Home International News If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the...

If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst.


Newly minted Democratic White House nominee Joe Biden said US President Donald Trump has “cloaked America in darkness for much too long”.

The former US vice-president said his rival has unleashed “too much anger, too much fear, too much division”.

His impassioned speech was the capstone of a political career spanning nearly half a century.

Mr Biden, 77, heads into the general election campaign with a clear lead in opinion polls over Mr Trump, 74.

But with 75 days to go until the election the Republican president has plenty of time to narrow the gap.

Joe Biden has made his first major speech as the Democratic presidential nominee at the party’s convention.

He said President Trump had “cloaked America in darkness” and made several claims about his record in office, including his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

We’ve taken a look at three of these claims.

Section divider



Section divider

Claim 1: “We lead the world in confirmed cases. We lead the world in deaths.”

Mr Biden criticised President Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak saying he had failed to protect American people.

The US does have the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, with more than 5.5 million confirmed cases and 174,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

It also has a larger population than many other countries.

If you look at deaths per capita – as a proportion of each country’s population – the US is no longer top of the list but remains in the top ten worst hit countries.

The US has recorded more than 52 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people – according to Johns Hopkins University – but there are a handful of countries that have recorded more on this measurement, including the UK and Italy.

It is worth remembering that there are differences in how countries count coronavirus deaths, making exact comparisons difficult.

Claim 2: “More than 50 million people have filed for unemployment this year.”

Mr Biden was talking about the impact of the pandemic on the US economy.

The 50m figure is right and is based on the total number of Americans who have filed jobless claims since the virus struck, according to US Labor Department statistics.

The number of people currently claiming unemployment benefits is 14.8m, according to the latest release of weekly figures. It has been declining since May, when there were more than 20m claims.

The unemployment rate is still much higher than pre-pandemic levels and currently stands at 10.2%.

Mr Biden also said: “Nearly one in six small businesses have closed this year.”

But a recent survey of small business owners in the US suggested that only 1% of small businesses had closed permanently by mid July this year.

A further 12% said they had closed temporarily, but even accounting for these it is less than then one in six Mr Biden claimed.

White nationalist militia descended on Charlottesville armed with rifles and handguns

Claim 3: President Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides”, when asked about a far-right rally in 2017.

Mr Biden said one of his goals would be to “wipe out the stain of racism” and he recalled the far-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 which led to violent clashes and left one counter-protester dead.

He said: “Remember what the President said when asked, he said there were, quote, very fine people on both sides”.

Mr Biden said that after this moment “I knew I had to run” for president.

According to a transcript of a press conference on 15 August, President Trump did say – when asked about the presence of neo-Nazis at the rally – “you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

During the same press conference, Mr Trump went on to say “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”

Section divider

* Joe Biden: The most essential challenge for Biden on Thursday night was to show competence, strength and readiness, having withstood months of attacks from President Donald Trump and his allies suggesting that the former vice president wasn’t all there mentally. (At 78, Biden would be the oldest person ever elected to a first term as president — taking that record from Trump.) While the start of the speech was somewhat rocky, Biden not only settled into the speech but did something I did not think he could do: He was charismatic, forceful, emotional and powerful. Anyone who watched that speech would have no doubt as to whether Biden is ready, willing and able to do the job for which he is running. But Biden did more than clear the competence hurdle. He delivered a speech aimed directly at the middle of the country, ideologically speaking. “This is not a partisan moment,” Biden said in the early moments of the speech. “This is an American moment.” He repeatedly appealed to the common decency, humanity and compassion of all Americans. He reminded people that we can and should be better than what divides us, that America could do anything it set its mind to. I will admit I didn’t think Biden had it in him to deliver a speech that good. I was wrong.

What did Biden say?

Speaking from a mostly empty arena in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Mr Biden 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 the darkness.

“It’s time for us, for we the people, to come together. And make no mistake, united we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America.

“We’ll choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.”

Mr Biden said “character is on the ballot” this November.

“We can choose a path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, more divided, a path of shadow and suspicion,” he said.

“Or, or, we can choose a different path and together take this chance to heal, to reform, to unite. A path of hope and light.

“This is a life-changing election. This will determine what America is going to look like for a long, long time.”

Mr Biden vowed to heal a country crippled by a deadly pandemic and economic catastrophe and riven by a reckoning on race.

He continued: “What we know about this president is that if he’s given four more years, he’ll be what he’s been for the last four years.

