United States warned that American democracy itself could falter if Mr Trump is reelected, while Mr Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, the 55-year-old California senator and the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, addressed race problems in a way Mr Biden could not.

Obama said Donald Trump had "no interest" in using the Presidency to help "anyone but himself and his friends" in a blistering review of his time in the Oval Office.

In remarks made to virtual Democratic National Convention, he said: "I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president.

"I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.

"But he never did. He's shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.

"Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead.

"Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before."

Throughout their convention, the Democrats have summoned a collective urgency about the dangers of Mr Trump as president.

In 2016, they dismissed and sometimes trivialised him but in the days leading up to Mr Biden's acceptance speech, they cast him as an existential threat to the country.