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Joe Biden through the years: Highlights from four decades of public statements

Joe Biden served as a senator for 36 years and vice president for eight years before becoming the 46th U.S. president. Here are some highlights from his speeches and public statements over the years.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: I will be a president for all Americans, all Americans.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- As the youngest member of the Senate and the one therefore who may expect the longest career there, I wonder if you'd say to us, since it's clear that you're not corrupt and you got elected, why should people think that the system produces corrupt results when there you are?

JOE BIDEN: Well, I'm not sure you should assume I'm not corrupt, but I'm-- thank you for that, though. The system does produce corruption, and-- and I think implicit in the system is corruption. When in fact, whether or not you can run for public office-- and it costs a great deal of money to run for the United States Senate, even for a small state like Delaware-- you have to go to those people who have money, and they always want something.

- Well, I wonder whether you would feel that there's some virtue in forcing candidates to go out and try to raise money. I've heard people-- probably people who didn't run for office-- say that it's uplifting to go out and try to get money. Do you think that there's something unuplifting about putting a limit to how much you can ask one man to give you?

JOE BIDEN: I think it's the most degrading experience in the world to have to go out and ask for money because you know that unless you accidentally agree with the position taken by the person or group that has the money, that you run the risk of deciding whether or not you're going to prostitute yourself to give the answer you know they want to hear in order to get funded to run for that office.

And it's coincidental in many instances when, in fact, you happen to agree with where they are. And you run the risk, by the way, of rationalizing, of saying, well, if I compromise on this one, give him one, I get 90% of what I want, and I don't have to give in too much.

- You feel it's-- it's a difficult temptation not only for the candidate, not only for the people who give the money, but for the people trying to raise it?

JOE BIDEN: Well, you know, we're-- we were told that we politicians, as the young kids say, rip off the American public. I think the American public in a way rips off we politicians by forcing us to run the way they do. To raise 300-- $300,000 is no mean feat. And unless you happen to be some sort of anomaly like myself, being a 29-year-old candidate and can attract some attention beyond your own state, it's very difficult to raise that money from a large group of people.

It seems to me that when we got involved in the Civil Rights movement, Frank, nobody asked Martin Luther King what his legislative agenda was. He marched to change attitudes. When the women's movement started, it did not move with a constitutional amendment. They marched to change attitudes.

And this party better understand full well that it's about time we change our attitude and we begin to change the attitudes of Americans about what their responsibilities are to the poor, about what their responsibilities are to other people, and about what our responsibility in the world is, and that requires changing attitudes. This country needs a leader, and leaders change attitudes about people.

And it's the ironic twist that in the wake of Ronald Reagan, that the only one thing he knew how to do was the one thing that has now been the currency of which is, in fact, being devalued so much.

As a result, it is my view that if a Supreme Court justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not-- and not name a nominee until after the November election is completed.

Mr. President, we have to put an end to this madness. We have temporized for far too long. The so-called UN protection force has abdicated its responsibility to the people it had pledged to defend, and the contact group's diplomacy is at a dead end.

Where this is in fact the beginning of another five decades of peace well to the next century because of the extension of this security arrangement throughout Europe. I yield the floor.

I certainly did not for one instant think we'd be here today wondering about short and long-term goals in the war against terrorism-- whether we will succeed, how long it will take, what constitutes victory. But those are in fact the questions facing the United States, and I confess I have no easy answers to any of them.

First, our immediate goal is to cut off the head of al-Qaeda, break up the network, leave them no safe haven. That means, to state the obvious, the removal of bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and the Taliban leadership. I don't know how long it will be before the regime is toppled. I wouldn't want to guess. But it seems to me the handwriting is on the wall, as they say. They've lost the support of their key sponsors, and they're essentially isolated.

But some of those sponsors may need reminding that they've got to make a clear break with the past now and in the future. And we should not hesitate to spell that out to those sponsors. After al-Qaeda and the Taliban fall, to use the phrase of the day, when we drain the swamp, as the president says, the medium-term goal is to roll up all al-Qaeda cells around the world.

Then with the help of other nations and possibly the ultimate sanction of the United Nations, our hope is that we'll see a relatively stable government in Afghanistan, one that does not harbor terrorists, is acceptable to the major players in the region, and represents the ethnic makeup of the country, and provides the foundation for future reconstruction of that country.

In the long term, our girl-- our goals are very easy to articulate, but they're very much more difficult to achieve. We need to deter any potential state sponsor of terrorism from providing for-- from providing support or a haven to future bin Ladens. We'll work with others and try to help rebuild a politically and socially stable Afghanistan that does not export terrorism narcotics or a militancy to its neighbors and to the wider world.

