Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden expressed reverence for former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his last formal pitch to Georgia voters before next Tuesday’s election, using restorative and religious notes to amplify his commitment to “heal” the frayed American morale under President Donald Trump.
“The divisions in our nation are getting wider. Anger and suspicion are growing. Our wounds are getting deeper,” Biden said on Tuesday afternoon in Warm Springs. “And many wonder: Has it gone too far? Have we passed the point of no return? Has the heart of this nation been turned to stone?” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t think so. I refuse to believe it. I know this country. I know our people. And I know we can unite and heal this nation.”
Biden spoke for 20 minutes in the same town as Roosevelt’s picturesque “Little White House,” which he constructed primarily to serve as a calming refuge for his debilitating polio, calling it a “magnificent setting.” During his address, Biden subtly drew parallels to those suffering from coronavirus today.
“Warm Springs is a good place to talk about hope and healing,” he said outdoors. “This is where Franklin Roosevelt came ‘to use the therapeutic waters’ to rebuild himself. Stricken by the poliovirus in 1921, he suffered from paralysis. Like so many other Americans in those pre-vaccine decades, FDR longed to live an independent life, a life that wasn’t defined by his illness. To him, and to so many others facing physical challenges, Warm Springs offered therapy for the body, and I might add, for the soul.”
Biden honored the 32nd president’s style of promoting “empathy, courage, optimism” in the face of personal pain, while “lifting us out of the Great Depression, defeating tyranny, saving democracy,” he said, linking to those themes in his own campaign. He spoke with a particular focus on racial injustice, at one point evoking George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s names, and used religious terms several times.
“God and history have called us to this moment and to this mission,” Biden said. “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.”
On message, Biden also devoted time to criticizing Trump’s divisive approach to the pandemic that has taken and is still plaguing thousands of lives throughout the country.
“Many of these lives lost in the cruelest way possible,” Biden said. “Alone. Alone in a hospital room. Alone in a nursing home. No family. No friends. No loved ones beside them in those final moments.”
“I know how it feels to lose someone you love. I know that deep black hole that opens up in your chest,” he said. “The tragic truth of our time is that COVID has left a deep and lasting wound in this country.”
Later on Tuesday in Atlanta, Biden is expected to speak at a “drive-in” event, which has become a campaign favorite. In the state, polling averages show a statistical tie between the two nominees, with Biden at 47.6 percent and Trump at 47.2 percent.
“When news of FDR’s death went out on the wires, an editor in Chicago turned to his colleagues and said, ‘Clear the decks for action,’” Biden said. “So I say to you today: If you give me the honor of serving as your president, clear the decks for action, for we will act.”