Extend ‘promises of the country’ to all, President-elect Joe Biden says after election win

Joey Garrison
 
| USA TODAY

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WASHINGTON —  President-elect Joe Biden delivered a celebratory message but also a message of healing for the nation in his first remarks Saturday following a bitter and divisive battle for the presidency.

“America has always been shaped by inflection points, by moments in time we’ve made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be,” Biden said at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, where the horns from hundreds of cars and cheers could be heard between his words. “Folks, we stand at an inflection point.”

Biden’s remarks came as President Donald Trump continues to contest the results of the cliffhanger election, arguing without evidence that hundreds of thousands of votes are in question. His address, in addition to setting the tone for a Biden transition and presidency, were a symbol that the Democrat was working to move the nation past the contentious election.

The former vice president sought to drive that message home from the very beginning of his remarks – saying voters had delivered a “clear victory, a convincing victory.”

“Folks, the people of this nation have spoken,” he said.

Reciting one of his slogans from the campaign trail, Biden said he ran for president for all Americans, not just Democrats.

“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment,” Biden said. “I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But 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.”

Biden was introduced by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, wearing all white in nod to the suffragist movement. The first woman vice president, Harris said she wouldn’t be the last.

“Every little girl that’s watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” she said.

Biden quotes Catholic hymn ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ in his acceptance speech

President-elect Joe Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy, recalled the Catholic hymn “On Eagle’s Wings,” a song he said was important to his family and his deceased son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

“It captures the faith that sustains me, which I believe sustains America. And I hope and I hope I can provide some comfort and solace,” he told the crowd before reciting the hymn. “And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn. Make you to shine like the sun and hold you in the palm of his hand.”

During the campaign, President Donald Trump accused Biden of being “against God” despite the devout Catholic’s frequent references to his faith. Biden, who has often talked about how his Catholic faith helped him survive the death of his first wife and their daughter in a 1972 car crash, dismissed Trump’s comments as an attempt at making a cynical appeal to religious conservatives.

As he wrapped his remarks on Saturday, Biden recalled his grandfather telling him to “keep the faith” before adding that his grandmother chimed in, “no Joey, spread it. Spread the faith.”

Courtney Subramanian

Black Lives Matter Plaza the scene of celebration 

Music is blasting as hundreds of people are cheer, dance, light fireworks and pop champagne in the streets of Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. The mood is jubilant even as some in the crowd pull away to watch President-Elect Joe Biden delivered a speech on their cell phones. 

Police blocked off several streets and stores banks and businesses are boarded up surrounding the plaza which is just blocks away from the White House.

Mary Philips, an independent contractor, said she came to the plaza earlier this week and has been here for several hours today to celebrate. Philips said she’s felt spiritually broken over the past four years under President Trump, but the news of Biden’s election brought “exuberance and relief.”

“We’ve been waiting for this for four years,” she said “It was important for us to come down here,  important for us to be as citizens together again in the same jubilation and expression in getting rid of the resident.”

Philips, who is Native American, said she was particularly proud the Native community had” come out in droves” to vote for Biden and hopes under the new administration they will be able to undo some of the damage that was done under Trump.

Courtney O’Neil, 33, broke down in tears as she listened to Joe Biden’s speech broadcast from a large speaker in Black Lives Matter Plaza.

“The last four years I’ve been embarrassed to be an American and I am so proud of where we are right now and where we’re going to go,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil, who came to the demonstration with her best friend and boyfriend, said Biden’s belief in equality was necessary to bring people together.

“I think it’s exactly what we need right now,” she said. “We’re a long way away from healing the country, but this is a step forward.”

N’dea Yancey-Bragg

Biden, Harris victory speeches amid sea of car horns, cheers

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris gave their victory speeches amid a sea of honking car horns and cheering supporters waving American flags in an outdoor event in Wilmington, Delaware.

The scene was different than massive rally-like victory celebrations of past presidents, such as President Barack Obama’s massive Chicago speech in 2008.

The speeches took place at the Chase Center, an events center on the Christina River that had become a gathering spot for Biden supporters since Election Day.

— Sean Rossman 

Biden to Trump supporters: ‘Let’s give each other a chance’

President-Elect Joe Biden made a direct appeal to supporters of President Donald Trump and called the moment a “time to heal” in America.