The resolution says what we and many of our-- our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans alike are in agreement on, that deepening America's military involvement in Iraq by escalating our troop presence is a mistake. US strategy and presence on the ground in Iraq can only be sustained with the support of the American people and the bipartisan support of the United States Congress.

Ladies and gentlemen, this resolution will demonstrate that and will demonstrate it right away, that support is not there for the president's policy in Iraq. The sooner he recognizes that reality and acts on it, the better off all of us will be.

We have another Republican candidate who's been my friend for 30-- 32 years. But he's the same-- he's telling us the same thing. He's making the same commitments. This time, he says it will be different. It really will. He says this time, the country's going to be put before party, that there's going to be a change in tone.

We're going to reach across the aisle. He's going to change the Republican Party. I love how Republican nominees are always going to change the Republican Party. He's going to change how Washington works. Well, folks, we've seen that movie before. And you know from experience the sequel is always worse than the original--

[LAUGHTER]

[APPLAUSE]

So folks, on all the important issues-- on all the important issues-- and I mean this sincerely-- John, my friend, is talking about change. I said this to John when I see him, and I say this to everybody. I say this to the press. Name me one single substantive difference on a major policy issue John McCain has with President Bush. It doesn't make him a bad guy, but it sure doesn't make him an agent of change.

Ladies and gentlemen, in my humble opinion, John McCain is profoundly out of touch with the dilemma that average Americans are facing. And nowhere has this failed philosophy been more exposed than during the current financial crisis.

At 9:00 AM last Monday, John held a press conference where he said, and I quote, "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." At 11 AM, John held a press conference saying, "We're in economic crisis." We Catholics call that an epiphany.

[LAUGHTER]

The problem was it was only a political epiphany. It wasn't a substantive policy one. John didn't change any policy. He didn't back off of any of his prescriptions on the economy. He changed his rhetoric.

If he actually realized-- if John actually realized what was going on and he felt in his gut as well as he articulated it in his voice, he would be forced to admit that the economic philosophy that he has been espousing, George Bush's philosophy-- it's not because it's George Bush. There's no difference in philosophy-- is as bankrupt as Lehman Brothers is right now. It is literally bankrupt.

If John cares so much now about, you know, what he now calls-- if you notice, isn't it fascinating it's not Democrats referring to greed on Wall Street and throwing everyone under the bus. It's John McCain, John McCain. The ultimate populist argument is being used by John McCain.

Well, if John McCain was so concerned about what he now characterizes, but I think is an exaggeration, quite frankly-- if John McCain, in fact, is so certain about that, where is John a week ago? Where was John a month ago? Where was John a year ago? Where was he five years ago? Well, I'll tell you where he was.

He was bragging to those same Wall Street executives-- and I can-- we can apply all-- supply you all the quotes and the sources of this. He was bragging up on Wall Street that he was going to the very people he now calls greedy about how he was going to shred the regulations that remained, what we call consumer protections that were built into the system.

We have only one sacred obligation as a nation, only one, and it trumps all others. It's to care for those we send into harm's way and care for them when they come home. That is more consequential than any other obligation we have.

We also hold an inordinately large debt to the families of the 4,295 fallen angels in Iraq, the 679 fallen angels in Afghanistan, the 34,084 wounded in both theaters. We owe those families more than we can ever pay.

And the reason I'm back and the reason President Obama asked me to come back was to send an unequivocal, clear, simple message to all who will listen and those who even don't want to listen-- that America stands with you at this moment and will continue to stand with you. You all know that your Declaration of Independence and your Rose Revolution were the beginning of the process.

In a sense, some of the real hard part is now left. You mentioned protesters. Welcome to democracy. Welcome to democracy.

[APPLAUSE]

And I am not exaggerating when I say many other people in the world are looking to you to see whether or not you can bring the revolution to full fruition and dig those roots, plant those roots-- roots of democracy very deep.

It is not for the United States to dictate what that partnership will be. But to reiterate, President Obama and I have stated clearly that if you choose to be part of the Euro-Atlantic integration, which I believe you have, that we strongly support that.

We do not recognize-- and I want to reiterate it-- any sphere of influence. We do not recognize anyone else's right to dictate to you or any other country what alliances you will seek to belong to or what relationships you-- bilateral relationships you have.

And President Obama, I might add, made it clear in his visit to Moscow this month, the United States supports Ukraine's sovereignty, independence, and freedom, and to make its own choices, its own choices, including what alliances they choose to belong. We're working, as you know, Mr. President, to reset our relationship with Russia.

But I assure you and all the Ukrainian people that it will not come at Ukraine's expense. To the contrary, I believe it can actually benefit Ukraine. The more substantive relationship we have with Moscow, the more we can diffuse the zero sum thinking about our relations with Russia's neighbors.

