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Highlights and analysis from Day 4 of the Democratic National Convention

Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Duckworth, Andrew Yang and Michael Bloomberg also spoke on Thursday.
Image: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on a blue background with white stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention brought presidential nominee Joe Biden's acceptance speech, a host of remarks from more party officials and musical performances by John Legend, Common and The Chicks.

In broad remarks, Biden presented his vision for uniting America to move the country forward from "constant chaos and crisis."

Other speakers Thursday included former presidential primary rivals Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, businessman Andrew Yang and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and several erstwhile vice presidential contenders, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

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Biden avoids mentioning Trump by name

Joe Biden went to great lengths to avoid mentioning President Trump's name during his lengthy acceptance speech.

Instead, Biden used various euphemisms to deliver pointed attacks aimed at Trump’s leadership and character.

Biden referred to Trump as "this president" and the "current occupant of the White House," while also comparing him to "darkness."

"He will wake up every day thinking the job is all about him, never about you," Biden said.

Biden discussed George Floyd and ‘rooting out systemic racism’

Toward the end of his speech, Biden detailed a private conversation he had with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter, the day before her father was laid to rest. 

Biden recalled the child saying, “Daddy changed the world.” 

“Her words burrowed deep into my heart,” he said.

 Biden then called for a societal shift in the wake of Floyd's killing. 

“George Floyd’s death was the breaking point” for the country to wake up to racism in America, Biden said. He quoted the late John Lewis in doing the work to address injustice. 

“America is ready in John’s words to ‘lay down the heavy burden of hate’ and do the hard work of rooting out systemic racism,” he said. 

'Welcome to Wilmington'

An enthusiastic Joe Biden ended his evening with his running mate and their spouses and a spectacular fireworks display. After the grande finale, Biden lowered his mask, pointed to nearby reporters and said: "Welcome to Wilmington!"

After a reporter asked how he felt, he pumped his fist before walking off stage.

Biden speech gets rave reviews, even from conservatives

Biden says #ThanksObama

Biden honored Obama in his acceptance speech, while taking a dig at Trump.

"Let me say something we don’t say enough, 'Thank you, Mr. President.' You were a great president. A president that our children could and did look up to," Biden said. "No one is going to say that about the current occupant of the White House."

Biden shifts tone toward Trump

Much of the early portion of Biden’s speech was focused on unity and bringing the country together. But as Biden transitioned into speaking to some of the finer points of his candidacy, he shifted in tone toward Donald Trump.

In one particularly fiery line, Biden said, "The days of cozying up to dictators is over."

Both segments of the speech served as a near-total contrast with Trump in how he discussed the pandemic, national security, racial injustice and the country at large.

'No miracle is coming': Biden goes after Trump’s response to COVID

Joe Biden strongly rebuked President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that his lack of leadership made the crisis work.

"The president keeps telling us the virus is going to disappear. He keeps waiting for a miracle," Biden said.  "Well, I have news for him. No miracle is coming. We lead the world in confirmed cases. We lead the world in deaths."

"He has failed to protect us," Biden added. "And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable."

Drawing on his own experience losing family members, Biden spoke directly to those who have lost loved ones to the virus. 

"I know how mean, cruel, and unfair life can be sometimes,” Biden said. "Your loved one may have left this earth but they'll never leave your heart. They'll always be with you."

Who was Ella Baker? Why did Biden begin with her?

Biden began and ended his speech while accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president with evocative references to past and present struggles for civil rights. 

When Biden took his place at center stage on the fourth night of the DNC, he started with a riff on light and dark, about a nation’s path. He quoted Ella Baker, a lecturer, strategist, and organizer in the mid-20th century civil rights movement who helped to coordinate sustained resistance activities which transformed the country.

“Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light and they will find a way,” Biden said. “Give people light. Those are words for our time.”

In many ways, Ella Baker was the consummate civil rights worker, responsible for the logistics and strategy behind sustained lunch counter protests and Freedom Summer.

Born in Virginia in 1903 as the granddaughter of slaves, Baker graduated first in her college class from the North Carolina HBCU, Shaw University. Beginning in the 1940s, she served as the equivalent of a field organizer, secretary, and leader for multiple civil rights organizations around the country.

That list includes the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. But, Baker did the work and, she believed in bringing ordinary people into the fight for their own rights, fights they shaped and implemented.

Baker was so committed to equality she sometimes clashed with the movement’s best known male figures. She argued that embracing a patriarchal, messianic leadership model was a mistake.

So, as some DNC viewers watched Biden begin his speech with a Baker quote, the reaction was swift.

 

Biden makes big unity pitch in nomination speech

Building on the overall theme of this convention, Joe Biden went hard with unity points in his speech closing out the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

“While I am a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president,” he said.

Sounding a bit like Barack Obama’s 2004 convention speech, Biden said: “America isn't just a collection of clashing interests and red states and blue states. We're so much bigger than that."

Joe Biden accepts Democratic nomination for president, capping decades-long quest

Joe Biden on Thursday accepted the Democratic nomination for president on the final night of the party’s four-day virtual convention as his campaign prepared to enter the homestretch of its battle to oust President Trump.

"It is with great honor and humility that I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America,” said the 77-year-old former vice president, reveling in a special moment for a candidate who ran twice previously for the White House, in 1988 and 2008. Biden delivered his address from Wilmington, Delaware, in a venue that was largely empty because of coronavirus concerns.