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Joe Biden urges national unity after claiming mantle of president-elect

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Posted: Sunday, November 8, 2020. 2:04 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The BBC reports that overnight, president-elect Joe Biden has told the United States that it is “time to heal” and vowing “ not to divide but to unify” the country, asking: “Let’s give each other a chance.”

Biden, 77, has claimed victory over incumbent President Donald Trump after the states of Pennsylvania and Nevada were called by American television networks on Saturday. The Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes went in his column after he amassed an unassailable 30 thousand-vote lead with nearly all ballots counted.

Biden continues to lead in two other states yet to declare their results – Arizona and Georgia – but while Trump leads in North Carolina and Alaska, there is no mathematical path to victory for him unless the count is overturned in other previously called states.

Yet, Trump has not conceded and continues to mount legal challenges to the vote in several states. But election officials say there is no evidence that the vote was rigged against him, as he has said.

Addressing cheering supporters in a car park in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware the former vice-president and Senator reached out to Trump supporters directly while also thanking his own.

“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” Biden said, without mentioning his rival. “And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”

Biden announced plans to form a coronavirus response committee to ensure it is ready to implement decisions from his inauguration day in January, because “that’s the only way we can get back to living”. The U.S. has reported more than 237 thousand deaths, the most of any country, and has recently reported rising cases nationwide.

Running mate Kamala Harris, who makes many firsts as the first woman, black and Asian-American vice-president, insisted she would not be the last in the role.

Reflecting on the election campaign, she told supporters: “When our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, the very soul of America at stake and with the whole world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.”

She added: “You chose hope and unity, decency, science and yes, truth – you chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. And the road ahead will not be easy, but America is ready, and so are Joe and I.”

Trump meanwhile has not spoken in public since the numbers were announced, but he has been regularly tweeting claims of voter fraud which have been flagged by Twitter. He does not plan to concede at present and insists the election is “far from over.”

Georgia is headed to a recount and one has been requested in Wisconsin, while the legal team prepares to take up the case as far as the Supreme Court if no relief is granted by the states.

On Saturday, the BBC says, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit over ballots cast on election day in Arizona that it claims were incorrectly rejected. Arizona’s secretary of state, however, said in a statement that the case was “grasping at straws”.

The Electoral College – groups of electors from each state who cast the decisive ballots – meets on December 14 and the new president will be sworn in on January 20 after Congress formally certifies the results.

This is Biden’s third run for the highest office; he will be 78 years old on Inauguration Day, making him the oldest first-term president in American history.

Biden is Irish Catholic and spent today, Sunday, in church.

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