NEW YORK: US President-elect Joe Biden has thanked American voters for delivering “a clear victory” for him in the fiercely-fought election, calling America a “beacon for the globe” and promising to lead it by setting an example.
“Tonight the whole world is watching America and I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe. We will lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example,” Biden said i in Wilmington, Delaware, before a mask-wearing crowd watching from their cars and trucks, honking in support and waving American flags.
He vowed to heal a nation torn apart by deep political and racial divisions and promised to hear the concerns of both Americans who voted for him and the tens of millions who supported President Trump.
The president-elect said he would leave behind this “grim era of demonetization in America” and do his best to “unify” the country at a moment of historic civil unrest.
Biden’s passionate victory speech focused on domestic issues, especially bringing the nation together and pulling it out of the coronavirus crisis.
The brief reference to the world spoke of US power and its leadership, with the warning to those betting against it. He said his task is “to make America respected around the world again”. “This is a great nation. It has always been a bad bet to bet against America. We are good people. This is the United States of America,” Biden added.
He appealed directly to the more than 70 million Americans who cast their ballots for Trump, saying he understands their disappointment and wants to return to an era where people are able to remain friendly despite their political differences.
“For all those of you who voted for President (Donald) Trump, I understand your disappointment tonight,” Biden said. “I’ve lost a couple myself.
But let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies, they are Americans.”
“This is the time to heal in America,” Biden added. Biden will face many difficult and immediate challenges upon being sworn into office on January 20.
There has been a resurgence in the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 people in America, wreaked havoc on the economy and torn at the nation’s social fabric.
Biden will likely lead a divided government, as Republicans remain favoured to keep control of the Senate and the Democratic majority in the House is expected to be the smallest in decades.
Trump is not expected to concede the race, which was called in Biden’s favor Saturday morning after four days of vote counting. Trump’s campaign is flooding several states with legal challenges and making unsubstantiated claims about the election having been stolen through fraud.
Trump’s four years in office exposed the deep political polarization that has overcome the nation and been exacerbated by the pandemic, economic anxiety and social media.
Biden addressed all of those challenges in his victory speech, pledging to restore an atmosphere of decency and compromise, rather than one of political warfare and brinkmanship.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify,” Biden said. “Who doesn’t see red states or blue states, only sees the United States. I’ll work with all my heart to win the confidence of all of you.”
Biden did not criticize Trump directly in his speech, although he did appear at one point to reference what he described as the president’s reckless and divisive rhetoric as being a driving force behind the nation’s polarization.
“Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses,” Biden said. “What presidents say in this battle matters. It’s time for our better angels to prevail.”
Biden’s most pressing challenge as president will be getting the coronavirus under control and potentially overseeing the distribution of a vaccine, when one becomes available.
On Friday night, Biden announced he would appoint a transition team made up of scientists and experts to develop a plan of action so he can hit the ground running when he takes office Jan. 20.
“We cannot repair the economy and restore our vitality or enjoy life’s most precious moments … until we get it under control,” Biden said. “I will spare no effort — or commitment — to turn this pandemic around.”
But Biden’s remarks were also a victory speech that represents the culmination of a decades-long career in politics.
More than 74 million people turned out to vote for Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris, the most for any presidential ticket in history.
Ms. Harris will also make history as being the first woman, Black person and person of South Asian descent to be vice president. NNI