My fellow Americans,
I come before you in this time of one of the greatest crises in our nation’s history to offer a message of gratitude, a message of hope, and a message of resolve.
The gratitude goes out to all of you who continue to support my candidacy with your time and your effort and your money;
– gratitude for my wife Jill who’s been at my side, bearing me up and urging me forward for these past 43 years of our marriage;
– gratitude for Kamala Harris for joining me in this great campaign;
– gratitude for the God who’s guided my life and that of my family and my Church;
– gratitude for the genius of our nation’s Founding Fathers;
– and gratitude to all of you, the American people, that I’ve had the opportunity to serve these past 50 years of public life.
So it is with a heart full of gratitude that I hereby humbly accept the nomination of my party for the Presidency of the United States.
I want to tell you, in honest and straightforward terms, why I am running for President, and what it will mean if you entrust me with the great honor of serving as your President. You’re entitled as voters to know these things, and more importantly, you deserve a President who speaks honestly and with conviction, whose word you can trust.
We’re here at the conclusion of a Democratic convention, and I’ve accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party, but I’m speaking now to all Americans. Because I’m running for President, and will serve you as President, not just as a Democrat, or as the servant of a particular base of supporters, but as an American, a citizen among citizens, who wants the best for all of our country.
We are not a nation of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, or Progressives. We are all those things and more, but we are first and foremost Americans, who love our country and are grateful for it, who want to constantly protect it and constantly improve it.
As you can tell from my gray hair, this is not my first rodeo. I’m no newcomer to this process. I haven’t recently come down to you on a golden staircase from a penthouse on Fifth Avenue. I’ve worked my way up, from the small town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to work for the American people for the last 50 years.
I’m not a beginner. I know the process. I know how governance works. I know how to build a consensus, how to unify rather than divide. I know how to get things done, not for a privileged few or for my political allies, but for all of the American people.
It’s harder than playing one faction off against another. It’s harder than sowing division, harder than name-calling. It’s much, much harder than making it up as you go along.
It requires more than slogans, more than self-interest. It requires, first of all, a recognition that, after all the years of the American experiment and all partisanship we’ve allowed to build up, we are still one country with a shared dream and a common purpose.
What is that dream? What is that purpose? It’s a dream that begins with family, with the father and mother who each work two jobs to put their daughter through college, with the young couple that saves for years to afford a house with a yard that their new baby can learn to crawl on, with the parents who work overtime to care not only for their teenage children but for their aging parents, with the young man barely old enough to vote who sends money home to his parents in a less privileged country than our own. It’s in the blessings and the responsibilities of family that our American dream begins.
It expands to our local communities, where we serve on school boards and town councils and chambers of commerce, and help run food banks and little leagues and Fourth of July celebrations, because we understand in our hearts that we members of our community are really all one family.
And finally that devotion to family expands to encompass our nation, when we serve in the military and the Peace Corps, when we travel to witness the grandeur of our national parks, when we share our sports rivalries and take pride in our feats of space exploration, when we exercise our most precious rights as citizens and speak our minds, and vote. Because we understand in our hearts that our great nation, composed of families and individuals of different races, religions, ethnicities, sexual preferences and, yes, political parties, is really all one family.
And that is why we need a President of all the people who will champion our common purpose as a national family.
And what is that purpose? To build an ever more just and prosperous society. Nice words, right? But what does that really mean in these dire times?
Here’s the deal: the growing economy that the current administration inherited needs to be rebuilt out the pandemic that they allowed to engulf us. That takes leadership and vision, not trade wars, tweets and tantrums.
As your President, I’ll stop treating trade and treaty partners as though they were the other side in a real estate deal, and start treating them as collaborators in our joint security, and in a growing international economy. I’d rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Climate Accord, the World Health Organization, and the Iran nuclear deal.
I’ll support public-private partnerships to repair our decaying American infrastructure, harden our electrical grid against cyber and EMP attack, and prepare major cities for rising sea levels. All of this will generate new jobs.
I’ll direct the Department of Education to develop a national vocational retraining program for employees of withering industries certain to become obsolete in the 21st century. I’d link these proposals to new programs that would allow college graduates to pay off student loan debt.
The pandemic has revealed the gross deficiencies and inequities of our healthcare system, and I’d work with Congress to improve and expand the coverage of the Affordable Care Act.
And I say to you, my fellow Americans, that never again will a pandemic that health experts saw coming for literally decades find us unprepared to meet and defeat it, as this administration was. Never, never, never again. My administration will work to build back better medical equipment reserves, rejoin the World Health Organization, and liberate the CDC to do the great work so necessary to the health of the American people, and to our preparedness for the next Covid.
Have you noticed, my fellow Americans, and in particular my Republican friends, that the national deficit has reached such gigantic proportions that no one dares talk about it? Well I’m talking about it. This started ‘way before Covid. We need to correct the absurdity of providing tax breaks to the rich while the national debt explodes. And yes, we need to put mechanisms in place to strengthen Social Security against the risk of insolvency that it faces in the next decade. The free market is a wonderful thing, but it won’t solve all our economic problems, and it creates some that only thoughtful leadership can address.
The Covid pandemic has reminded us of something else. It’s reminded us that there are times of national crisis when an organized, competent, national response is not only called for, but critical. These are situations, like the great world wars and the Great Depression and the Great Recession, that only a competent federal government can adequately address. The Biden-Harris administration will make the federal government competent again. It’s time to stop hollowing out the EPA and the Education Department and even the Post Office, time to stop undermining our State Department, time to stop using the Justice Department as a tool of personal interests, time to stop scorning the advice and counsel of our top military leaders and intelligence organizations.
In the end, my fellow Americans, it’s all about leadership. That’s what we’ve been missing these past four years. That’s what’s been missing as Covid-19 ravaged our people and our strong economy, put millions on the unemployment lines, and closed our schools and factories. That’s what’s been missing as racial injustice inflamed our cities. That’s what’s been missing as thousands take their own lives every year with guns, and as mass killings with military-style assault weapons happen over and over and over.
Leadership is what’s missing when our head of state coddles foreign dictators while insulting our allies and trashing our trade partners.
And leadership is what’s missing when our President declares the press the enemy of the people, and mocks the physically challenged, and declares strong American women like Kamala Harris to be “nasty,” implies even that she isn’t an American citizen, and speaks ill of dead American heroes like John McCain, and clears a street of peaceful protesters so he can pose in front of someone else’s church holding someone else’s Bible. There are hundreds of other examples, as you all know, and I won’t embarrass us all again by repeating more of them.
Leadership is what the Biden-Harris administration will restore to our great country. Leadership doesn’t occur naturally. You can’t learn it overnight, as the present administration has proved. It starts with character and decency, and a desire to serve others rather than oneself. It means setting aside partisanship and extending a hand to those who don’t agree with you, rather than a finger or a fist. It means understanding the process of government, understanding our great Constitution and how it balances power and responsibility in our democracy, understanding how good things have always gotten done for the American people.
I’ve been at this a long time. Some would say that’s a liability, but you need only look back on the chaos and division of the last four years to realize that it’s an asset. I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to serve my fellow Americans to the best of my ability, and I ask for your vote this November so that we can all carry on, together, in the great work of this great nation.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.