Biden pledges ‘not to divide but to unify’ as president

Biden pledges ‘not to divide but to unify’ as president


Published: 12:00 8 November 2020   Updated: 13:56 8 November 2020

Joe Biden delivering his first speech after winning the US presidential race

Joe Biden delivering his first speech after winning the US presidential race

President-elect Joe Biden delivered his first speech on Saturday after US voters chose the Democrat as its 46th president, vowing "not to divide but to unify" the country. 

It is "time to heal", mentioning this, he said at an event in Delaware addressing those who did not vote for him, "Let's give each other a chance".  

Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump following a cliff-hanger vote count after Tuesday's election. 

Trump has yet to concede and has not spoken publicly since his defeat was announced while he was playing golf.

The result makes Trump the first one-term president since the 1990s. His campaign has filed a barrage of lawsuits in various states but election officials say there is no evidence that the vote was rigged against him, as he has claimed.

Spontaneous celebrations erupted in major cities after media outlets announced Biden's victory on Saturday. Disappointed Trump supporters demonstrated in some cities but there were no reports of incidents.

Addressing cheering supporters in a parking lot in his hometown of Wilmington, Biden said: "I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify; who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States."

Biden has won more than 74 million votes so far, the most ever for a US presidential candidate. He hailed the "diverse" support that he gathered during the campaign, and thanked African-American voters in particular. 

But he also reached out to Trump supporters directly.

"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 in the election. "And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies." 

The president-elect, who arrived on stage wearing a face mask, announced that he would form his 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 Trump administration's response to the pandemic was at the centre of the presidential campaign, and drew heavy criticism from Biden, who said his plan would be "built on bedrock science". More than 237,000 US people have died, more than any other country. 

Biden will be 78 when he takes office, making him the oldest first-term president in American history.  

Biden was introduced by his running mate, Kamala Harris, who is about to become the first female vice-president in the country's history.

She will also be the first black and first Asian-American vice-president when she takes office, following a year that has seen nationwide protests on the issue of racial injustice.