President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday delivered his first televised remarks since he was declared winner in his race against President Donald Trump. Touching on themes of unity, hope, and healing, Biden said he has a mandate to reach across the aisle and “marshal the forces” of decency and science to tackle some of the country’s largest issues, including systemic racism, the pandemic, and climate change.
“Folks, the people of this nation have spoken. They’ve delivered us a clear victory. A convincing victory. A victory for we the people. We’ve won it with the most votes ever cast on a presidential ticket in the history of the nation: 74 million,” Biden began. “I’m humbled by the trust and confidence you placed in me. I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify. Who doesn’t see red states or blue states, but only the United States.”
The speech preempted football games and other programming across broadcast networks. ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS all aired it during primetime specials. CBS positioned it as the finale to a long election season with the special’s title, “America Has Decided,” featured prominently in the lower third.
Meantime, CNN spent hours Saturday drumming up expectations for the must-see TV event, including live shots of celebrations across the country and the drive-in rally arranged in Wilmington, Delaware for Biden’s speech.
In his speech, the former vice president returned to the idea that ran throughout his campaign: to restore the “soul of the nation” following the four years of the Trump administration.
“Let this grim era of demonization begin to end, here and now,” Biden said. “The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another, it’s not some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision, a choice we made. And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.”
He also singled out his African American supporters, whom he said “always have my back.” Political observers have said that Stacey Abrams and other Black organizers were crucial to Biden’s current lead in Georgia.
Harris introduced Biden and delivered a speech.
“Joe is a healer. A uniter. A tested and steady hand. A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us as a nation reclaim our own sense of purpose,” Harris said.
Harris’ election marks the first time a woman will serve as vice president. She will also be the first Black person and first person of South Asian descent to serve in that role. The vice-president elect discussed her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris.
“When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible. So I’m thinking about her and the generations of women, Black women, Latina, Native American women, who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight.”
After CNN, NBC News, Fox, and other networks called the race for Biden Saturday morning, people celebrated in cities across the country. Spike Lee was spotted celebrating with champagne in the street near his Fort Greene, Brooklyn office, while Lee and others shared their jubilation on social media.
Despite Biden’s status as president-elect, Trump has signaled he has no plans to concede. His campaign put out a statement earlier Saturday arguing “this election is far from over” and won’t be until Biden is certified as the winner. The campaign has promised to fight Biden’s victory with recounts and legal challenges.
The Trump campaign also held a press conference in Philadelphia where Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani made claims about Republican poll watchers who were allegedly not allowed to inspect some of the ballot-counting in Pennsylvania.