The most important thing is for these talks to go forward, and go forward promptly, and go forward in good faith. We can't delay, because when progress is postponed, extremists exploit our differences, and they sow hate. These indirect talks everyone knows are just that-- indirect talks, indirect negotiations. The only path, though, to finally resolving the permanent status issues, including border security refugees in Jerusalem are direct talks.

We call on Arab states who share a mutual concern about Iran. We call an Arab state to support the effort to bring peace between Palestinians and Israelis and to take their own steps forward for peace with Israel. The United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, period. I know-- I know that for Israel--

[APPLAUSE]

I know that for Israel, there is no greater existential strategic threat. Trust me, we get that. It's also a threat-- the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran-- it's also a threat to the security short-term, mid-term, and long-term to the United States of America.

Always looking out for a-- a Marine even before he took the oath. Heading officer of the second class, Randall Smith, grandson of a Navy veteran, as we pointed out already, a baseball star in his hometown, always smiling, always there.

We have to use every weapon in our disposal if we're going to meet our goal, tell patients even more than you're already helping them today. And to be honest with you, it requires somewhat of a change in mindset.

It requires a lot more openness, open data, open collaboration, and above all, open minds. You're not going to like this, but imagine if you all work together. I'm not joking. Imagine if you all work together.

[APPLAUSE]

Help us help you how to aggregate more information available immediately. Do you realize if you got an advance grant from DARPA to work on a space program, that even if it had potential military application, your research is immediately instantaneously made available to the whole world?

How can that be, and that not be the case in a scourge facing humanity? There are not easy answers. But no one knows the problem or the potential solutions better than all of you assembled here today.

We not only need your continued scholarship and your incredible capacity, but we need some ideas how to speed this process. May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you very much.

[APPLAUSE]

Ladies and gentlemen, eight years ago, I stood on a stage in Denver.

[CHEERING]

And I accepted your nomination to be vice president of the United States. And every single day since then, it's been the honor of our lives for Jill and me. Every day, we've been grateful to Barack and Michelle for asking them to join us in this and join them in that incredible journey, a journey-- a journey that can only happen in America.

[CHEERING]

But we not only work together. As it becomes pretty obvious, we've become friends. We're now family. We're family.

[APPLAUSE]

Folks, you've all seen over the last eight years what President Obama means to this country. He's the embodiment--

[CHEERING]

He is the embodiment of honor, resolve, and character, one of the finest presidents we have ever had.

[CHEERING]

That's right.

[APPLAUSE]

This is a man of character. And I was talking to Barack today. It's no longer who's going to give the best speech. We already know who did that. You were incredible Monday night.

[CHEERING]

The Delaware delegation, as they say in southern Delaware, Barack and I married way up.

[LAUGHTER]

Way up. Folks, as I stand here tonight, I see so many friends and colleagues like my buddy Chris Dodd in the Connecticut delegation-- so, so many people here.

[CHEERING]

I see the faces of those who-- who have placed their belief in Barack and me. So many faces but one. This is kind of a bittersweet moment for Jill, and me, and our family.

In 2008, when he was about to deploy to Iraq, and again in 2012, our son Beau introduced me to the country and placed my name in nomination. You got a glimpse.

[APPLAUSE]

I know I sound like a dad, but you got a glimpse of what an incredibly fine young man Beau was.

[APPLAUSE]

Thank you. But as Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world breaks everyone. And afterwards, many are strong at the broken places." I've been made strong at the broken places by my love, Jill, by my heart, and my son Hunter, and the love of my life, my Ashley, and by all of you.

And I mean this sincerely. Those of you who've been through this, you know I mean what I say-- by all of you, your love, your prayers, your support. But you know what? We talk about-- we think about the countless thousands of other people who suffered so much more than we have with so much less support, so much less reason to go on.

But they get up every morning, every day. They put one foot in front of the other. They keep going. That's the unbreakable spirit of the people of America. That's who we are.

[CHEERING]

[APPLAUSE]

That's who we are.

Let me say-- let me say something that has nothing to do with politics. Let me talk about something that I am deadly serious about. This is a complicated and uncertain world we live in.

The threats are too great, the times are too uncertain to elect Donald Trump as president of the United States. Now, let me-- let me finish. No major party, no major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less or has been less prepared to deal with our national security.

[CHEERING]

We can not elect a man who exploits our fears of ISIS and other terrorist who has no plan whatsoever to make us safer. A man who embraces the tactics of our enemies-- torture, religious intolerance. You all know, all the Republicans now that's not who we are. It betrays our values.

It alienates those who we need in the fight against ISIS. Donald Trump with all his rhetoric would literally make us less safe. We cannot elect a man who belittles our closest allies while embracing dictators like Vladimir Putin. No, I mean it.

