U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spoke at an outdoor victory celebration in Wilmington, Delaware Saturday night.
A few hours earlier, the two were declared winners of Tuesday’s election against President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Biden told supporters at the gathering that, he will be a president who “seeks not to divide, but to unify the country.”
“This is the time to heal America,” Biden said to the cheering crowd. “It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again.”
Biden reached out to Trump supporters, saying, “I understand your disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple of times myself, but now let's give each other a chance.”
Harris introduced Biden after giving thanks and praise to poll workers and election officials.
“Our nation owes you a debt of gratitude as you have protected the integrity of our democracy,” she said.
Harris also thanked American women of today and yesterday. “Women,” she said, “who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all.”
The Biden-Harris victory came after more than three days of a close vote count. A large number of mail-in votes delayed the processing of some ballots. With 270 Electoral College votes needed to win, Biden reached 273 when he won the northeastern state of Pennsylvania.
Reactions to the news
As the news of his victory reached the nation’s capital of Washington, DC, people gathered outside the White House waving signs and taking pictures. Others came out shouting and banging pots. The sound of the Queen song, “We are the Champions,” could be heard floating through the air.
Across the country, people celebrated in New York’s Times Square, danced in the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and set off fireworks in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lola Faleit of New York City told the Associated Press, “I feel less worried for my immigrant friends. In 2016, we woke up crying. Today we are celebrating. Look, the sky is clear blue, the sun is out, Mother Nature is celebrating, too.”
“This election is far from over”
President Trump was at his golf course in Virginia when news of Biden’s win broke.
The Trump campaign said, “This election is far from over.” It released a statement saying it would begin to argue in court Monday “to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.”
Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted his support for the Trump campaign, writing that the media does not get to decide who wins. “The people do,” he continued. “When all lawful votes have been counted, recounts finished, and allegations of fraud addressed, we will know who the winner is.”
Sen. Mitt Romney was the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. On Twitter, he wrote “congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.” Romney added, “We know both of them as people of good will.”
Former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton also sent congratulations to Biden and Harris.
World leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they look forward to working with the new administration.
Race for the White House
From the start of his third campaign for president, Biden centered his effort on winning Pennsylvania and the midwestern states of Michigan and Wisconsin.
Biden argued that his popularity among working-class voters would return the three states, known as the “Blue Wall,” to the Democratic Party. In 2016, Republican Donald Trump won the three states and the presidency over Hillary Clinton.
Biden visited his birth state of Pennsylvania on Election Day. He wrote on the wall of his boyhood home in Scranton, “From this house to the White House….” Four days later, Pennsylvania provided the electoral votes that Biden needed to win the presidency.
A record number of Americans voted this year through mail-in ballots and stood in long lines at voting places. With vote-counting continuing in some states, Biden has already received more votes than any presidential candidate in U.S. history, with his name marked on 74 million ballots. Trump received about 70 million, the second-highest number recorded for any candidate.
Biden has been in national politics for many years. He first served as a senator from Delaware and then two terms as Obama’s vice president.
In 1972, just weeks after his election to the Senate, Biden’s wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident. He was left a single father of two sons and briefly considered leaving his Senate seat. But he decided to stay in office. As senator, Biden traveled daily to and from Washington on the train, so he could be home in Delaware with his sons every night.
Biden turns 78 years old on November 20. Eight weeks later, on January 20, 2021, Biden will become the oldest person to take office as president.
Kamala Harris has also made history as the first woman, first Black person and first person of South Asian descent to become vice president.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English with additional reporting from the Associated Press and Reuters. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
harsh - adj. very critical, strongly negative
rhetoric - n. the language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest
disappointment - n. state of unhappiness when something is not as expected
bang - v. to hit something in a way to make a loud noise
pot - n. a round container used for cooking
allegation - n. a statement saying that someone has done something wrong or illegal
fraud - n. a crime of using dishonest methods
address - v. to deal with an issue