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Joe Biden, and his wife Jill Biden, watch fireworks with vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and her husband Doug Emhoff
Joe Biden, and his wife Jill Biden, watch fireworks with vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and her husband Doug Emhoff
Image: Andrew Harnik/PA Images

Joe Biden quotes Heaney and vows an 'end to national darkness' in speech accepting nomination

Biden said that “this is our moment to make hope and history rhyme”, quoting Seamus Heaney.
Aug 21st 2020, 7:14 AM 31,356 75

JOE BIDEN HAS vowed to unite an America torn by crisis and contempt 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.

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.”

Biden also quoted Irish Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney near the close of his speech. He said: “The Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote: ‘History says / Don’t hope on this side of the grave / But then, once in a lifetime / The longed-for tidal wave / Of justice can rise up /And hope and history rhyme.’

“This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme.”

It’s also not the first time this year that Biden has quoted the Irish poet

The pandemic has fundamentally altered the campaign but 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.

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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 Trump in November.

Biden’s positive focus last 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, addressed race problems in a way Biden could not.

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

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

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