Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday promised to restore global respect and military integrity to America in his convention acceptance speech as he seeks to replace President Donald Trump next year.
“I take very personally the profound responsibility of serving as commander in chief,” said Biden in a speech which touched on national security, domestic uncertainty and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ll be a president who will stand with our allies and friends and make it clear to our adversaries that the days of cozying up to dictators are over. Under President Biden, America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers, nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise: voting.
“And I’ll always stand for our values of human rights and dignity, and work for a common purpose of a more secure peaceful and prosperous world.”
Biden’s speech was the culmination of the week-long Democratic convention, where party officials extolled the former vice president as the even-tempered leader America needs and decried the last three tumultuous years of Trump’s presidency.
On Wednesday, former President Barack Obama framed the upcoming election as a battle between a still-grieving military father (Biden’s son, Beau, deployed to Iraq in 2009 and died of brain cancer in 2015) and a businessman without the diplomatic skills needed to lead the country.
“(Biden and Harris) understand that in this democracy, the commander in chief doesn’t use the men and women of our military — who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation — as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil,” he said.
“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 while those at the top take in more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.”
Before Biden’s acceptance speech on Thursday, party officials touted his administration’s plan for more outreach to military families, to include reviving the Joining Forces campaign from the Obama administration. The program focused on employment, spouse support and transition issues, but was discontinued when Trump took office.
Iraq War veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. — who lost both her legs when an insurgent shot down her helicopter — said in a speech from outside the Capitol building that Biden’s experience watching his son deploy overseas has given him unique empathy and experience to lead the armed forces.
“Joe Biden understands the sacrifices because he’s made them himself,” she said. “Joe knows the fear military families live because he’s felt that dread of never knowing if your deployed loved one is safe.”
But Duckworth derided Trump as the “coward in chief who won’t stand up to Vladimir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings, or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.”
Biden’ also took numerous digs at Trump in his nomination acceptance speech, calling his presidency one of the “darkest moments” in American history.
“If he’s given four more years, (Trump) will be what he’s been for the last four years: a president who takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cozies up to dictators and fans the flames of hate and division,” he said.
“Let history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation. And this is a battle we will win and we’ll do it together.”
The Republican convention begins next Monday, with a national address from Trump scheduled for Aug. 27.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.