VIDEO: Biden promotes unity, turns to business of transition after U.S. election win

President-elect Joe Biden gestures to supporters Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)President-elect Joe Biden gestures to supporters Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President-elect Joe Biden stands on stage with his wife Jill Biden as he gives the thumbs-up to the cheering crowd beyond the protective glass, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)President-elect Joe Biden stands on stage with his wife Jill Biden as he gives the thumbs-up to the cheering crowd beyond the protective glass, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Joe Biden used his first national address as president-elect to vow to heal a deeply divided nation, declaring it was time to “let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end” and reaching out to the millions of people who voted against him to say, “Let’s give each other a chance.”

His calls for reconciliation at a Saturday evening victory celebration came even as President Donald Trump continued to argue that the election had been stolen from him, an indication that the divisive politics that have gripped the U.S. over the past four years are far from over.

It also suggested that even as Biden seeks to build out a government during his transition to the presidency, the president has little interest in helping him do so.

“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment,” Biden said during a drive-in event in Wilmington, Delaware. “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again.”

Biden heads into his first full day as president-elect on Sunday with key staffing decisions to make as the coronavirus rages. The always-frenzied 10-week transition period before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 already has been shortened by the extra time it took to determine the winner of Tuesday’s election.

The second Catholic to be elected president, Biden planned to attend church at St. Joseph on the Brandywine near his home in Wilmington, as he does nearly every week. He began Election Day with a visit to the church and the grave of his son, Beau, a former Delaware attorney general who died of brain cancer in 2015.

His top priority in the transition is expected to be quickly naming a chief of staff. Biden suggested during the campaign that his first call after being elected would be to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, but his advisers have not said whether the two have spoken yet.

Biden said Saturday that he would announce a task force of scientists and experts Monday to develop a “blueprint” to begin beating back the virus by the time he assumes the presidency. He said his plan would be “built on bedrock science” and “constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern.” A former surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, and a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, David Kessler, will lead the task force.

This coming week, Biden will launch his agency review teams — the group of transition staffers that have access to key agencies in the current administration to smooth the transfer of power. The teams will collect and review information such as budgetary and staffing decisions, pending regulations and other work in progress from current staff at the departments to help Biden’s team prepare to transition.

Biden was on track to win the national popular vote by more than 4 million, a margin that could grow as ballots continue to be counted. He made Trump the first incumbent president to be denied a second term since Republican George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992.

His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, used her first address as vice-president-elect to showcase her history-making place as the first Black woman to become vice-president, an achievement that comes as the U.S. faces a reckoning on racial justice. The California senator is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said in her speech Saturday night.

To win, Biden successfully unified different wings of the Democratic Party around their universal loathing of Trump, garnering support from progressive insurgents and establishment moderates alike.

“The party came together to defeat Donald Trump,” said Brian Lemek, a longtime progressive fundraiser and executive director of Brady PAC, which invested $6 million on 2020 candidates supporting gun violence prevention efforts and voting rights. “His main job right now, we all think, is to heal the nation.”

Biden senior adviser Ted Kaufman said the transition team will focus on the “nuts and bolts” of building the new administration in coming days. He said Biden plans to speak to legislative leaders and governors from both parties.

Biden may not make top Cabinet choices for weeks. But he built his presidential run around bipartisanship and he has spent the days since Tuesday’s election pledging to be a president for all Americans. That suggests he could be willing to appoint some Republicans to high-profile administration positions.

READ MORE: Democrat Joe Biden to be the 46th president of the United States in historic election

Many former Republican officeholders broke with Trump to endorse Biden’s campaign. His selection of some of them to join the new government could appease Senate Republicans, who may have to confirm many of Biden’s choices for top jobs. The GOP could retain control of the chamber after two special elections in Georgia on Jan. 5.

Still, too much across-the-aisle co-operation could draw the ire of progressives. Some already worry that unco-operative Senate Republicans could force Biden to scale back his ambitious campaign promises to expand access to health care and lead a post-pandemic economic recovery that relies on federal investment in green technology and jobs to help combat climate change.

“I think there will be a huge misuse of the word ‘unity’ to imply that we need to water down the ideas that Joe Biden just campaigned on,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. He said the country was more united around bold solutions to big problems than small-scale efforts.

Biden’s efforts at bipartisan reconciliation, meanwhile, could still be derailed by Trump’s refusing to concede the presidential race. It wasn’t clear if Biden and Trump would meet in coming days, as is the modern tradition. Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told CNN late Saturday that there’s been no contact between Trump’s team and Biden’s.

Symone Sanders, a Biden campaign spokeswoman, said “Donald Trump does not get to decide the winner of elections.”

“The people decide, voters in the country decide,” Sanders said. “And voters have made their choice very clear.”

Trump started his Sunday morning by retweeting support from a prominent legal expert calling for review of the balloting.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Trump had a right to pursue recounts and legal challenges. But he noted that those efforts will unlikely change the outcome and he urged the president to dial back his rhetoric.

“I think one has to be careful in the choice of words. I think when you say the election was corrupt or stolen or rigged that that’s unfortunately rhetoric that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world. And I think it also discourages confidence in our democratic process here at home,” Romney told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

___

Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe in Wilmington, Delaware, Steve Peoples in New York and Aamer Madhani in Chicago contributed to this report.

Will Weissert, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Joe BidenUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

News Bulletin file photo
Wrong set of golf clubs given away outside Nanaimo thrift store

Family spreading word about mistake in hopes clubs might be returned to them

The Regional District of Nanaimo faces challenges with garbage bin replacement requests. (Michael Briones photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo faces challenges to meet requests for garbage bin replacements

Waste manager says RDN will have a surplus of 100-litre carts

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a hit-and-run incident outside the 7-Eleven store at University Village Mall Feb. 3. (Photo submitted)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP speak to people of interest in hit-and-run investigation

Police continuing to investigate Feb. 3 incident in Harewood

(News Bulletin file)
Wellington, Ladysmith secondary schools latest with COVID-19 cases

NDSS and Bayview Elementary also experienced exposures, says SD68

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo motion seeks to ask province for help to combat illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, endangered orcas from the J pod swim in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen from a federal research vessel that has been tracking the whales. A new study from federal researchers provides the most detailed look yet at what the Pacific Northwest's endangered orcas eat. Scientists with the NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center spent years collecting fecal samples from the whales as well as scales from the fish they devoured. They say their data reaffirm the central importance of Chinook salmon to the whales. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Study reinforces importance of Chinook to Pacific Northwest orcas

Data confirms how central the big salmon are to the orca’s diet year-round

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Most Read