After three nights of build-up and nearly 50 years in American politics, this was Joe Biden’s moment to deliver.
Two failed bids for the White House, two luminary partners in Barack Obama and Kamala Harris – could he be the one to excite and inspire?
When the moment came, it packed a punch few were expecting.
An energised pitch with a sense of urgency. His tone sober, reflecting the mood of the country, as he tore into Donald Trump‘s “unforgivable” response to the coronavirus crisis.
“This is a life-changing election that would determine the country’s future for a very long time,” he said.
At times it felt less like he was campaigning, but warning the American public that their vote was a monumental choice.
“America is at an inflection point,” he warned, calling it “a time of real peril but also extraordinary possibility”.
At times it was deeply personal. He shared painful memories of losing his wife and daughter in a car crash, and his son to cancer, in a bid to connect with Americans experiencing loss and hardship in this pandemic.
He was framing himself as the candidate with a plan to lead the country out of “this season of darkness”. The candidate with empathy.
Even Donald Trump’s biggest fans would probably admit empathy isn’t his greatest quality.
But let’s not forget there are swathes of Americans who believe the threat of COVID-19 is being exaggerated to hamper Donald Trump’s re-election.
Nevertheless, there’s a set of undecided voters looking to be convinced. Did Biden do it tonight?
Joe Biden still has a significant lead over Donald Trump in most polls. But so did Hillary Clinton in August 2016.
Clinton won the popular vote by one of the biggest margins in history, but still didn’t win the White House.
This election will again be won and lost on the crucial battleground states. One of those, Pennsylvania – described as “ground zero” – was Donald Trump’s campaign destination on Thursday.
Polls often become more volatile and uncertain after the conventions in the run up to the election, so this could be the last reliable assessment of the state of the race before 3 November.
One consistent trend, though, is polls show an unprecedented interest and enthusiasm in this election.
Nevertheless, Joe Biden launched a strong pitch tonight.
He may not excite younger, progressive voters who see him as the old guard. But he presented himself as a safe pair of hands to steer the country through “a perfect storm” of crises.
And for some voters that may just be enough to convince them he’s the man for the moment.