Hope, Healing And 'Better Angels': Biden Declares Victory And Vows Unity
The president-elect called for cooperation among Americans of all stripes, saying, "Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now."
Updated at 9:25 p.m. ET
President-elect Joe Biden called for healing and cooperation in a victory speech on Saturday night, striking an optimistic tone about the prospects for a renewed and reunited America.
"I sought this office to restore the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation," Biden said. "And to make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home. It is the honor of my lifetime that so many millions of Americans have voted for that vision. And now, the work of making that vision real — it's a task, thetask, of our times."
"I've long talked about the battle for the soul of America," he said. "It's time for our better angels to prevail."
"The people of this nation have spoken," Biden declared. "They've delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for we the people."
But the former vice president, who pledged throughout his candidacy that he would represent the Americans who voted for outgoing President Trump as well as those who voted for him, reiterated that promise in his address Saturday.
"Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now," he said, calling for Democrats and Republicans in Congress to cooperate with each other.
He also emphasized the vital importance of controlling the coronavirus, which is hitting new record levels, promising to bring experts on to his transition team beginning on Monday.
"I will spare no effort ... to turn around this pandemic," he said.
As a grim and difficult year draws to a close, Biden hearkened back to history with calls of American exceptionalism and laid out a hopeful vision for the future.
"Now together on eagle's wings we embark on the work that God ... called us to do," Biden said, citing a hymn he said has brought comfort to his family. "With full hearts and steady hands, with faith in America and each other, with love of country, a thirst for justice, let us be the nation that we know we can be – a nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed, the United States of America."
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will make history as the first woman, first Black person and first Asian-American to serve as vice president, spoke Saturday evening ahead of Biden's speech. She thanked election workers as well as the voters who participated in an election with record turnout.
"You chose hope and unity, decency, science and, yes, truth," she said. "You chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America."
Harris celebrated the groundbreaking nature of her victory, too: "Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities."
Biden and Harris spoke Saturday night in Wilmington, Del. Like many of his campaign stops, the event was held as a drive-in rally to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Masked supporters were cheering and waving flags from car hoods and pickup beds.
The former vice president's path to being elected the 46th president of the United States was a tumultuous one, marked by unprecedented campaign challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic and an incumbent opponent who declared a premature victory, baselessly attacked the integrity of the election and is now filing a flurry of last-minute legal actions in an attempt to deny Biden's victory.
President Trump did not speak publicly on Saturday, but in written remarks he refused to concede. In a statement, he vowed to take the election to the courts and falsely accused Biden of seeking to violate election laws. On Twitter, he inaccurately claimed victory and asserted that observers had not been allowed access to vote counts, which is false.
Some prominent Republicans have congratulated Biden and pushed back on Trump's false claims of fraud, while others have either remained silent or expressed support for Trump's legal challenges to the voting process.
Read the transcript of Biden's prepared remarks below.
Congressman John Lewis, before his passing, wrote: "Democracy is not a state. It is an act."
And what he meant was that America's democracy is not guaranteed.
It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it and never take it for granted.
And protecting our democracy takes struggle.
It takes sacrifice. There is joy in it and there is progress.
Because We The People have the power to build a better future.
And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.
To our campaign staff and volunteers, this extraordinary team — thank you for bringing more people than ever before into the democratic process and for making this victory possible.
To the poll workers and election officials across our country who have worked tirelessly to make sure every vote is counted — our nation owes you a debt of gratitude as you have protected the integrity of our democracy.
And to the American people who make up our beautiful country — thank you for turning out in record numbers to make your voices heard.
I know times have been challenging, especially the last several months.
The grief, sorrow, and pain. The worries and the struggles.
But we've also witnessed your courage, your resilience, and the generosity of your spirit.
For 4 years, you marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives, and for our planet.
And then, you voted. You delivered a clear message.
You chose hope, unity, decency, science, and, yes, truth.
You chose Joe Biden as the next President of the United States of America.
Joe is a healer. A uniter. A tested and steady hand.
A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us, as a nation, reclaim our own sense of purpose.
And a man with a big heart who loves with abandon.
It's his love for Jill, who will be an incredible First Lady.
It's his love for Hunter, Ashley, his grandchildren, and the entire Biden family.
And while I first knew Joe as Vice President, I really got to know him as the father who loved Beau, my dear friend, who we remember here today.
To my husband Doug, our children Cole and Ella, my sister Maya, and our whole family — I love you all more than I can express.
We are so grateful to Joe and Jill for welcoming our family into theirs on this incredible journey.
And to the woman most responsible for my presence here today — my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who is always in our hearts.
When she came here from India at the age of 19, maybe she didn't quite imagine this moment.
But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.
So, I'm thinking about her and about the generations of women — Black Women.
Asian, White, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation's history who have paved the way for this moment tonight.
Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often Prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.
All the Women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.
Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision — to see what can be unburdened by what has been — I stand on their shoulders.
And what a testament it is to Joe's character that he had 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 won't be the last.
Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.
And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message:
Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they've never seen it before.
And we will applaud you every step of the way.
To the American people:
No matter who you voted for, I will strive to be the Vice President that Joe was to President Obama — loyal, honest, and prepared, waking up every day thinking of you and your families. Because now is when the real work begins.
The Hard work. The Necessary work. The Good work.
The essential work to save lives and beat this pandemic.
To rebuild our economy so it works for working people.
To root out systemic racism in our justice system and society.
To combat the climate crisis.
To unite our country and heal the soul of our nation.
The road ahead will not be easy.
But America is ready. And so are Joe and I.
We have elected a president who represents the best in us.
A leader the world will respect and our children can look up to.
A Commander in Chief who will respect our troops and keep our country safe.
And a President for all Americans.
It is now my great honor to introduce the President-elect of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
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