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Biden Addresses Nation After Electoral College Affirms Victory

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If nothing else, events of the past few weeks called attention to how this republic really works. Yesterday, members of the Electoral College met in each of the 50 states. In a series of announcements, they affirmed the results of the presidential election. California's electoral votes came late in the day and gave Joe Biden a majority.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: For Joseph R. Biden of Delaware, a Democrat, ayes 55, noes zero.

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: The electors have unanimously cast 16 votes for Joseph R. Biden.

(CHEERING)

INSKEEP: That second voice was the announcement out of Georgia, which also voted for Biden despite weeks of efforts by President Trump to overturn the will of its people. When the voting was over, President-elect Biden went on TV to criticize the departing president for failing to respect the rule of law. He also called for the country to unite against the twin crises of the pandemic and the troubled economy. NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe is with us for more. Good morning.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: So this is actually kind of a cool day for government geeks and history geeks, presidential election geeks.

(LAUGHTER)

INSKEEP: What was the day like?

RASCOE: You know, it played out pretty much as expected. Trump's continued to make these baseless claims about widespread election fraud, so the day got more attention than it normally would because it was another milestone solidifying Biden's win. You know, California put Biden over 270, and in the end, Biden got exactly 306 votes there. There were no faithless electors who refused to back Biden or changed the votes at the margins.

INSKEEP: OK, everybody following this process that was set up by the Constitution in 1787 and, a little bit more recently than that, was connected to the popular vote in each state. When it was done, the president-elect spoke on TV. What did he have to say?

RASCOE: He talked a lot about the election, basically saying that the will of the people prevailed, democracy worked. He did call out Trump, as well as state attorneys general and lawmakers who supported him, calling their effort to overturn the election extreme. Here's more from Biden.

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JOE BIDEN: It's a position so extreme we've never seen it before, a position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law and refused to honor our Constitution.

RASCOE: So Biden is pushing back against these unprecedented challenges to the election.

INSKEEP: Yeah, the last of those challenges was rejected by the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it - said that the attorney general of Texas had no standing for his baseless claims. Now, Biden also then turned to the milestones yesterday - vaccines are being distributed, 300,000 people dead now from the pandemic. What does he expect to see in the weeks ahead?

RASCOE: He's been warning it will be a dark winter, and we heard more of that and also empathy for those who have lost loved ones.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: My heart goes out to each of you in this dark winter of the pandemic, about to spend the holidays and the New Year with a black hole in your heart, without the ones you loved at your side.

RASCOE: His broader message was that Americans need unity to get through the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis that the country is in.

INSKEEP: Well, speaking of unity, have Republicans more - have more Republicans acknowledged the reality of Biden's election at this point?

RASCOE: Some Senate Republicans are reluctantly acknowledging Biden's win. Lawmakers like Lindsey Graham are still not calling Biden president-elect, but they're saying he's likely going to be the president.

INSKEEP: OK. Ayesha, thanks.

RASCOE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Ayesha Rascoe. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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