“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment,” Biden said. “I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But 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.”

Reciting one of his slogans from the campaign trail, Biden said he ran for president for all Americans, not just Democrats.

Joey Garrison

Biden: I’m Jill’s husband

In his acceptance speech, President-elect Joe Biden was quick to identify himself not as the 46th president but as the husband to Jill Biden.

“I’m Jill’s husband,” he declared. “Teaching isn’t just what she does, it’s who she is.”

The soon-to-be first lady, who has been a fixture on the campaign trail and was praised for her speech at the Democratic National Convention, is a college English professor with four degrees, including a doctorate.

Jill Biden taught at Northern Virginia Community College during the eight years her husband served as vice president and intends to do so from the East Wing. She plans to be the first FLOTUS in the role’s 231-year history to keep a paying job while living in the White House and serving as first lady.

“For American educators, this is a great day for y’all. You’re going to have one of your own in the White House,” he said as the crowd cheered.

Courtney Subramanian

Biden thanks Black voters for his victory

President-elect Joe Biden specifically thanked Black voters for his victory.

“The African American community stood up for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours,” he said as he pounded the podium.

Black voters helped power Biden’s comeback during the Democratic presidential primary, helping him win South Carolina in his first primary victory of the campaign. They also broke decisively for Biden on Election Day.

Nicholas Wu

Biden makes first reference to Trump

Making his first reference to President Donald Trump during his remarks Saturday, President-elect Joe Biden said he understood the disappointment many Americans feel at the result of the election.

“I’ve lost a couple of times myself,” he said, a reference to the fact that he had run for president twice before.

Then, Biden offered a plea for the country.

“Let’s give each other a chance,” he said. “We have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”

John Fritze

Biden sticks to the message ’til the end: unify and restore

President-elect Biden stuck to his campaign’s message to the end, that he seeks to “restore the soul of this nation.”

“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify. Who doesn’t see red states and blue states, but only the United States,” Biden said, reiterating the tone and messaging from his campaign.

— Savannah Behrmann

Biden: ‘The people of this nation have spoken’

President-Elect Joe Biden, introduced by Harris, jogged to the stage wearing a mask as Bruce Springsteen played in the sound system.

“Hello, my fellow Americans,” he said, addressing the nation for the first time since he was declared winner of the race for president. “And the people who brought me to the dance, Delawareans.”

“Folks, the people of this nation have spoken,” Biden said. “They’ve delivered a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for we the people. We won with the most votes ever cast for a president in the history of the nation – 174 million.”

He said he’s “humbled by the trust and confidence” that the voters showed in him and vowed to work for the whole country, not just one party.

— Joey Garrison 

Harris looks ahead to the ‘hard work’ ahead

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris told supporters the “hard work” was yet to come after the election, pointing to the agenda she and President-elect Joe Biden hoped to accomplish.

She highlighted the “essential work” to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, working to “root out systemic racism,” to “combat the climate crisis,” “to unite our country,” and “restore the soul of our nation.”

“The road will not be easy,” she said. “But America is ready. And so are Joe and I.”

Democrats are unlikely to win control of the Senate, which could make it difficult for a Biden administration to pass ambitious legislation.

Nicholas Wu

Harris’ suit a likely nod to women’s suffrage

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris walked on stage Saturday night in a crisp, white suit — a likely nod to the suffragettes of the 20th century who worked to get women the right to vote.

The Democratic Women’s Caucus earlier this year wore all white to the State of the Union address, marking 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Hillary Clinton also wore a white suit during her acceptance speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Harris walked on stage to the song “Work That” by Mary J. Blige, the theme song she has walked out to literally hundreds of times since the Democratic primary. Tonight, it was her first melodic stroll as the first Black and South Asian woman to be elected Vice President of the United States.

Harris: ‘New day for America’

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris, making her first remarks since the election was closed, praised voters for ushering in a “new day” for America.

“When our very democracy was on the ballot,” said Harris, the first woman election vice president. “You ushered in a new day for America.”

Harris started her remarks with a reference to Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon who died in July.

