President-elect Joe Biden declared it was “time to heal” America in his first speech after prevailing on Saturday in a bitter election, even as President Donald Trump refused to concede. Biden made his speech to the Nation from HQ in Wilmington, Delaware, the state he represented in Congress since first elected at age 27.
Biden’s victory in the battleground state of Pennsylvania put him over the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes he needed to clinch the presidency, ending four days of nail-biting suspense and sending his supporters into the streets of major cities in celebration.
”The people of this nation have spoken. They have delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory,” Biden told cheering supporters in a parking lot during his victory speech in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify,” he said, then addressed Trump’s supporters directly.
“Now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” he said. “This is the time to heal in America.”
He was introduced by his running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, who will be the first woman, the first Black American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president, the country’s No. 2 office.
“What a testament it is to Joe’s character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country, and select a woman as his vice president,” Harris said.
Congratulations poured in from abroad, including from conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Argentine president Alberto Fernandez and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, making it hard for Trump to push his repeated claims, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him.
Trump, who was golfing when the major television networks projected his rival had won, immediately accused Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner.” He added that “This election is far from over” in a statement.
Trump has filed a raft of lawsuits to challenge the results but elections officials in states across the country say there has been no evidence of significant fraud, and legal experts say Trump’s efforts are unlikely to succeed.
As the news of his win broke, loud cheers erupted in the halls of the hotel where aides to the former vice president were staying. Cheers and applause were also heard around Washington, with people emerging onto balconies, honking car horns and banging pots. The wave of noise in the nation’s capital built as more people learned of the news. Some sobbed. Music began to play, “We are the Champions” blared.
There were no signs of the violence or turmoil many had feared, and the pro-Trump protests mostly faded as the results sunk in. Prior to the election, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost, and he falsely declared victory long before counting was complete.
Former and present political leaders also weighed in, including congratulations from former Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican U.S. Senator Mitt Romney. Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham called on the Justice Department to investigate claims of voting irregularities.
When Biden enters the White House on Jan. 20, the oldest person to assume the office at age 78, he likely will face a difficult task governing in a deeply polarized Washington, underscored by a record nationwide voter turnout.
Both sides characterized the 2020 election as one of the most crucial in U.S. history, as important as votes during the 1860s Civil War and the 1930s Great Depression.
Biden’s victory was driven by strong support from groups including women, African Americans, white voters with college degrees and city-dwellers. He beat Trump by more than four million votes in the nationwide popular vote count.
Biden, who has spent half a century in public life as a U.S. senator and then vice president under Trump’s predecessor Obama, will inherit a nation in turmoil over the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic slowdown as well as protests against racism and police brutality.