A man who seeks to sow division in America for his own gain and disorder around the world, a man who confuses bluster with strength. We simply can not let that happen as Americans, period.

[APPLAUSE]

I have-- no one ever-- no one ever doubts I mean what I say. It's just that sometimes I say all that I mean.

[LAUGHTER]

But folks, let me tell you what I literally tell every world leader I met with, and I've met them all. It's never, never, never been a good bet to bet against America.

[CHEERING]

We have the finest fighting force in the world.

[APPLAUSE]

Not only--

[COW BELL RINGING]

Not--

CROWD: USA, USA, USA, USA.

JOE BIDEN: Not only-- not only do we have the largest economy in the world. We have the strongest economy in the world. We have the most productive workers in the world. And given a fair shot, given a fair chance, Americans have never, ever, ever, ever let their country down, never, never.

[CHEERING]

Ordinary people like us who do extraordinary things. We've had candidates before who attempted to get elected by appealing to our fears, but they've never succeeded because we do not scare easily. We never bow. We never bend. We never break when confronted with crisis. No, we endure, we overcome, and we always, always, always move forward.

[CHEERING]

That's why-- that's why I can say with absolute conviction I am more optimistic about our chances today than when I was elected as a 29-year-old kid to the Senate. The 21st century is going to be the American century because--

[CHEERING]

--because we lead not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. That is the history of the journey of America. And God willing, God willing, Hillary Clinton will write the next chapter in that journey.

We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line. Don't forget it. God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. God, we're America.

[CHEERING]

29 years ago when I wrote the Violence Against Women Act, rape myths and victim blaming were enshrined in the laws in many states. In my state of Delaware, a fairly progressive state, there's a law that said if God forbid somebody jumped out of a corner in an alley and raped you brutally, they could be tried for first-degree rape.

But if you and I went out on a date, and you voluntarily went with me, I could not be tried for the exact same crime, first-degree rape. It was second-degree, because there must have been something you knew about me you were willing to take a risk on.

I knew then that we had to do more than just change the laws to make them more just. We had to change the culture. We had to develop a national consensus that sexual assault, domestic violence against anyone, should not be tolerated or excused under any circumstance-- any. We had to change the cultural norm.

It still exists that blames the victim and allows the perpetrator to escape accountability. Believe it or not, we faced opposition to those basic ideas when I wrote this law initially. It took four years to finally get VAWA done. And at the time, the other team only gave me seven votes, only seven.

And while we've made progress together, we know violence and abuse of power still persists today. We've recently seen that in stark relief in the disgusting conduct and behavior of a very powerful figure in Hollywood, a man who had power over scores of women and their careers, the ultimate abuse of power in a disgusting, immoral, and inexcusable way.

My father taught me that the greatest sin that could be committed was the abuse of power, whether it was mental, physical, economic. And the ultimate, the cardinal sin, was for a man to use his power physical or economic to abuse a woman or a child. It's disgusting.

Because of the bravery of so many courageous women in Hollywood speaking up, putting their careers at risk, because you know how it works many of you. Even if the public believes it, they judge you as well. They judge you and ask themselves, which they have no right to, were you complicit in this in any way? Why didn't you have the courage to do something?

When I first passed the Violence Against Women Act, I spent most of my time going to men's organizations. Not a joke. Because so many men will say, well, why didn't she just leave, or why didn't she speak up, or she didn't have to take the job? I say, how many of you guys saw the movie "Deliverance?"

[LAUGHTER]

Not a joke. And I say, what scene do you remember? And they all remember the same scene, a guy being tied to a tree and raped by two other men. So how many of you would have had the courage to walk out and report it? Tell me. Well, I'd go home and get my shotgun. I'd come back and I do this.

So why wouldn't you? Because of the cultural norm, you'd be ashamed. The society would judge you even after the fact if they knew even it wasn't your fault. But it still takes courage to speak out. These women in Hollywood speaking out now did it to save other women from similar abuse.

This disgusting behavior, at least in the party of-- on the part of Harvey Weinstein, has been brought to an abrupt and justifiable end. But it's long past time for the powerful men in Hollywood to speak up, to be strong enough to say something, because silence is complicity.

Well, who in God's name would have thought we would be here at this moment with this president? We have a president who is consumed by his political survival. It's the beginning, the middle, and the end. Everything is run through the filter of how it affects Donald Trump and Donald Trump's mind.

And no matter, as we look at this, he, you know, he's in the process of shredding some of our-- our core values. You know, things that, institutions that I never thought we'd ever be talking about that are in jeopardy. I mean, there's an all-out attack on the guys wearing the striped shirts, the press and the courts.

