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Democrats wrap up 4-day virtual convention. Here’s what happened on the final night

Joe Biden accepts his party’s nomination, 30 years after his first run for the presidency, saying he will unite nation to “overcome this season of darkness.”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., watch fireworks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., watch fireworks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del.
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — On the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention, former Vice President Joe Biden formally accepted his party’s nomination for president, more than 30 years after his first attempt at the office.

Biden’s acceptance speech, where he told viewers he would be an “ally of light, not our darkness,” came after appearances by former primary contenders of Biden and three women whom Biden had considered to be his running mate.

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played a fictional vice president in the HBO political satire “Veep,” hosted the final evening of the first-ever virtual national political convention, slipping in comedic zingers against President Donald Trump before she introduced speakers.

Here’s a rundown of what else happened:

Highlights:

  • Biden delivered a solemn and impassioned speech that encouraged Americans to overcome the current challenges and criticized Trump, without mentioning the president’s name. He explained his plans for the presidency and spoke of love over hate, positivity over negativity and how America must meet this dark moment to create a brighter future.
  • Civil rights and racial injustice became a major talking point on the fourth night. Historian Jon Meacham talked about John Lewis and protests. John Legend and Common sang “Glory,” after a video that celebrated Lewis.
  • Continuing a consistent message throughout the convention, politicians and celebrities urged viewers to vote — focusing Thursday on vote by mail. Comedian Sarah Cooper made the case, and even Utah got a shoutout as one of several states that have embraced vote by mail for years.
  • The night included a tribute to Beau Biden, the late son of the nominee. During Joe Biden’s introduction, a video played of Beau Biden talking about his father. Others, such as Pete Buttigieg, talked about Beau Biden throughout the night, referencing his military service and his lasting memories.
  • Military families were celebrated throughout the night. A video package about midway through the final night showed Joe Biden’s continued support of veterans and military families. Biden ended his speech with “May God bless you. And may God protect our troops.”
  • Louis-Dreyfus laid out several zingers at Trump. She slammed him for not releasing his tax returns, and said Biden “goes to church so often he doesn’t even need tear gas or federal troops to help him get there.”

Quotes of the night:

  • “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.” — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden
  • “American history tells us it has been in our darkest moments that we’ve made our greatest progress.” — Biden
  • “Love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear, and light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment. This is our mission.” — Biden
  • “Will we be the generation that finally wipes out the stain of racism from our national character? I believe we’re up to it. I believe we’re ready.” — Biden
  • “When Donald Trump says he wants to Make America Great Again, he’s making a case for Joe Biden.” — Mike Bloomberg
  • “America is at its best when we make that circle of belonging wider.” — Pete Buttigieg
  • “Love makes my marriage real, but political courage made it possible.” — Buttigieg
  • “Joe knows that faith has sustained so many ordinary Americans who do extraordinary things.” — Sen. Chris Coons
  • “Whether your ancestors have been here for hundreds of years or you are a new citizen, know this: Whether we vote, and how we vote, will determine if our nation’s promise of social, racial and environmental justice will outlast us.” — Congresswoman Deb Haaland
  • “Voting is sacred, white people know that.” — Haaland

Biden accepts nomination; call for unity, America to meet the moment

Presidential nominee Joe Biden gave an enthusiastic, yet solemn, speech — without interruptions of applause — to a largely empty Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, the final speech of the Democrat’s completely virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention.

It was one of the most passionate speeches of the convention.

He pledged that the first order of business when he occupies the Oval Office is to get control of the coronavirus. Biden said the country needed to develop and deploy rapid testing en mass, make the medical equipment needed to combat COVID-19, ensure schools have resources to be open and to take the muzzle off of experts.

Finally, he said he would issue a national mask mandate, which would be “a patriotic duty to protect one another.”

  • “After all this time, the president still does not have a plan. Well, I do. ... On day one, we’ll implement the national strategy I’ve been laying out since March.”
  • “We will never have our lives back until we deal with this virus.”

