Biden Launches: 'We Are in the Battle for the Soul of This Nation'

By Susan Jones | April 25, 2019 | 7:20am EDT
Video of the 2017 Charlottesville protest used as a launchpad for Joe Biden's presidential bid. (Screen capture)

(CNSNews.com) - Former Vice President Joe Biden launched his 2020 bid for the Democrat presidential nomination around 6 a.m. Thursday, releasing a video that recalled a terrible day in Charlottesville, Virginia and slammed the Trump presidency as "an aberrant moment in time."

"We are in the battle for the soul of this nation," Biden said.

In his announcement video, Biden used words and images to describe the Klansmen and neo-Nazis who came to Charlottesville in August 2017 -- "their crazed faces illuminated by torches, veins bulging, and baring the fangs of racism, chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 30s."

Biden said President Trump "stunned the world and shocked the conscience of the nation" by saying there were "some very fine people on both sides."

"At that moment I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime," Biden said. "I wrote at the time that we're in the battle for the soul of this nation. Well, that's even more true today. We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.

"I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen. The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America is at stake."

Biden said that's why he's running for president.

"We can't forget what happened in Charlottesville," he concluded. "Even more important, we have to remember who we are. This is America."

A complete transcript of his remarks is below:

Charlottesville, Virginia is home to one of the great documents in human history: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. We've heard it so often, it almost a cliché, but it's who we are. We haven't always lived up to these ideals -- Jefferson himself didn't -- but we have never before walked away from them.

Charlottesville is also home to a defining moment for this nation in the last few years. It was there on August of 2017 we saw Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open, their crazed faces illuminated by torches, veins bulging, and baring the fangs of racism, chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 30s.

They were met by a courageous group of Americans, and a violent clash ensued, and a brave young woman lost her life. And that's when we heard the words of the president of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscience of this nation. He said there were, quote, "Some very fine people on both sides." Very fine people on both sides? With those words the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.

And at that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime. I wrote at the time that we're in the battle for the soul of this nation. Well, that's even more true today. We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.

I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen. The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America is at stake.

That's why today I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States. Folks, America's an idea -- an idea that's stronger than any army, bigger than any ocean, more powerful than any dictator or tyrant. It gives hope to the most desperate people on earth. It guarantees that everyone is treated with dignity. It gives hate no safe harbor. It instills in every person in this country the belief that no matter where you start in life, there's nothing you can't achieve if you work at it.

That's what we believe. And above all else, that's what's at stake in this election. We can't forget what happened in Charlottesville. Even more important, we have to remember who we are. This is America.

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