It is a technique that's been used repeatedly throughout history by those who want to clear the field so they are in a position to be able to abuse power more than they otherwise would be able to do. And, you know, no matter how much damage is being done to the moral fabric of the nation or no matter how much damage is being done to our standing in the world, and it's real.

I'm not going to get into quoting the statistics. You know what the national-- what the international polling shows now about how we are viewed as a nation. We're below-- we're-- we're not much above Russia. We're below China. I mean, it's just things that are changing in a way that have so many long-term profound impacts on our security.

We have to do both. And what I find and what you find, because I've been in a lot of your districts and I've been around the country a lot campaigning for people, all they want to know is my dad used to have an expression. He said, I don't expect the government to solve my problems, but I expect them to understand them. I expect them to understand them. Just listen. And you guys do it best.

We got to listen more to what people are concerned about. A lot of people are feeling really hopeless and helpless, and it's not without good reason. Some of you are much more expert than I am, but digitalization, Moore's law, artificial intelligence--

I ran into a guy from Wilmington who used to drive a truck. He made a good living, independent trucker. Went-- went to grade school with him in Clermont. He said, hey, Joey, how are you doing? It's over Christmas time. And I said, you still driving, Tom? He said, no. He said, only guys like you're a politician continue to work. You never worked that hard before anyway.

[LAUGHTER]

And I said, does Tommy, your son, drive? He said, yeah, Joe, he is. But he knows he's not going to have a job in five years. Whether that's true or not, there's a lot of reason for those middle-class, high school-educated working-class people out there to be concerned. We're in the middle of a fourth Industrial Revolution, guys. Things are going to change, big time.

And a lot of people are worried whether will there be any middle-class jobs for me? It's not a false concern. It's real, and there's answers. We've got to talk to them more. We've got to let them know, we hear you. Your fear is not unfounded, but there are answers.

I am more optimistic. But America's chances to own the 21st century than any time I have been in my career. We are better positioned now-- if we just get out of our own way-- better positioned now than we have ever been. North America is the epicenter of energy independence for the remainder of this century. Not Saudi Arabia, not the Middle East, not Venezuela-- North America.

We have the greatest research-- we have more great research universities in America than the entire rest of the world combined. That's not hyperbole.

[APPLAUSE]

That's because of the Republican name Eisenhower with the so-called-- what they call-- they wouldn't call it today, the Wise Man's Committee he put together. They said, invest all this money in government. He said, no. I'm going to invest it in universities. Every major breakthrough that's occurred in the last 20 years has come out of your investment, the American people's investment in research and-- research in universities.

Every major laboratory in the world, nobody can compete with us-- nobody. Our workers are three times as productive, as a matter of fact, as workers in Asia. We have the most agile venture capitalists in the world. Guys, we're in a position where if we just get up, remind ourselves who in the hell we are, remind the American people who we are.

Randy, I remember you asking me in one of the forums I was with, one of your folks asked, well, what am I going to do when I'm president? I said, well, it'll depend on what I'm left with.

- Right.

JOE BIDEN: Now, I really mean it. Look at the damage that has been done just since March by this president not dealing with this pandemic.

I'm a proud Democrat, and I'll be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. So it's with great honor and humility I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America.

Many people have heard me say this, but I've always believed you can define America in one word-- possibilities. The defining feature of America, everything is possible. That in America, everyone, and I mean everyone, should be given an opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them.

One of the lessons my mother taught me-- not a joke-- a long time ago taught me and my siblings, it's one that you probably were taught too out here in Minnesota. She said, Joey, remember, nobody's better than you, but everybody's your equal. Nobody's better than you, but everybody is your equal.

Well, you could say that I'm a lousy candidate, and I didn't do a good job. But I think, I hope that it doesn't say that we are as racially, ethnically, and religiously at odds with one another as it appears the president wants us to be.

And I'm going to say, as I said at the beginning, what is on the ballot here is the character of this country-- decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance. And I'm going to make sure you get that. You haven't been getting it the last four years.

As my high school and college coaches to say in football, it's go time. It's go time now. It may come down to Pennsylvania. And I want to know, I'll let you know I believe in you.

[HONKING]

The season of protest has broken out all across this nation. Protesting is not burning, and looting, and violence. That can't be tolerated and it won't.

But those protests are a cry for justice in the name of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, Walter Wallace Jr. They're not going to soon be forgotten. They're not to be forgotten by me, not by us, not by this country. They'll inspire a whole new wave of Justice in America.

And it ain't over till every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.

[HONKING]

But we're feeling good. We're feeling good about where we are. As I've said all along, it's not my place or Donald Trump's place to declare who's won this election. That's the decision of the American people. But I'm optimistic about this outcome.

Winning means uniting America, not sowing more division and anger. It means not only fighting, but healing the country.

