US Election 2020: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris say it’s time to heal

US President-elect Joe Biden called for an end to the “grim era of demonisation” and reached out to disappointed supporters of President Donald Trump, asking them to “give each other a chance” in a victory speech aimed unmistakably at unifying a bitterly divided country, saying it was “time to heal”.

The President-elect also said he will announce a team of Transition Advisers on Monday to make a blueprint out of his campaign’s Covid-19 plan that is ready for implementation from January 20, 2021, the day he is sworn in as president.

Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who notched up a bunch of firsts as the first black woman and Indian-descent American elected to the high office, introduced Biden in a speech in which she spoke feelingly of her late mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris as the “woman most responsible for my presence here today”.“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said in her speech Saturday night.

“…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,” she said.

Biden did not address Trump directly by name in his speech but did reach out to his supporters and voters. “To those who voted for President Trump, I understand your disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of elections myself,” he said, adding: “But now, 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.To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.” He returned to the theme of unity later in a clear sign of his priorities. “I ran as a proud Democrat. I will now be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me — as those who did. Let this grim era of demonisation in America begin to end — here and now.”

Biden, who is known for his ability to work across aisle, addressed himself to US Congress, which is a divided body. Democrats control the House of Representatives, although with a narrowed majority. Republicans control the Senate, but things could change because two seats will be settled in a January election. “The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control,” he said. “It’s a decision. It’s a choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate. And I believe that this is part of the mandate from the American people. They want us to cooperate.”

Biden and Harris spoke at a victory party in Wilmington, Delaware, amid honking of car horns — it was a drive-in rally — and much cheering. They were joined later by their spouses Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, and their families — including Biden’s son Hunter Biden, who was targeted by the Trump campaign — for the ceremonial photo-ops, which were followed by fireworks. Biden clinched the race after winning Pennsylvania, the tipping-point state that had kept the nation and the world on edge as it took five days to count its votes, mainly the record high volumes of mailed ballots. Biden has won 290 electoral college votes — needed 270 to win — to Trump’s 214. But these numbers will change as the remaining states wrap up their counting — Arizona, Alaska, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina. Biden won a record 74 million votes, which is the highest number of votes won by any American presidential nominee. Trump, with 70 million, is second. These numbers will also change as remaining votes from the record turnout of 160 million are counted.

Biden’s victory speech would have followed a concession speech or a call from the losing candidate, as is the practice. But President Trump has not only refused to concede the election but has accused the President-elect of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner”.

Wisconsin and Georgia were headed for recounts, but Trump’s lawsuits, and those filed by Republican allies have modest to no impact thus far. Undeterred, the campaign filed another one on Saturday in Arizona, hours after Biden was declared winner.

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