President-elect Joe Biden spoke Saturday night from Wilmington, Delaware, in his first appearance since he was projected as the winner of the election over Donald Trump.
His running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who is her own history maker as the first woman, first Black person and first person of Asian descent to hold the office, introduced Biden, whom she called a "president for all Americans."
Biden jogged onto the stage as he waved and pointed at the crowd outside Chase Center. "Folks, the people of this nation have spoken. They've delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for we, the people. We've won with the most votes ever cast on a presidential ticket in the history of the nation, 74 million!" Biden, 77, said in his first remarks as president-elect.
"And what I must admit has surprised me, tonight we're seeing all over this nation, all cities in all parts of the country, indeed across the world, an outpouring of joy, of hope of renewed faith in tomorrow, bring a better day. And I'm humbled by the trust and confidence you've placed in me," he said. "I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify. Who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States. And work with all my heart with the confidence of the whole people, to win the confidence of all of you. And for that is what America I believe is about. It's about people. And that's what our administration will be all about."
Biden continued, "I sought this office to restore the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class, and to make America respected around the world again. And to unite us here at home. It's the honor of my lifetime that so many millions of Americans have voted for that vision. And now, the work of making that vision is real, it's a task — the task of our time."
The former vice president also thanked his family. "Folks, as I said many times before, I'm Jill's husband. And I would not be here without the love and tireless support of Jill and my son Hunter and Ashley, my daughter, and all our grandchildren and their spouses and all our family. They're my heart. Jill's a mom, a military mom, an educator. And she has dedicated her life to education, but teaching isn't just what she does. It's who she is. For American educators, this is a great day for y'all. You're gonna have one of your own in the white house. And Jill's gonna make a great first lady. I'm so proud of her," he said.
Biden also praised his running mate and stressed her history-making role. "I'll have the honor of serving with a fantastic vice president who you just heard from, Kamala Harris, who makes history as the first woman, first Black woman, the first woman from South Asian descent, the first daughter of immigrants ever elected in this country," he said. "Don't tell me it's not possible in the United States! It's long overdue. And we're reminded tonight of those who fought so hard for so many years to make this happen. Once again, America's bent the arc of the moral universe more towards justice. Kamala, Doug, like it or not, you're family. You've become an honorary Biden. There's no way out."
Then, Biden thanked his team and the many supporters who worked together during his campaign. "To all those of you who volunteered and worked the polls in the middle of this pandemic, local elected officials, you deserve a special thanks from the entire nation. And to my campaign team and all the volunteers and all who gave so much of themselves to make this moment possible. I owe you. I owe you. I owe you everything. And to all those who supported us, I'm proud of the campaign we built and ran. I'm proud of the coalition we put together. The broadest and most diverse coalition in history," he said. "Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Progressives, Moderates, Conservatives, young, old, urban, suburban, rural, gay, straight, transgender, white, Latino, Asian, Native American. I mean it. Especially those moments — and especially those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African-American community stood up again for me. You always had my back and I'll have yours. I said at the outset, I wanted to represent — this campaign to represent and look like America. We've done that. Now that's what I want the administration to look like and act like."
Then, the president-elect shifted his speech with a plan to unite the country, even addressing those who may have not supported him. "For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. 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. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans. They are Americans. The Bible tells us, 'to everything there is a season: a time to build, a time to reap, and a time to sow and a time to heal.' This is the time to heal in America," Biden said.
Elsewhere, Biden added: "Folks, I'm a proud Democrat. But I will govern as an American president. I'll work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now. The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another, it's not some mysterious force beyond our control. It's a decision. A choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate. And I believe that this is part of the mandate given to us from the American people. They want us to cooperate in their interest, and that's the choice I'll make. And I'll call on Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to make that choice with me. The American story is about slow yet steadily widening the opportunities in America. And make no mistake, too many dreams have been deferred for too long. We must make the promise of the country real for everybody, no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability."
Since Election Day on Tuesday, Biden has called for patience and unity as the protracted counting of millions of mail ballots made it more and more clear he was going to defeat President Trump, who is the first incumbent ousted from office in nearly three decades.
(Trump, 74, has refused to concede the election, arguing while offering no evidence that the votes against him must be fraudulent.)
In a brief statement earlier Saturday, immediately after Biden was declared the winner by various media organizations tracking the votes, he said he was "honored and humbled" and he asked the country to move forward together.
"With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal," he said in his statement. "We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together."
Biden's 2020 win fulfills a lifelong political career, including six terms as a Delaware senator, two previous unsuccessful presidential campaigns and eight years as Barack Obama's vice president.
Even as the transition between the Biden and Trump administrations is legally underway, Trump has said he will fight on — including bringing various legal challenges.
He faces dim odds, however, given the scope of Biden's victory in the Midwest as well as in Arizona and Nevada and in Georgia (the latter state where he leads by a small margin, with a recount sure to follow before the results are confirmed).
"I've long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. And what presidents say in this battle matters. It's time for our better angels to prevail. Tonight, the whole world is watching America. And I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe," Biden said towards the end of his speech on Saturday night.
"We will not lead — we will lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example. I know, I've always believed, many have you heard me say it, I've always believed we can define America in one word: possibilities. That in America everyone should be given an opportunity to go as far as their dreams and god-given ability will take them. You see, I believe in the possibility of this country," he shared.
"We're always looking ahead, ahead to an America that's freer, more just. Ahead to an America that creates jobs with dignity and respect. Ahead to an America that cures diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. Ahead to an America that never leaves anyone behind. Ahead to an America that never gives up, never gives in. This is a great nation. It's always been a bad bet to bet against America. We're good people. This is the United States of America, and there has never been anything, never been anything we've not been able to do when we've done it together," Biden said.
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