WASHINGTON — An energized President-elect Joe Biden pledged to “restore the soul of America” and “marshal the forces of decency,” as supporters honked from their cars or stood cheering and waving flags at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.
In a Saturday night speech meant to celebrate his victory in the election with a record 74 million votes, Biden swept through remarks that have been staples of his stump speeches. He pledged to represent red states and blue states, those who voted for him and against, and said, “We have to stop treating our opponents like our enemies.”
During the speech that remained determinedly upbeat after he jogged up to the podium to drink in the moment of his accomplishment, Biden did not refer to or mention President Donald Trump by name.
“There’s never ever been anything — anything — we’ve been unable to do, unable to accomplish, when we’ve done it together,” Biden said.
After affirming his commitment to combat climate change and work for racial justice, Biden announced that on Monday he would name a transition team of scientists and experts who would convert his coronavirus plan into action starting on Jan. 20, when he takes the oath of office. “I will spare no effort, none, or any commitment, to turn around this pandemic.”
“Democracy is not a state; it is an act,” the California senator said, quoting the late Rep. John Lewis, as she gave thanks for “bringing more people than ever before into the democratic process” — a reference to the record number of votes — for the Biden-Harris ticket.
Harris praised Biden for “breaking a substantial barrier” by picking the first female vice president.
Earlier Saturday, The Associated Press, Fox News, CNN and NBC called the presidential race for Biden, after reporting that Biden had won Pennsylvania with its 20 Electoral College votes.
Biden, now 77, is set to become the oldest president in American history. A former Democratic senator from Delaware first elected in 1973, Biden had run for president in 1988 and 2008, but dropped out early in both Democratic primaries. The likelihood that he could become commander in chief was revived when the winner of the 2008 nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, chose the seasoned Biden to be his running mate, adviser and bridge to Capitol Hill.
Harris, whose mother was an immigrant from India and whose father is an immigrant from Jamaica, will make history as the first woman and first person of color to serve as vice president.
Trump not conceding
The Associated Press and other top news organizations called the race for Biden as Trump was at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. Trump did not appear to be in the mood for unity or to concede the hard-fought race. As the race was about to be called, Trump tweeted simply, “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT.”
I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2020
After Trump returned to the White House, the press office called a “lid,” which meant that Trump was not expected to be seen in public. The president’s schedule has no public events listed this weekend.
The Trump campaign released a statement in which Trump maintained Biden “is rushing to falsely pose as the winner,” with the media’s help.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” the statement continued. “Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor. In Pennsylvania, for example, our legal observers were not permitted meaningful access to watch the counting process. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.”
The Trump campaign continued to question the vote counts in a number of battleground states, including Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania, and pledged to push for greater scrutiny to move the needle in their direction.
Legal action planned
Trump’s personal attorney — former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — held a Saturday news conference in Philadelphia where he introduced residents who said they had been denied the ability to observe the vote count.
Retired attorney Lisette Tarragano said she never got past the first identification phase necessary to participate as an observer. “I felt insidious fraud going on,” she told reporters as she faulted “the insidious nature of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania governments.’”
Giuliani said that the Trump campaign would file a lawsuit alleging that the campaign “was denied its right to a fair count.” Equitable remedies, Giuliani said, could be depriving a jurisdiction of a number of votes equal to the number of votes “that are not inspected properly. It could be to set aside an election.”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued an order Friday instructing Pennsylvania to segregate ballots received after 8 p.m. Election Day.
“It’s not over until the slate of electors is certified and empaneled,” said Chuck DeVore, vice president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The president, DeVore noted, “should do what Al Gore did in 2000. He should use all of his legal options. He should encourage legislatures to audit the vote.” If there is evidence that there were problems that could change things he should “continue to ensure a full and fair accounting of the vote in each of the contested states.”
Even still, with AP estimating that Trump had amassed 214 electoral college votes to Biden’s 290 votes, it is hard to see a path to re-election for Trump.
Former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg told the Review-Journal that Trump is “never going to formally concede. I don’t expect you’ll see him inviting Biden for a sit-down in the Oval during the transition. Nor should he.”
“I don’t think he liked losing,” Nunberg added. “Deep down he knows he could have won” if he had done a few things differently, such as performed better in his first debate with Biden.
But Nunberg added, he expects National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien, Vice President Mike Pence and officials at the Department of Homeland Security will cooperate with Biden’s transition team.
Reactions roll in
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who had sparred with Trump over nuclear waste issues and his social distancing policies, which limited Trump’s ability to hold his signature packed rallies in Nevada,’ congratulated his fellow Democrats.
“First and foremost, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic win in this election,” he said in a statement. “As Governor, I look forward to working closely with their administration to help Nevada – the State hit hardest by both COVID-19 and climate change.”
In Washington, New York and other cities, enthusiastic residents took to the streets to celebrate and cheer. While many wore masks, few appeared to be social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
“My initial reaction was one of overwhelming relief. I felt like I was holding my breath for four years. I can almost feel a collective sigh,” Biden friend and former adviser Moe Vela told the Review-Journal. “I just feel this global sigh. This sigh of relief.”