The country, Mr. Biden said, was â€œcrying out for leadership.â€
Mr. Bidenâ€™s remarks, which were by turns optimistic about Americaâ€™s potential and somber about the depth of its challenges, came as his team moved urgently to press a more aggressive case against Mr. Trump at an extraordinarily high-stakes moment for the country, marked by a pandemic, devastating unemployment numbers, racial strife and violent clashes between police and protesters during the demonstrations, which in many cities have led to looting.
Heightening the tensions, in the last several days alone, Mr. Trump has called protesters â€œterrorists,â€ spent time in an underground bunker and visited a church for photographs with a Bible, while peaceful protesters were dispersed with tear gas to clear his path. His campaign is increasingly seeking to paint Mr. Biden as sympathetic to those â€œcausing mayhem,â€ as Mr. Trumpâ€™s team put it on Tuesday.
To chart his own vision for the country, Mr. Biden left his home in Wilmington, Del., to travel to Philadelphia. It is the city where the nationâ€™s founding documents were crafted, where President Barack Obama gave his famous speech on race in 2008, and where Mr. Biden held his first large-scale rally of the 2020 campaign, promising to heal the soul of the country and calling for national unity. It is now also a city rocked by riots and growing racial tensions.
In his remarks, which lasted around 20 minutes, Mr. Biden both rebuked his opponent, urging him to consult the Constitution and the Bible instead of eviscerating the â€œguardrails” of democracy, and also said that defeating Mr. Trump would not be enough to heal the nationâ€™s centuries-old divisions and hatreds as he called for immediate policing reforms.
â€œWeâ€™re a nation in pain,â€ Mr. Biden said. â€œWe must not let our pain destroy us. Weâ€™re a nation enraged, but we cannot let our rage consume us. Weâ€™re a nation thatâ€™s exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us. As president, itâ€™s my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues and to listen, because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, we can overcome.â€