Without ever saying Trump’s name, Biden spoke of the dangers of another four years of the current administration.

  • “The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.”
  • “I will be a president who stands with our allies and friends and makes it clear to our adversaries the days of cozying up to dictators is over.”
  • “I’ll protect America. I’ll defend us from every attack seen and unseen — always, without exception, every time.”

And Biden offered a positive outlook on the nation’s ability to meet the current moment, facing crises like the pandemic, racial injustice and climate change.

  • “This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment. It’s a moment that calls for hope and light and love.”
  • “American history tells us it has been in our darkest moments that we’ve made our greatest progress.”
  • “Will we be the generation that finally wipes out the stain of racism from our national character? I believe we’re up to it. I believe we’re ready.”

He ended his speech with a message of love, compassion and empathy — hoping the country will unite to meet the challenges it faces.

  • “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.”
  • “No generation knows what history will ask of it. All we can ever know is whether we’re ready when that moment arrives.”
  • “America is at an inflection point. A time of real peril but also of extraordinary possibilities.”
  • “This is a life-changing election. Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They’re all on the ballot.”
  • “The best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose.”
  • “This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme with passion and purpose.”
  • “Love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear, and light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment. This is our mission.”
  • “Your loved one might have left this earth, but they will never leave your heart.”

Mayor Pete praises Biden for standing up for marriage equality

Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and an Army veteran, spoke from the location of his wedding about service and equality.

“When you put your life on the line for this country, you do it not because it’s the country you live in, but because it’s a country you believe in. I believe in this county. Because America, uniquely, holds the promise of a place where everyone can belong.”

  • “America is at its best when we make that circle of belonging wider.”
  • “Love makes my marriage real, but political courage made it possible.”

Buttigieg, who served in the Army as a gay man during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era, praised Biden for stepping out ahead of the party to fight for marriage equality.

”I trust Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to guide us to that better future, because I’ve seen up close their empath and their capacity.”


Biden knows the sacrifice of military families, Illinois senator says

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. and former Army combat pilot and Purple Heart recipient, explained how Biden knows the sacrifice of military family members.

She talked about how she “earned her wings” and learned to serve in the military is a “privilege and a sacrifice.” But she said military families sacrifice, too, because they have to help families get through incidents.

She talked about how her husband was at her side when she was injured and lost her right leg near her hip and her left leg below the knee in November 2004 in the Iraq War.

  • “Our military spouses hold their families together, praying for their loved one’s safety whenever they’re deployed.”

Duckworth said Biden knows the fear families face when they don’t know what’s happening to their military family members.

She then blasted Trump, saying that Biden would not let foreign powers influence him or let bounties go unnoticed.

  • “Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right, stand tall for our troops and stand strong against our enemies.”
  • “Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet.”

Making the case for voting by mail; Utah referenced

Comedian and author Sarah Cooper continued the convention’s consistent message of voting by mail during the pandemic.

Cooper — who has gone viral for lip-syncing Trump’s speeches on TikTok and social media — did the same thing during the convention, imitating one of Trump’s speeches.

She then appeared in front of the camera to talk about Trump’s recent comments suggesting mail-in voting is fraught with fraud.

  • “Nothing is more dangerous to our democracy than his attacks on mail-in voting during a pandemic.”
  • “Donald Trump doesn’t want us to vote because he know he can’t beat us fair and square.”

After Cooper’s speech, a video aired with a pitch to vote by mail by state election officials, assuring viewers their ballots are safe when submitted by mail. Utah, a reliably Republican state, was mentioned as one of five states that embrace universal vote by mail.

Utah officials have long said that voting by mail is a safe practice.


A former surgeon general explains why Biden can handle COVID-19 crisis

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States, talked about the ongoing public health crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

Murthy said the United States should look for a leader who can help develop a positive plan to stopping the spread of the virus.

Murthy says we need a leader who wears a mask not as a political statement, but as a civic duty to the country.

