President-elect: 'A victory for the people'

President-elect Joe Biden speaks Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Associated Press

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect speak to supporters

The Associated Press

Joe Biden is pledging to be a president “who seeks not to divide but to unify.”

Biden is delivering his first remarks as president-elect at a victory party in Wilmington, after he was officially declared the winner of the presidential election on Saturday. Biden jogged onto the stage wearing a black suit, black mask and light blue tie. He pointed and waved at the screaming crowd gathered to hear him speak.

Echoing his campaign stump speech, Biden promised to be a president who “doesn’t see red states or blue states, only sees the United States,” and said he would work “with all my heart” to win the confidence of all Americans.

Biden touted the fact that he’s won more votes than any presidential ticket in history, calling his win “a convincing victory, a victory for the people.” He also said he was “surprised” by seeing the celebrations and an “outpouring of joy” in the wake of his win nationwide.

Biden said that “once again, America’s bent the arc of the moral universe more toward justice.”

The president-elect also reached out to Trump supporters.

He said “this is the time to heal in America” and pledged to be a president to represent even those who didn’t support him.

Noting”I’ve lost a couple times myself,” Biden said, “now, let’s give each other a chance.”

Trump has not conceded the race to Biden, pursuing legal challenges over ballot counts in several states.

Biden said “it’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” saying of his political opponents, “they are not our enemies. They are Americans.”

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President-elect Joe Biden speaks Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris is paying tribute to Black women who “so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy.”

Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, is the first woman to be elected to the vice presidency.

Harris noted her ascension to the role comes 100 years after the 19th Amendment was ratified and 55 years after the signing of the Voting Rights Act, which expanded who could participate in American democracy.

She praised Joe Biden for having “the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exist in our country” by selecting a woman as his running mate.

“Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a county of possibilities,” Harris said.

The remarks were some of the most direct she has delivered about her history-making role as Biden’s running mate.

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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris arrives to speak Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The challenge to govern

Joe Biden knew he wouldn't be the most electric candidate or the most compelling speaker. He knew that he was running as an old, white man in a party that is growing younger and more diverse. He knew that to win, he would need both the energy of liberals and the support of centrists, slices of the electorate with little in common beyond a shared disdain for President Donald Trump.

Biden ultimately emerged victorious, a moment of both celebration and relief for his supporters. But the results sent mixed messages about the nation's eagerness to turn the page on one of the most polarized periods in modern American history. 

Biden carried some of the key battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, by narrow margins. He won more votes nationwide than any presidential candidate — more than 74 million and counting — but Trump's popular vote total also topped previous records, reflecting the president's hold not only on his core supporters but the Republican Party at large. 

With victory in hand, Biden has claimed a mandate. Whether he actually has one will soon be put to the test. 

Trump can make Biden's transition into the White House difficult. He gets 10 more weeks in office and can wield his executive powers across a range of issues. And once he does depart the White House, he'll still have his high-octane Twitter feed, and perhaps even a continuation of his rallies, to keep mobilizing his supporters. 

Biden will have to navigate that deep divide among Americans. And in Washington, he may try to revive a lost art: bipartisan compromise.

Some Democrats scoff at the notion that Republicans might see any incentive to work with Biden. Others believe Biden's long history in the Senate gives him a fighting chance of winning over some in the GOP.

"The fact that he has long-standing relationships with Republicans in the House and Senate will be an advantage. He's a known quantity to them," said Valerie Jarrett, who worked with Biden while serving as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. 

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President-elect Joe Biden speaks Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Biden will also be pushed from the left flank of his own party. Liberals largely put aside their own frustrations with Biden's more moderate record during the general election, deciding that the need to defeat Trump was greater than their differences with the former vice president's health care or climate change proposals.

"Electing Biden is not the end-all, it is the beginning," said Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who challenged Biden for the Democratic nomination, then led the way in urging progressives to back him. 

Biden's victory does bring to an end Trump's tumultuous administration and signals a new approach to the nation's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty and social unrest. 

Biden said he would name a pandemic task force on Monday, not waiting to take office.

Then, Biden took a calculated risk as the pandemic took hold, turning his own campaign into a model of how he would manage the crisis as president. He shuttered his campaign headquarters and halted his in-person events; when he did travel, he wore a mask and kept his distance from others. The contrast between Biden and Trump, who continued traveling the country for rallies and ultimately contracted the virus himself, was stark. 

Now, the pandemic and its ripples across nearly every aspect of American life will soon be Biden's to manage. He will inherit one of the most complex sets of issues to face an incoming president since Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1933 during the Great Depression. 

For a moment, however, Biden can bask in the crowning achievement of his nearly five-decade career in public life. He ran for the presidency twice before 2020, both failed, short-lived campaigns. After he passed on running in 2016, it appeared likely his White House ambitions would go unfulfilled. 

It was Trump who pulled him back into the arena, who gave his campaign a sense of purpose. It is Trump who helped him win. 


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