WASHINGTON - President-elect Joe Biden called for unity in his victory speech on Saturday (Nov 7) night, appealing to Americans, including those who did not vote for him, to come together and begin the process of healing.
"I pledge to be a President who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn't see red states or blue states, but only sees the United States," he said in a speech that focused heavily on themes of reconciliation and hope, delivered outside the Chase Centre in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, in his first remarks as president-elect.
Mr Biden said that Americans had given him a mandate to "marshal the forces" of decency and fairness and science to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control, secure healthcare for Americans, achieve racial justice and address climate change, among other missions.
Mr Biden was declared the winner on Saturday morning, after a hotly-contested and occasionally rancorous election that underscored America's deep divisions.
Addressing supporters of President Donald Trump, Mr Biden said he understood their disappointment and extended an olive branch, saying: "Let's give each other a chance. It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric."
"To make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies. They're not our enemies. They're Americans," he said.
"Let this grim era of demonisation in America begin to end, here and now," he added.
Mr Biden, who had served as Delaware's senator from 1973 to 2009 and built a reputation for bipartisan cooperation, urged lawmakers to reach across the aisle during his administration.
"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," he said.
Americans, he added, wanted them to cooperate. "I'll call on Congress to make that choice with me."
Acknowledging the tremendous tasks ahead of his administration, Mr Biden said that his work begins with getting Covid-19 under control in the United States, where the virus has claimed nearly 240,000 lives.
He announced that on Monday (Nov 9), he would name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help convert his campaign's plan to tackle the coronavirus into "an actual blueprint" that would start when he is sworn into office on January 20, 2021.
"I sought this office to restore the soul of America. To rebuild the backbone of the nation - the middle class. To make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home," he said, calling the work of realising this vision "the task of our time".
Mr Biden thanked the 75 million Americans and counting who had voted for him, calling the coalition that had delivered him the victory "the broadest and most diverse in history".
He highlighted African American voters, who "stood up again" for him when his campaign had been at its lowest. "They always have my back, and I'll have yours," he said.
Mr Biden, who has called the election a battle for the soul of America, said on Saturday night: "We must restore the soul of America."
"Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. It is time for our better angels to prevail," he said.
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