President-elect Joe Biden stopped short of declaring victory on Friday night, instead seeking to unify a divided nation and urge patience with the democratic process as the vote count continues in key states.
“I know watching these vote tallies on TV move slowly upward can be numbing,” Biden acknowledged in his speech in Wilmington, Delaware.
Vox in partnership with Decision Desk HQ has projected that the former vice president is the winner of the election, but other major news organizations have yet to call the race in his favor. Biden appears to be waiting until there is consensus that he is the president-elect to deliver a victory speech.
But then he quickly pivoted to a message of unity. “We may be opponents — but we are not enemies,” he said.
Biden has often said on the campaign trail that he would be a president both to people who did vote for him and those who didn’t. He reiterated that message on Friday night, saying that he feels a “duty of care for all Americans” to deal with pressing issues including the Covid-19 pandemic, racial justice, and climate change.
“The purpose of our politics is not total unrelenting warfare,” he said. “We have to put the anger and demonization behind us. It’s time for us to come together as a nation to heal.”
He said that even though the votes are still being counted, he is not wasting any time in getting ready to assume the presidency just as the US reported the highest number of new Covid-19 cases in a single day and approaches 240,000 total deaths from the virus. He said that he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have been taking meetings with public health and economic experts to prepare to deal with the pandemic and an increasingly precarious economic recovery.
“We’re not waiting to get the work done,” he said.
Biden, who has earned a record 74 million votes and counting, also projected confidence that he has achieved a decisive victory, claiming that Americans have “given us a mandate.” He predicted that he would become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona in 24 years and to win Georgia in 28 years.
President Donald Trump has yet to concede the election and multiple news outlets have reported that he doesn’t intend to do so, but Biden assured Americans to nevertheless maintain faith in the democratic process.
“Look, we both know tensions are high,” he said. “But we need to remember — we have to remain calm. As we count all the votes, we’re proving again what we’ve proved for 244 years in this country: Democracy works. Your vote will be counted. I don’t care how hard people try to stop it. I will not let it happen.”
“I hope to be talking to you tomorrow,” he added, suggesting that he anticipates that a consensus will emerge about the result in the next 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Trump has baselessly claimed that Democrats are “trying to steal an election” while filing a slew of lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia seeking better access for Republicans to monitor the ballot counting process and to prevent certain mail-in ballots from being counted.
Trump has invoked that litigation in calling into question the legitimacy of the vote counts and Biden’s victory. Republican officials have also alleged widespread voter fraud without presenting any evidence.
However, new reporting on Friday suggests that aides are quietly wondering how to approach Trump about the fact that the election is unwinnable.
Races remain uncalled in several states, including in Georgia, where a recount is expected due to the small margin. But Biden didn’t need Georgia to win, since he had already surpassed the 270 electoral vote threshold to become the next president and could still win more electoral votes.
Trump was not scheduled to address the American people on Friday night, but he said in a series of tweets that Biden should not yet claim victory while legal proceedings are ongoing and questioned how Biden had taken the lead in key states.