The former vice president said the United States had faced an unprecedented “perfect storm” of four simultaneous crises: the worst pandemic in 100 years, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the most pressing call. convincing to racial justice since the era of civil rights and the climate crisis.
“Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He failed to protect us, he failed to protect America, ”Biden said.
“This is not a partisan moment. It must be an American moment, ”he said, looking straight at the camera and telling voters he was running to reclaim the character of the country in a time of darkness. “This campaign isn’t just about winning votes, it’s about winning the heart and, yes, the soul of America. ”
Although politicians often say that every election is the most important, this year is different, he said, “We know in our bones, this one is bigger. “
“And after all this time, the president still doesn’t have a plan,” Biden continued. “Well, I do. ”
The speech marked the culmination of a decorated career in politics that saw the Scranton, Pennsylvania native rise to the highest levels of government despite a life of family tragedy. Biden had run for the presidency twice, never going far in those races and the third try seemed destined to end the same until a decisive victory in South Carolina in late February.
The former vice president then swept the Super Tuesday states and landed the nomination, culminating in a virtual four-day celebration that aimed to promote him as an empathetic leader who would be guided by science as the nation grabs hold of it. by the greatest crisis she has ever known. faced for generations.
In a touching moment, Biden’s three children featured their father’s opening speech in a video. Beau, the son of the former vice president, who died of brain cancer five years ago at the age of 46, has been described in video clips of previous speeches about his father. Biden pushed hard for such an introduction, which also featured his son Hunter and daughter Ashley.
The former vice president decided after much soul-searching not to continue a presidential campaign in 2016, saying the window for a race had closed as he mourned Beau.
“Take it away, Beau,” Ashley Biden said, as the video was cut to Beau Biden speaking about his father at a previous convention.
The final night of the convention featured average Americans whose lives were touched by former Vice President, Military Families to Brayden Harrington, 13, who approached Biden in New Hampshire asking for help help overcome his stuttering, as Biden did in his own youth by reciting poetry in the mirror and later marking his speeches as a reminder not to rush into his remarks.
“I’m just an ordinary kid, and in no time Joe Biden made me more confident about something that has bothered me my whole life,” Harrington said. “Joe Biden cared. Imagine what he could do for all of us. Kids like me rely on you to elect someone we can all look up to. Someone who cares. Someone who will make our country and the world feel better. We are counting on you to elect Joe Bide. ”
The evening opened with a series of videos testifying to Biden’s humanity. One woman, Amanda Litman – executive director of Run For Something, a progressive organization – recounted how the former vice president consoled her family when a loved one had severe colon cancer.
She then used the experience to suggest how Biden could bring such empathy to a country plagued by a pandemic that has already killed more than 170,000 people.
“Our whole country is in mourning. We all go through trauma. Our next president must be the one who helps us heal, ”she said.
Tributes to Biden from current and former members of the military included speeches by former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who ran against the former Delaware senator for the 2020 presidential nomination, and from Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient that Biden envisioned during his vice presidential selection process.
Duckworth spoke about the qualities needed in a Commander-in-Chief and the attention he must pay to the needs of military spouses, noting how her own husband rushed to the hospital to take care of her after she was injured when a rocket-propelled grenade tore. the helicopter she flew over Iraq in 2004.
“Military service doesn’t just take courage and sacrifice from those who wear the uniform – it’s required of their families, too,” Duckworth said. “Joe Biden understands these sacrifices because he made them himself. When her son Beau enlisted in the military and deployed to Iraq, this burden was also borne by his family. ”
She said the US military deserves a leader who “will truly honor their sacrifices” and that they don’t have that in their current Commander-in-Chief, because Trump “is either unwilling or unable to do it.”
When Buttigieg, who was a lieutenant in the US Navy Reserve, endorsed Biden earlier this year, the former vice president took the microphone to summon his late son, an Iraq War veteran whom Biden calls his ” soul”.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but it reminds me of my son, Beau,” Biden said, with Buttigieg looking. “I know that might not mean much to most people, but to me it’s the biggest compliment I can give a man or a woman.
On Thursday night, Buttigieg also opened up about his military service and his experience as a gay man in America as he watched how the country has changed LGBTQ rights.
“Joe Biden is right: this is a contest for the soul of the nation. And for me, this contest is not between good Americans and bad Americans. It is the struggle to speak out about what is good in every American, ”Buttigieg said.
“It’s up to us to decide. Will America be a place where faith is about healing, not exclusion? Can we become a country that lives up to the truth that black lives matter? Will we deal with questions of science and medicine by turning to scientists and doctors “Will we ensure that no one who works full time can live in poverty?” he said.
“I trust Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to guide us into that brighter future, because I have seen their empathy and ability up close – just as I have seen America’s ability to move towards inclusion. ”
This story was updated with additional developments on Thursday.
CNN’s Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.