CROWD: Yes!

JOE BIDEN: We have to beat Donald Trump and the Republican Party, but here's the deal. We can't become like them. We can't become like them. We can't have a never-ending war. Above all, it's time for America to get back up. The country is so ready, so ready.

My fellow Americans, and the people who brought me to the dance, Delawareans.

[CHEERING]

I see my buddy Tom-- Senator Tom Carper down there, and I think-- I think Senator Coons is there, and I think the governor's around.

[CHEERING]

Is that Ruth Ann? And our former Governor Ruth Ann Minner. Most importantly, my sisters-in-law, my sister Valerie. Anyway, folks, the people of this nation have spoken.

[CHEERING]

They've delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for we the people. We've won with the most votes ever cast on a presidential ticket in the history of the nation, 74 million.

[CHEERING]

[HONKING]

What I must admit has surprised me, tonight, we're seeing all over this nation, all cities, and all parts of the country, indeed across the world an outpouring of joy, of hope, renewed faith in tomorrow to bring a better day.

[CHEERING]

And I'm humbled by the trust and confidence you placed in me. I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify. Who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.

[CHEERING]

I'll work with all my heart with the confidence of the whole people to win the confidence of all of you. And for that is what America, I believe, is about. It's about people.

And that's what our administration will be all about. I sought this office to restore the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class, and to make America respected around the world again.

[CHEERING]

And to unite us here at home. It's the honor of my lifetime that so many millions of Americans have voted for that vision. And now, the work of making that vision is real. It's a task, the task of our time.

Folks, as I said many times before, I'm Jill's husband. And I would not be here without the love and tireless support of Jill, and my son, Hunter, and Ashley, my daughter, and all our grandchildren, and their spouses, and all our family.

[CHEERING]

They're in my heart. Jill's a mom, a military mom, an educator. And she has dedicated her life to education. But teaching isn't just what she does. It's who she is. For American educators, this is a great day for y'all.

[CHEERING]

You're going to have one of your own in the White House, and Jill's going to make a great First Lady. I'm so proud of her.

[CHEERING]

And I'll have the honor of serving with a fantastic vice president who you just heard from, Kamala Harris--

[CHEERING]

--who makes history as the first woman, first Black woman, the first woman from South Asian descent, the first daughter of immigrants ever elected in this country.

[CHEERING]

Don't tell me it's not possible in the United States.

[HONKING]

It's long overdue. And we're reminded tonight of those who fought so hard for so many years to make this happen. But once again, America's bent the arc of the moral universe more toward justice. Kamala, Doug, like it or not, your family, you become an honorary Biden. There's no way out.

[CHEERING]

To all those of you who volunteered and worked the polls in the middle of this pandemic, local elected officials, you deserve a special thanks from the entire nation.

[HONKING]

And to my campaign team, and all the volunteers, and all who gave so much of themselves to make this moment possible, I owe you. I owe you. I owe you everything.

And all those who supported us, I'm proud of the campaign we built, man. I'm proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse coalition in history-- Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives, young, old, urban, suburban, rural, gay, straight, transgender, white, Latino, Asian, Native American.

[HONKING]

I made it. Especially through those moments, and especially in those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African-American community stood up again for me.

[THUMPS]

[CHEERS]

You've always had my back, and I'll have yours.

[HONKING]

I said at the outset I wanted to represent this campaign to represent and look like America. We've done that. Now, that's what I want the administration look like and act like. For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple of times myself. But now, let's give each other a chance.

[CHEERING]

[HONKING]

It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They're Americans. They're Americans.

[HONKING]

The Bible tells us, "To everything, there's a season. A time to build, a time to reap, and a time to sow, and a time to heal." This is a time to heal in America.

[SCREAMING]

[HONKING]

Now that this campaign is over, what is the will of the people? What is our mandate? I believe it's this. Americans have called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness, to marshal the forces of science, and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time, the battle to control the virus, the battle to build prosperity, the battle to secure your family's health care, the battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country.

[CHEERING]

And the battle to save our planet by getting climate under control.

[HONKING]

The battle to restore decency, defend democracy, and give everybody in this country a fair shot. That's all they're asking for, a fair shot.

Folks, our work begins with getting COVID under control. We can not repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life's most precious moments, hugging our grandchildren, our children, our birthdays, weddings, graduations, all the moments that matter most to us until we get it under control.

On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisors to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that will start on January the 20th, 2021. That plan will be built on bedrock science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy, and concern.

I will spare no effort-- none-- or any commitment to turn around this pandemic. Folks, I'm a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president.

[HONKING]

I'll work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.

[CHEERING]

[HONKING]

The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another, it's not some mysterious force beyond our control. It's a decision, a choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate. And I believe that this is part of the mandate given to us from the American people. They want us to cooperate in their interest, and that's the choice I'll make.

