President-elect Joe Biden declared it was “time to heal” a deeply divided America in his first speech after winning in a bitter election, even as President Donald Trump refused to concede and pressed ahead with legal fights against the outcome.
Biden‘s victory on Saturday in Pennsylvania put him over the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes he needed to clinch the presidency, ending four days of nail-biting suspense and sending his supporters into the streets of major cities in celebration.
“The people of this nation have spoken. They have delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory,” Biden told supporters in a parking lot in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
The Democrat pledged that as president he will seek to unify the country and “marshal the forces of decency” to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuild economic prosperity, secure health care for American families and root out systemic racism.
Without addressing his Republican rival, Biden spoke directly to the over 70 million Americans who cast ballots in support of Trump, some of whom took to the streets on Saturday to demonstrate against the results.
“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple 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,” he said.
“This is the time to heal in America.”
He also thanked Black voters, saying that even at his campaign’s lowest moments, the African American community had stood up for him. “They always have my back, and I’ll have yours,” he said.
Biden was introduced by his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, who will be the first woman, the first Black American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president, the country’s No. 2 office.
Congratulations poured in from abroad, including from conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, making it hard for Trump to push his repeated claims, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him.
Trump, who was golfing when the major media networks projected his rival had won, immediately accused Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner.”
“This election is far from over,” he said in a statement.
Trump has filed a raft of lawsuits to challenge the results, but elections officials in states across the country say there has been no evidence of significant fraud, and legal experts say Trump’s efforts are unlikely to succeed.