Biden Makes Closing Argument in Georgia, Invoking Roosevelt

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden invoked the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt in a speech near the former president’s Georgia retreat on Tuesday, promising to heal the nation from a set of cascading crises in his closing argument just a week before Election Day.

Speaking from Warm Springs, Biden used Roosevelt’s efforts to alleviate his polio in the therapeutic waters as a metaphor for the work that lies ahead.

“This place, Warm Springs, is a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed,” Biden said. “That as a people and a country, we can overcome this devastating virus. That we can heal a suffering world. And yes, we can restore our soul and save our country.”

Biden Makes Closing Argument in Georgia, Invoking Roosevelt

The trip to Georgia, which a Democratic presidential candidate has not carried since 1992, also signified the state’s changing political dynamics. Georgia is fully in play this year, and Biden is hoping to flip the state from President Donald Trump. According to FiveThirtyEight’s average of state polls, Biden narrowly leads Trump 48% to 46.8%.

Democrats are also hoping he will help their candidates win two highly competitive Senate seats in the state. Biden hosted a drive-in rally in Atlanta with both of them, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, on Tuesday evening.

“There aren’t a lot of pundits who would have guessed four years ago that a Democratic candidate for president in 2020 would be campaigning in Georgia in the final week of the election,” he said. “Or that we’d have such competitive Senate races in Georgia, but we do.”

“We win Georgia,” he concluded. “We win everything.”

Yet it was in Biden’s speech in Warm Springs where he laid out his closing case to the American people. He assailed Trump for surrendering in the struggle against coronavirus and vowed to confront the pandemic with aggressive action while also addressing income inequality, climate change and racial inequities.

“If you give me the honor of serving as your president: clear the decks for action,” Biden said. “We will act on the first day of my presidency to get Covid under control. We will act to pass my economic plan that will finally reward work — not wealth — in this country. We will act to pass my health care plan to provide affordable, accessible health care to every American.”

Biden has cast the race as a referendum on Trump’s first term and largely about his mismanaged response to the coronavirus, which has killed more than 225,000 Americans amid a new surge of infections rising across the U.S.

The former vice president has sought a contrast with Trump on all facets of his approach to the virus, from his personal behavior to his policies. Biden has held limited in-person campaign events, all of which strictly follow social-distancing guidelines, and has called for a muscular federal response.

Trump has consistently downplayed the virus, despite his own hospitalization after contracting it earlier this month, and is holding several large campaign rallies a day.

“I’m here to tell you we can and will get control of this virus,” Biden said, as he slammed Trump’s behavior and rhetoric about the virus. “As president, I will never wave the white flag of surrender.”

In the months since the onset of the pandemic in March, Biden has often raised Roosevelt’s stewardship of the country through the Great Depression, calling for national leadership that improved the country in the aftermath of a crisis.

“I think we all agree, whoever is the next president is going to inherit an economy and circumstance that is as dangerous and consequential as Roosevelt did after the Depression,” Biden said at a fundraiser last month.

In a New Deal echo, Biden has proposed spending heavily to increase testing, distribute protective equipment to schools and business and vaccinate all Americans at no charge.

Biden, a devout Roman Catholic, also referenced Pope Francis, repeating his warning against phony populism to call for healing and unity.

“The Bible tells us that there is a time to break down, and a time to build up. And a time to heal,” he said. “This is that time. God and history have called us to this moment and to this mission: With our voices and our votes, we must free ourselves from the forces of darkness, from the forces of division, and from the forces of yesterday — from the forces that pull us apart, hold us down, and hold us back.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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