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Biden casts election as battle for nation’s soul as GOP prepares for convention

On Thursday, Joe Biden formally accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. He slammed President Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the U.S. economy is “in tatters” and characterizing the election as a battle for America's soul. Meanwhile, President Trump and the Republicans fired back criticism as they prepared for their own convention. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Light vs. darkness — that is how Joe Biden framed the decision that voters will have to make this fall during his very first speech as the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

    Meanwhile, President Trump and the Republicans ready for their turn next week.

    Amna Nawaz has our coverage.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    Good evening.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    For Joe Biden, these words had been decades in the making.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    So, it is with great honor and humility I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee made his appeal to Americans in stark terms.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.

    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 will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Biden lambasted President Trump's pandemic response.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    We lead the world in confirmed cases. We lead the world in deaths. Our economy is in tatters, and, after all this time, the president still does not have a plan. Well, I do.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And he cited the president's own words after the 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the moment he knew he had to run.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    And remember what the president said when asked. He said they were — quote — "very fine people on both sides."

    At the time, I said we're in the battle for the soul of this nation, and we are.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That sober warning on the DNC's final night echoed similar sentiments earlier in the week. Former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton:

  • Hillary Clinton:

    For four years, people have told me: I didn't realize how dangerous he was.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Former first lady Michelle Obama:

  • Michelle Obama:

    Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And former President Barack Obama, all stressing the high stakes of this election.

  • Former President Barack Obama:

    Do not let them take away your power. Do not let them take away your democracy.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Over the week, history was made, most notably by Senator Kamala Harris, the first woman of color ever nominated to a major-party ticket.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.:

    Let's fight with conviction. Let's fight with hope. Let's fight with confidence in ourselves and a commitment to each other, to the America we know is possible.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And the first entirely virtual roll call vote, giving viewers a tour and, in some cases, a taste, across 57 states and territories.

  • Man:

    Our friend Joe Biden.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    A diverse slate of everyday Americans were heard from every night, like Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of COVID-19.

  • Kristin Urquiza:

    His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Gurnee Green, whose small business is struggling mid-pandemic.

  • Gurnee Green:

    I'm alone.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And 13-year-old Brayden Harrington, who credited Biden with helping him control his stutter.

  • Brayden Harrington:

    And without Joe Biden, I wouldn't be talking to you today.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Issues like immigration and climate change took center stage, but, on gun violence, Gabby Giffords radiated resilience.

  • Gabby Giffords:

    We can let the shooting continue, or we can act.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Among the many making the case for Biden over four nights, his primary rivals, banding together in party unity.

  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.:

    You can think of this sort of like "Survivor" on the out interviews of all the people that got voted off the island.


  • Amna Nawaz:

    Republicans bucking their own party to now back Biden.

  • Colin Powell:

    Joe Biden will be a president we will all be proud to salute.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And his family, beginning with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, on surviving devastating loss.

  • Jill Biden:

    If we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours: Bring us together and make us whole.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And ending with his own children, daughter Ashley, son Hunter, and words from his late son, Beau.

    The DNC ended last night with a fireworks show, but, today, a sign of more fireworks ahead. At an event outside Washington, D.C., President Trump began his rebuttal to Biden's argument.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Where Joe Biden sees American darkness, I see American greatness.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Next week's Republican National Convention will include party business in Charlotte and other events in Washington, D.C., and Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

    Confirmed speakers include President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and Vice President Pence, as well as senior party figures, like former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Senators Joni Ernst and Tim Scott, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.

    Republicans are expected to formally renominate President Trump on Monday, and make their pitch to the American people in the days to follow.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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