As members of his family entered the stage, the president-elect held his new grandchild and put his arms around his son Hunter Biden, standing alongside his father, a key moment signalling the family’s strong bonds, broadcast to millions of people following Donald Trump’s attempts to disrupt them.
President-elect Biden held the baby – named Beau, after his late son, Hunter’s brother, who died in 2015 following a brain cancer diagnosis – as a fireworks show lit up the sky above them.
“I would not be here without the love and tireless support of Jill, Hunter, Ashley, all of our grandchildren and their spouses, and all our family,” he said in his remarks. “They are my heart.”
His wife Jill Biden “has dedicated her life to education, but teaching isn’t just what she does – it’s who she is,” he said.
“For America’s educators, this is a great day,” he said. “You’re going to have one of your own in the White House, and Jill is going to make a great First Lady.”
His focus on family – and the incredible losses facing thousands of families during the coronavirus pandemic – has been central to the 2020 race, building on his career-long campaign of intimacy and empathy, speaking from personal experience of family loss and its toll, and the strength he has found among others and in his faith.
Neither president-elect Biden nor his running mate Kamala Harris mentioned the president by name in their remarks; Mr Biden mentioned the names of his family members, and Hunter was mentioned by both his father and Senator Harris before he joined the family onstage.
Moments before his family shared the stage with him on 7 November, hours after elections analysts declared him the victor in the 2020 presidential races, the Democratic president-elect – likely to become the nations’s 46th president – invoked a “time to heal” and defined the mandate before him with his election.
“I believe it is this: Americans have called on us to marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness,” he said. “To marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.”
Throughout the race, the president and his GOP allies in Congress and on the campaign sough to paint Hunter and, by extension, the Bidens as emblematic of the corruption that the president said he aimed to uproot.
Among his attacks, the president lied during the first presidential debate that Hunter was “thrown out of the military” and “dishonorably discharged for cocaine use,” raising the spectre of addiction facing many Americans – and one on which Mr Biden immediately pounced.
“My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem,” he said on 29 September. “He’s overtaken it, he’s fixed it, he’s worked on it, and I’m proud of him.”
Hunter Biden, who was at the centre of the president’s impeachment for withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for compromising information on the Biden family through Hunter’s connections with a Ukrainian energy firm, also was the subject of debunked reports about an alleged scheme to enrich his father.
The president-elect also discussed his son Beau, a former Delaware attorney general and Iraq War veteran that has inspired him to continue holding public office.
“In the last days of the campaign, I’ve been thinking about a hymn that means a lot to me and to my family, particularly my deceased son Beau,” he said. “It captures the faith that sustains me and which I believe sustains America.”
He hoped that hymn – from Psalm 91 – “can provide comfort and solace to the more than 230,000 families who have lost a loved one to this terrible virus this year. My heart goes out to each and every one of you. Hopefully this hymn gives you solace as well.”