THE JOE SHOW

Bi­den out­lines ‘bat­tle for the soul of the na­tion’ as he ac­cepts Dem nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - DEMO­CRATIC CON­VEN­TION COV­ER­AGE, PLUS LYNN SWEET, MARY MITCHELL, MARK BROWN AND NEIL STEIN­BERG,

WILM­ING­TON, Del. — Joe Bi­den vowed to unite an Amer­ica torn by cri­sis and con­tempt Thurs­day night as he ac­cepted the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, an achieve­ment that had eluded him over three decades be­cause of per­sonal tragedy, po­lit­i­cal stum­bles and ri­vals who proved more dy­namic. Con­trast­ing him­self with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, he de­clared, “I’ll be an ally of the light, not our dark­ness.”

The past hur­dles fell away as Bi­den ad­dressed his fel­low Democrats and mil­lions of Amer­i­cans at home who he hopes will send him to the White House to re­place Trump — though his tri­umphant mo­ment was drained of im­me­di­ate drama by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, which left him speak­ing to a nearly empty arena rather than a joy­ously cheer­ing crowd.

In a race filled with Trump’s in­sults and name-call­ing, Bi­den de­clared, “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. l’ ll be an ally of the light, not our dark­ness.”

“And make no mis­take, united we can and will over­come this sea­son of dark­ness in Amer­ica.”

Fire­works lit the sky out­side as the con­ven­tion ended, giv­ing a cel­e­bra­tory feel at last to the af­fair.

In his ac­cep­tance speech, Bi­den high­lighted both his world view and a series of deeply per­sonal chal­lenges that shaped his life. On is­sues big and small, the 77-yearold Demo­crat pre­sented a sharp con­trast to the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent but main­tained a hope­ful tone through­out.

Trump, who is 74, pub­licly doubts Bi­den’s men­tal ca­pac­ity and calls him “Slow Joe,” but with the na­tion watch­ing, Bi­den was firm and clear.

The pan­demic has shaken the na­tion and fun­da­men­tally al­tered the cam­paign. But Bi­den pointed to the pub­lic health emer­gency and the se­vere eco­nomic fall­out to turn traits pre­vi­ously seen as vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, no­tably a long ca­reer spent in elected of­fice, into an ad­van­tage by pre­sent­ing him­self as a com­pe­tent leader in a mo­ment that Democrats say cries out for one in the White House.

The night’s ad­dress was the speech of a life­time for Bi­den, who would be the old­est pres­i­dent ever elected if he de­feats Trump in Novem­ber. But his con­ven­tion leaned on a younger gen­er­a­tion ear­lier in the night to help en­er­gize his sprawl­ing coali­tion.

Tammy Duck­worth, an Illi­nois sen­a­tor who lost both legs in Iraq and is rais­ing two young chil­dren, said Bi­den has “com­mon de­cency.”

Cory Booker, only the ninth African Amer­i­can sen­a­tor in U.S. his­tory, said Bi­den be­lieves in the dig­nity of all work­ing Amer­i­cans.

And Pete But­tigieg, a 38-year-old openly gay mil­i­tary vet­eran from

In­di­ana, noted that Bi­den came out in fa­vor of same-sex mar­riage as vice pres­i­dent even be­fore Pres­i­dent Barack Obama did.

“Joe Bi­den is right, this is a contest for the soul of the na­tion. And to me that contest is not be­tween good Amer­i­cans and evil Amer­i­cans,” But­tigieg said. “It’s the strug­gle to call out what is good for ev­ery Amer­i­can.”

Above all, Bi­den fo­cused on unit­ing the na­tion as Amer­i­cans grap­ple with the long and fear­ful health cri­sis, the re­lated eco­nomic dev­as­ta­tion, a na­tional awak­en­ing on racial jus­tice — and Trump, who stirs heated emo­tions from all sides.

Bi­den’s pos­i­tive fo­cus 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 Trump is re­elected, while Bi­den’s run­ning mate, Ka­mala Har­ris, the 55-year-old Cal­i­for­nia sen­a­tor and the daugh­ter of Ja­maican and In­dian im­mi­grants, warned that Amer­i­cans’ lives and liveli­hoods were at risk.

Bi­den’s Demo­cratic Party has sought this week to put for­ward a co­he­sive vi­sion of val­ues and pol­icy pri­or­i­ties, high­light­ing ef­forts to com­bat cli­mate change, tighten gun laws and em­brace a hu­mane im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy. They have drawn a sharp con­trast with Trump’s poli­cies and per­son­al­ity, por­tray­ing him as cruel, self­cen­tered and woe­fully un­pre­pared to man­age vir­tu­ally any of the na­tion’s mount­ing crises and pol­icy chal­lenges.

The ad­di­tion of for­mer New York Mayor and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mike Bloomberg to Thurs­day’s con­ven­tion lineup is an­other ex­am­ple of Bi­den try­ing to ap­peal to moder­ate and even Repub­li­can vot­ers. Bloomberg has been a Repub­li­can, in­de­pen­dent and a Demo­crat through­out his ca­reer.

On Thurs­day, Bloomberg asked: “Would you re­hire or work for some­one who ran your busi­ness into the ground, and who al­ways does what’s best for him or her, even when it hurts the com­pany?”

He asked, “If the an­swer is no, why the hell would we ever re­hire Don­ald Trump for an­other four years?”

Vot­ing was a prime fo­cus of the con­ven­tion on Thurs­day as it has been all week. Democrats fear that the pan­demic -- and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion -- may make it dif­fi­cult for vot­ers to cast bal­lots in per­son or by mail.

Co­me­dian Sarah Cooper, a fa­vorite of many Democrats for her videos lip sync­ing Trump’s speeches, put it bluntly: “Don­ald Trump doesn’t want any of us to vote be­cause he knows he can’t win fair and square.”

Bi­den’s call for unity comes as some strate­gists worry that Democrats can­not re­take the White House sim­ply by tear­ing Trump down; Bi­den needs to give his sprawl­ing coali­tion some­thing to vote for. That’s easier said than done in a mod­ern Demo­cratic Party made up of dis­parate fac­tions that span gen­er­a­tion, race and ide­ol­ogy.

The pan­demic forced Bi­den’s team to aban­don the typ­i­cal con­ven­tion pageantry and rely in­stead on a highly pro­duced, all-vir­tual af­fair that has failed to draw the same tele­vi­sion rat­ings as past con­ven­tions. The si­lence was no­tice­able Thurs­day night as Bi­den took the stage to make his­tory in a cav­ernous hall in down­town Wilm­ing­ton. His au­di­ence con­sisted of a few dozen re­porters and pho­tog­ra­phers.

It’s Trump’s turn next. The Repub­li­can pres­i­dent, who aban­doned plans to host his con­ven­tion in North Carolina and in Florida, is ex­pected to break tra­di­tion and ac­cept his nom­i­na­tion from the White House lawn next week.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP VIA GETTY IM­AGES

Joe Bi­den ac­cepts the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent Thurs­day on the fi­nal day of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion.

AN­DREW HARNIK/AP

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den de­liv­ers his ac­cep­tance speech Thurs­day night on the fi­nal day of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, from the Chase Cen­ter in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware.

DEMO­CRATIC NA­TIONAL CON­VEN­TION/AFP

For­mer South Bend Mayor Pete But­tigieg said Thurs­day that “this is a contest for the soul of the na­tion.”

DNCC VIA GETTY IM­AGES

For­mer New York Mayor and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Michael Bloomberg asked, “Why the hell would we ever re­hire Don­ald Trump for an­other four years?”

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