President-elect Joe Biden claimed victory Saturday night, pledging in an address to the nation “to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify,” and drawing a contrast between himself and President Donald Trump without speaking the incumbent’s name.
He also evoked former President Barack Obama, promising that as president he wouldn’t “see red states and blue states, but only sees the United States” and pledging “to work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as for those who did.”
“Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses,” Biden said. “And what presidents say in this battle matters. It’s time for our better angels to prevail tonight.”
He said that on Monday he would name a group of experts as transition advisers to design a plan “built on a bedrock of science” to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.
He closed with a nod to both his faith and his son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015, quoting words from the hymn “On Eagle’s Wings,” which he said they both loved.
“And now together, on eagle’s wings, we embark on the work that God and history has called upon us to do, with full hearts and steady hands, with faith in America and each other,” Biden said.
Biden took the stage outside the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Del., on Saturday night, four long days after the election. An audience of about a thousand ebullient supporters was present, many in their cars, waving American flags and blue lights distributed by the campaign. Some tailgated with food and drinks. Thousands more supporters gathered in the surrounding streets.
Fireworks went off immediately after Biden’s remarks, as well as a light display spelling out “President-elect Biden” in blue and the number 46 in a circle, as well as “VP-elect Harris.”
Biden was preceded onstage by his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, whose ascent marks a turning point for women, people of color, immigrants, and the people of India and Jamaica, who celebrated her victory on Saturday.
Harris praised Biden for having “the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his vice president.”
“But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she said. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Harris also gave a shout-out to the Black women whose dedicated organizing and votes for Democrats have been “too often overlooked,” she said, but who are “the backbone of our democracy.”
She promised that she and Biden would tackle everything from the Covid-19 pandemic to systemic racism, climate change and equity.
The Associated Press and cable networks called the race shortly before noon on Saturday, naming Biden and Harris the winners of the hard-fought contest against President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Pennsylvania, where Biden trailed by more than 600,000 votes on election night, tipped in his favor on Friday morning, and on Saturday added 20 additional electoral votes in Biden’s column, putting him over the 270-vote threshold for victory.
Trump has not conceded the race and has vowed to fight the election results in court.
In brief remarks on Friday night, scheduled in the hope that the race would have been called by then, Biden urged patience with the vote-counting process and reminded his audience — and the current president — that “the purpose of our politics isn’t total, unrelenting, unending warfare.”
Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.