And I'll call on Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to make that choice with me. The American story is about slow yet steadily widening the opportunities in America. And make no mistake. Too many dreams have been deferred for too long. We must make the promise of the country real for everybody, no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability.

Folks, America has always been shaped by inflection points, by moments in time where we've made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be. Lincoln in 1860 coming to save the Union, FDR in 1932 promising a beleaguered country a New Deal, JFK in 1960 pledging a new frontier. And 12 years ago when Barack Obama made history, he told us, yes we can.

[HONKING]

[CHEERING]

Well, folks, we stand at an inflection point. We have an opportunity to defeat despair, to build a nation of prosperity and purpose. We can do it. I know we can. I've long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses.

And what presidents say in this battle matters. It's time for our better angels to prevail. Tonight, the whole world is watching America. And I believe in our best, America is a beacon for the globe. We will not leave-- we will lead not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

[HONKING]

[CHEERING]

As always, I've always believed-- many of you heard me say it. I've always believed we could define America in one word-- possibilities. That in America, everyone should be given an opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them.

You see, I believe in the possibilities of this-- this country. We're always looking ahead, ahead to an America that's freer and more just, ahead to an America that creates jobs with dignity and respect, ahead to an America that cures diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's, ahead to an America that never leaves anyone behind, ahead to an America that never gives up, never gives in.

[CHEERING]

This is a great nation. It's always been a bad bet to bet against America. We're good people. This is the United States of America, and there's never been anything, never been anything we've been able-- not able to do when we've done it together. Folks, in the last days of the campaign, I began thinking about a hymn that means a lot to me and my family, particularly my deceased son, Beau.

It captures the faith that sustains me and which I believe sustains in America. And I hope-- and I hope it can find some comfort and solace for the 230 million-- thousand Americans who've lost a loved one to this terrible virus this year. My heart goes out to each and every one of you. Hopefully, and gives you solace as well, and it goes like this.

"And he will raise you up on eagle's wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, and make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand." And now together on eagle's wings, we embark on the work that God and history have called upon us to do with full hearts and steady heads, faith in America and each other.

With love of country, a thirst for justice, let us be the nation that we know we can be, a nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation hailed, the United States of America. Ladies and gentlemen, there's never, never been anything we've tried and not been able to do. So remember as my Grandpop, our Grandpop used to say when I walked out of his home when I was a kid up in Scranton, he said, Joey, keep the faith.

And our grandmother when she was alive, she'd yell, no, Joey. Spread it. Spread the faith. God love you all. May God bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

[HONKING]

At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we've seen in modern times, an assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself. An assault on the people's representatives and the Capitol Hill police sworn to protect them, and the public servants who work at the heart of our republic.

An assault on the rule of law like few times we've ever seen it. An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, the doing of the people's business. Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are.

What we're seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It's disorder. It's chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.

You've heard me say before in a different context, the words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire.

At their worst, they can incite. Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath, and defend the Constitution, and demand an end to this siege.

To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, the floor of the United States Senate rummaging through desk, on the Capitol on the House of Representatives threatening the safety of duly elected officials, it's not protest. It's insurrection. The world's watching.

Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy, has come to such a dark moment. Through war and strife, America has endured much, and we will endure here, and we will prevail again, and we'll prevail now.

The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law, just plain simple decency. The renewal of the politics, that's about solving problems, looking out for one another, not stoking the flames of hate and chaos.

As I said, America's about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. That's who we are. That's who we've always been. The certification of the-- the electoral college vote was supposed to be a sacred ritual. It's where we affirm-- the purpose is to affirm the majesty of American democracy.

But today's a reminder-- a painful one-- that democracy is fragile. And to preserve it requires people of goodwill, leaders with the courage to stand up, who are devoted not to the pursuit of power, but with the personal interest pursuits of their own selfish interest at any cost, but of the common good.

And this God-awful display today, let's bring it home to every Republican, and Democrat, and independent in the nation that we must step up. This is the United States of America. There's never, ever, ever, ever, ever been a thing we've tried to do that we've done it together, we've not been able to do it. So President Trump, step up.

May God bless America. May God protect our troops and all those folks at the Capitol who are trying to preserve order. Sorry to have kept you waiting.

- What about your inauguration, sir? Are you concerned about violence?

JOE BIDEN: I am not concerned about my safety, security, or the inauguration. I am not concerned. The American people are going to stand up. Stand up now. Enough is enough is enough.

AMY KLOBUCHAR: It is now my great privilege and high honor to be the first person to officially introduce the 46th president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Junior.

