Emotional Joe Biden leaves Delaware to head for Washington on inauguration eve

US President-elect Joe Biden wiping away a tear as he speaks at New Castle Airport on Jan 19, 2021 in Delaware.
US President-elect Joe Biden wiping away a tear as he speaks at New Castle Airport on Jan 19, 2021 in Delaware.PHOTO: AFP

NEW CASTLE, UNITED STATES (AFP) - Wiping away tears, US President-elect Joe Biden bid an emotional farewell to his home state of Delaware on Tuesday (Jan 19) before heading to Washington on the eve of his inauguration.

"It's deeply personal that our journey to Washington starts here," Mr Biden said after rubbing one of his eyes while addressing dozens of guests at a National Guard base named in honour of his late son Beau.

"I only have one regret, that he's not here," he  said, referring to Beau, who died of cancer in 2015.

"Because we should be introducing him as president."

Mr Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States at noon on Wednesday, replacing Republican Donald Trump, whose chaotic four-year presidency left an American public bitterly divided.

The 78-year-old Democrat also addressed his own mortality - an unusual direction, given he is about to take the helm of the most powerful nation in the world.

"Excuse the emotion," he said, pausing on his words as he composed himself.

"But when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart."

Mr Biden mentioned the history-making nature of the election, and how Ms Kamala Harris, a black woman of South Asian descent, will be inaugurated as vice-president 12 years after he took office as vice-president to Mr Barack Obama, the nation's first black president.

"Don't tell me things can't change. They can, and they do," Mr Biden said.

"That's America. That's Delaware."