  • “We need a leader who works with states.”
  • “Tonight as a father, son and grandson ... I can tell you Joe Biden is the man I trust to look after my family and the leader I know who will heal this nation.”

Andrew Yang pushes for a better future for our families, next generation

Andrew Yang, entrepreneur and 2020 Democratic primary contender, opened the night with a brief speech where he talked about community and the need for families to help America recover and create a better future for the next generation.

Yang says 72% of Americans feel this is the worst time they have experienced.

  • “We are in a deep, dark hole and we need leaders who will help us dig out. “
  • Yang said the community should be “families up” and “people’s up.”
  • “We must give this country — our country — a chance to recover.”
  • Yang says Harris and Biden “can lead us forward to a future we’ll be proud to leave to our children.”

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons speaks on Biden’s faith

Fellow Delaware resident and Democrat Sen. Chris Coons placed Biden among other people of faith who “have long led change,” such as abolitionists, women’s suffragists and civil rights advocates.

“Joe Biden will continue that progressive march for justice. Inspired by respect and dignity for all people,” Coons said. “People Joe believe we’re made in the image of God.”

  • “He will be a president for Americans of all faiths, as well as people of conscience who practice no particular faith.”
  • “Joe’s faith is really about our future, about a world with less suffering and more justice.”
  • “Joe knows that faith has sustained so many ordinary Americans who do extraordinary things.”
  • “We need a leader who brings together people of all faith to rebuild our country and restore our community and restore our community. Someone who knows we are called to do justice, love and mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Joe Biden will be that president.”

Biden — a practicing Catholic —doesn’t shy away from speaking about his faith, although, “his plans related to LGBTQ rights and other culture war issues generally recommend narrow religious accommodations, rather than broad exemptions,” wrote Deseret News’ Kelsey Dallas.


Musicians John Legend and Common perform ‘Glory’

Musicians John Legend and Common performed their song “Glory” about 30 minutes into the night. The song debuted in 2014 for the film “Selma,” which tells the story of the marches from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama.

The performance occurred within an empty theater of sorts. Legend sang from a piano. Common rapped his lyrics from the side of the stage.

Legend and Common’s show came after a video that showed the life and times of John Lewis aired at the convention.


New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland encourages people to vote

Rep. Deb Haaland was one of the first two Native American women — along with Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kan. — elected to Congress in 2018. The congresswoman said that 500 years ago Indigenous communities were living in democracies, and she encouraged Americans to participate in the democratic process.

  • “The promise of this country is older than our Constitution.”
  • “Voting is sacred, white people know that.”
  • “I’m a symbol of our resilience as the embodiment of America’s progress as a nation.”
  • “I know we can’t take our democracy for granted.”
  • “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris respect our past and understand our present. ... They will help us to build a better future.”
  • “Whether your ancestors have been here for hundreds of years or you are a new citizen, know this: Whether we vote, and how we vote, will determine if our nation’s promise of social, racial, and environmental justice will outlast us.”

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin makes pitch for universal health care

Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin articulated the party’s position on national health care, telling a story about her grandparents having to pay out of pocket for her care because she couldn’t be on their insurance plan as a granddaughter.

  • “What kind of country do we want to be?” Baldwin asked. One where medical bills “bury people in debt, or one where health care is affordable for all?”
  • “That’s why Joe Baldwin and Kamala Harris are the only answer in this election. Trust me, they are.”
  • “This November let’s move forward and never look back.”

Michael Bloomberg goes right after Trump

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t mince his words about President Donald Trump when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

Bloomberg — a businessman and 2020 Democratic primary contender — criticized the president’s record in office and as a businessman.

Bloomberg said he was asking people to vote for Biden over Trump because Trump has done a bad job in office, not because he has been a bad guy.

  • “Why the hell would we ever rehire Donald Trump for another four years?”
  • “When Donald Trump says he wants to Make America Great Again, he’s making a case for Joe Biden.”
  • “So let’s put an end to this whole sorry chapter to American history.”