[CHEERING]

[APPLAUSE]

JOE BIDEN: Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris--

[CHEERING]

--Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, my distinguished guests, my fellow Americans, this is America's day. This is democracy's day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.

Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

[CHEERING]

[APPLAUSE]

So now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the capital's very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries as we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on a nation we know we can be and we must be.

I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know--

[APPLAUSE]

And I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation, as does President Carter, who I spoke with last night who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime in service.

[APPLAUSE]

I've just taken the sacred oath each of those patriots have taken, the oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people who seek a more perfect union. This is a great nation. We are good people.

And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we've come so far, but we still have far to go. We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities-- much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.

Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now. A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country has taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.

Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of Justice for all will be deferred no longer.

[CHEERING]

[APPLAUSE]

A cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear. And now, a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

[CHEERING]

[APPLAUSE]

To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy-- unity, unity. In another January, on New Year's Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, "If my name ever goes down into history, it'll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it." My whole soul is in it. Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.

[APPLAUSE]

Uniting to fight the foes we face-- anger, resentment, and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness, and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus.

We can reward-- reward work, and rebuild the middle class, and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world. I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep, and they are real. But I also know they are not new.

Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal, that we're all created equal, and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured.

Through Civil War, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us, enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward. And we can do that now. History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.

We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.

This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we've acted together.

And so today, at this time, in this place, let's start afresh, all of us. Let's begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another.

Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.

[APPLAUSE]

[WHISTLES]

My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this. And I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol Dome, as was mentioned earlier completed, amid the Civil War, when the Union itself was literally hanging in the balance. Yet we endured. We prevailed.

Here we stand, looking out in the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream. Here we stand where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today, we marked the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don't tell me things can't change.

[APPLAUSE]

Here we stand across the Potomac from Arlington Cemetery, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace. And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground.

It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever, not ever.

[CHEERING]

[APPLAUSE]

To all those who supported our campaign, I'm humbled by the faith you've placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That's democracy. That's America.

The right to dissent peaceably within the guardrails of our republic is perhaps this nation's greatest strength. Yet hear me clearly. Disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you. I will be a president for all Americans, all Americans.

[APPLAUSE]

And I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.

[APPLAUSE]

Many centuries ago, St. Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote that, "A people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love," defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we as Americans love that define us as Americans? I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor, and yes, the truth.

[APPLAUSE]

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

Look, I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand like my Dad, they lay in bed staring at-- at night staring at the ceiling wondering, can I keep my health care? Can I pay my mortgage? Thinking about their families, about what comes next.

I promise you, I get it. But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don't look like-- look like you, or worship the way you do, or don't get their news from the same sources you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus Earlham-- or rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.

We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we're willing to stand in the other person's shoes. As my Mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes.

Because here's the thing about life. There's no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days when you need a hand. There are other days when we're called to lend a hand. That's how it has to be. That's what we do for one another. And if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. And we can still disagree.

My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we're going to need each other. We need all our strength to preserve-- to persevere through this dark winter. We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation.

[APPLAUSE]

And I promise you this, as the Bible says, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." We will get through this together, together.

[APPLAUSE]

Look, folks, all my colleagues I serve with in the House and the Senate up here, we all understand the world is watching, watching all of us today. So here's my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested, and we've come out stronger for it.

We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday's challenges, but today's and tomorrow's challenges. And we'll lead not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

[APPLAUSE]

We'll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security. Look, you all know we've been through so much in this nation. In my first act as president, I'd like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those who we lost this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans-- moms, dads husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

We'll honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be. So I ask you, let's say a silent prayer for those who've lost their lives, and those left behind, and for our country. Amen.

Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America's role in the world-- any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways.

But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've had. Now, we're going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It's time for boldness, for there's so much to do. And this is certain. I promise you we will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.

We will rise to the occasion is the question. Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children? I believe we must. I'm sure you do as well. I believe we will. And when we do, we'll write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America, the American story, a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me.

It's called " American Anthem." And there's one verse that stands out, at least for me, and it goes like this. "The work and prayers of a century have brought us to this day. What shall be our legacy? What will our children say? Let me know in my heart when my days are through. America, America, I gave my best to you."

Let's add-- let's us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation. If we do this, then when our days are through, our children and our children's children will say of us, they gave their best. They did their duty. They healed a broken land. My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath.

Before God and all of you, I give you my word, I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I'll defend our democracy. I'll defend America. And will give all-- all of you-- keep everything I do in your service, thinking not of, power but of possibilities, not of personal interest, but the public good.

And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division, of light, not darkness, a story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us, and the story that tells age is yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment.

Democracy, and hope, truth, and justice did not die on our watch, but thrived. That America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebearers, one another, and the generation to follow. So with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May God bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.

[CHEERING]

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]