Joe Biden promised an end to what he described as a “season of darkness in America” as he formally accepted the Democratic nomination for president.
The former vice president addressed millions of Americans who tuned in to watch the final night of the virtual Democratic National Convention on Thursday.
He began with a quote from civil rights activist Ella Baker, saying: “give people light and they will find the way”.
“Those are words for our time. The current president has cloaked America in darkness for far too long,” said Mr Biden.
He added: “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.”
Mr Biden went on to condemn Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
“Because I understand something this president hasn’t from the beginning – we will never get our economy back on track, we will never get our kids safely back in schools, until we deal with this virus,” he said.
“After all this time, the president still does not have a plan, Well I do.”
He spoke of introducing a national mask mandate and plans to ensure Americans have access to medical supplies and protective equipment to avoid having to be at the “mercy of China or other foreign countries in order to protect our own people”.
Mr Biden, who at 77 would be the oldest president ever elected if he defeats Mr Trump in November, thanked Barack Obama for his support.
He described Mr Obama as “a man I was honoured to serve alongside with for eight years as vice-president”.
“Let me take this time to say something we won’t say nearly enough: thank you,” said Mr Biden. “You were a great president, a president that our children could and did look up to.
“No one is going to say that about the current occupant of the White House.”
Mr Biden said one of the most important conversations he had on the campaign trail was with George Floyd‘s six-year-old daughter, Gianna.
He said: “When I leaned down to speak to her, she looked in my eyes and said – I quote – ‘Daddy changed the world.'”
The former vice president also referenced civil rights activist John Lewis, saying: But however it’s come to be, it’s happened, America is ready, in John’s words, to quote, ‘lay down the heavy burden of hate at last’.”
Prior to Mr Biden’s speech, a number of his supporters spoke out in favour of the 77-year-old presidential candidate.
Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois senator who lost both legs in Iraq and is raising two young children, said Mr Biden has “common decency.”
Cory Booker, the ninth African American senator in US history, said Mr Biden believes in the dignity of all working Americans.
And Pete Buttigieg, a 38-year-old openly gay military veteran from Indiana, noted that Mr Biden came out in favour of same-sex marriage as vice president even before Mr Obama did.
It comes after Mr Trump staged a small rally just outside the former vice president’s birthplace in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Thursday.
The President delivered a scathing review of what he claims was “a half-century of Joe Biden failing America”.
Mr Biden served three decades as a senator from Delaware before being tapped as President Barack Obama’s vice president.
He first ran for president in 1988 and tried again in 2008 before launching his 2020 campaign last year.
President Donald Trump is due to be formally renominated as his party’s candidate during the virtual Republican National Convention next week.