“You chose hope and unity,” she said. “And yes, truth.”

John Fritze

Biden to project unity in acceptance speech. Trump did, too

Four years ago, President Donald Trump took the stage as president-elect after an upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton that stunned Americans and people across the world. But the newly elected president-elect struck a conciliatory tone after a bruising campaign against Clinton, much like President-elect Joe Biden is expected to do Saturday night in his first remarks since winning the presidency.

“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division – have to get together,” Trump told screaming supporters at the New York Hilton. “To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”

Trump, who is known for his divisive rhetoric, refused to concede to Biden since the race was called on Saturday afternoon. The president has instead vowed to forge ahead with legal challenges in several battleground states that helped the former vice president clinch the presidency. In a series of tweets on Saturday, Trump insisted that won the election and repeated baseless claims of election fraud, accusing Democrats of “stealing” the election – a marked departure from the comments he made four years ago when he declared victory.

— Courtney Subramanian

Biden arrives at Chase Center

President-elect Joe Biden arrived Saturday at Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, where he will make his first remarks since he won a long and bitter presidential election.

Biden is expected to speak in the 8 p.m. ET hour after being introduced by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. His motorcade, broadcast on cable networks as it made its way to the center, was lined in several spots with supporters.

Cheers and flags were raised, cowbells rang, and horns honked in greeted the motorcade.

The historic moment underscored a shift in the country ushered in by the election after four years of President Donald Trump.

The president, who did appear in public on Saturday, has not conceded the election and has claimed, without evidence, that hundreds of thousands of ballots are in question.

Though Biden has spoken several times since the election, his address Saturday will be his first major remarks since winning the election and will likely set a rhetorical course for the expected transition of power.

John Fritze and Camille Caldera

How he won: How Joe Biden flipped the electoral map and won with room to spare

Biden clinched after win in Pennsylvania

Trump returned to the White House on Saturday afternoon after playing a round of golf earlier in the day as thousands celebrated Biden’s victory outside.

Biden’s remarks will come hours after the former vice president crossed 270 electoral votes Saturday morning. Clinching a win in Pennsylvania put him over the top four days after Election Day as officials in several states continued to count a record volume of mail-in ballots cast during the coronavirus pandemic. 

His victory set off celebrations in streets and parks across the country, from Washington, D.C., and New York to Atlanta and San Francisco. 

Celebrations across the country: Supporters took to the streets in glee as Biden secures presidency

At 77 years old and turning 78 in two weeks, Biden is the oldest person elected to president. Harris, a first-term senator from California, will become the first woman, African American and South Asian American vice president. The two will be sworn into office Jan. 20 after electors meet  Dec. 14 and Congress accepts the election results Jan. 6.

For Biden, the pinnacle of a long career

Biden secured the electoral win as the coronavirus pandemic reached an all-time high in daily positive cases and as the economy continues to struggle with high unemployment. Biden has vowed to implement a new plan to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 the day he takes office.

Biden, who spent four decades representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate and eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, entered the race calling the election a  “battle for the soul of the country,” a message he kept through a tough primary and his campaign against Trump. 

His manta was aimed at the polarization stoked by Trump, who refused to condemn white nationalists, enacted travel bans targeting immigrants from Muslim nations, promised to build a wall at the Mexican border and denied systemic racism.

‘Hopefully it will calm down’: The election is over. Now a stressed nation looks for normalcy under Joe Biden

The win for Biden is the pinnacle of a long political career. He ran twice for president before, losing in 2008 and 1988. Biden thought about running for president four years ago, but bowed out after his son, Beau Biden, died from brain cancer earlier in 2015.

This year’s election, the most unusual in recent history given the constraints of the pandemic, remained in doubt for days because of the unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots.

Pennsylvania, with 20 crucial electoral votes, was among states that could not begin processing its 2.6 million absentee ballots until Election Day. It meant initial numbers on election night showed Trump ahead before most of the mail-in ballots – which overwhelmingly favored Biden – could be tallied. Biden surpassed Trump in the vote tally on Friday and continues to build his lead.

A similar “blue shift” favoring Biden played out in other states including Georgia, where the race is still too close to call but Biden leads, and Nevada, which Biden also secured Saturday.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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