“A president who takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cosies up to dictators and fan the flames of hate and division.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, U.S. Senator and Democratic candidate for Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff celebrate after Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination

“He’ll wake up every day believing the job is all about him, never about you.

“Is that the America you want for you, your family and your children?”


Referring to America’s coronavirus death toll, Mr Biden said: “Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation: he has failed to protect us.”

Paraphrasing the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, he concluded: “This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme.”


Biden delivers


Call it Joe Biden’s “return to normalcy” speech.

That was Warren G Harding’s campaign slogan when he ran for president in 1920, with a campaign centred around healing and calming Americans after the trauma of World War One.

In his winning presidential bid, he preached healing, serenity and restoration. To put it in modern terms, an end to all the drama.

Mr Biden bills his campaign as a “battle for the soul of this nation”, but his message on Thursday night – the message of many of the Democratic speakers this week – was not so different from Harding’s.

There was a lot of pressure on Mr Biden to deliver with this speech, particularly when Republicans have suggested the 77-year-old was in decline or “diminished”.

At least for one night, the former vice-president, who has given rousing stemwinders in the past, hit all his marks. He was angry when he had to be, and reassuring when needed to be.

Mr Biden gave a powerful speech, delivered powerfully. If he loses in November, it won’t be because of anything that happened on Thursday night or at the convention this entire week – which is exactly what a party currently leading in the polls wants.



What else happened at the convention?

Mr Biden’s live speech marked the grand finale of the four-night Democratic party conference.

But there was no balloon drop, cheering throngs, or any of the other fanfare and razzamatazz of the typical American party conference, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers opted instead for a virtual set piece of mostly pre-recorded speeches crunched into two hours of highly produced programming each evening.

Thursday night’s climax was hosted by actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the star of US political satire Veep and a vocal critic of Mr Trump.

Throughout the evening, Democrats who had challenged Mr Biden for the nomination praised his leadership in a taped messages.

Some of those former rivals – US Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker; former congressman Beto O’Rourke, former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg and entrepreneur Andrew Yang – could be in line for jobs in a Biden administration.

Speakers at the convention over the past three nights have depicted Mr Trump as incompetent, selfish and a danger to democracy, imploring Americans to vote him out of office – a tone that Mr Biden echoed.


On Wednesday his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, became the first black woman to accept a major party’s vice-presidential nomination.

The daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants assailed Mr Trump’s “failure of leadership” and amplified the cries for racial justice that have convulsed the nation.

“There is no vaccine for racism. We have got to do the work,” the 55-year-old said, adding: “None of us are free until all of us are free.”

How is Trump responding?

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump – who has nicknamed his challenger “slow Joe” and “sleepy Joe” – visited Mr Biden’s birthplace of Scranton in the presidential swing-voting state of Pennsylvania.

“Biden is no friend of Pennsylvania,” Mr Trump said, accusing his opponent of destroying American jobs through global trade deals, the Paris climate accord and clean energy plans.

He said: “If you want a vision of your life under a Biden presidency, think of the smouldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the blood-stained sidewalks of Chicago and imagine the mayhem coming to our town and every single town in America.”

As the Democratic nominee was still speaking on Thursday, the Trump 2020 campaign issued a statement, dismissing Mr Biden as “a pawn of the radical leftists”.

Spokesman Tim Murtaugh said: “His name is on the campaign logo, but the ideas come from the socialist extremists.”

Next week, Mr Trump is expected to accept his nomination as the Republican candidate from the White House lawn during his party’s convention, which has been drastically scaled down because of the pandemic.

Who is Joe Biden?

Mr Biden became a US senator from Delaware in 1973, working his way up to the chairmanship of the chamber’s judiciary and foreign relations committees.

After two unsuccessful White House campaigns, in 1988 and 2008, he became vice-president to Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, serving as his deputy from 2009-17.

Only in February this year, Mr Biden’s third run to become the Democratic White House nominee seemed on the verge of collapse.

Then black voters in South Carolina’s primary rewarded him with a victory that made his candidacy seem all but inevitable virtually overnight.

Mr Biden has faced questions about his age – he would be the oldest president ever elected. And his lengthy centrist record has come under heavy scrutiny in a party that has been gravitating leftwards.

But he was able to rally the unruly progressive and moderate wings of his party to his banner by persuading Democratic voters that he has the best chance of defeating Mr Trump.