Democrat Joe Biden projected confidence Friday that he would win the US presidential election, citing his lead in votes in key states like Pennsylvania.
A winner has yet to be declared in the race between Biden and US President Donald Trump because neither candidate has reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed to carry the White House.
“We don’t have a final declaration of victory yet, but the numbers tell a clear and convincing story: We are going to win this race,” Biden said during a televised speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden noted he has already won the most votes in history for any presidential candidate.
He said a record number of Americans “chose change over more of the same.”
He told the nation that the political parties may be opponents, but they are not enemies.
“Let’s put the anger and the demonization behind us,” he said.
Biden also said he was already preparing to assume the presidency even though he has not been declared the winner in his race.
“I want people to know we’re not waiting to get the work done,” he said.
Biden said he and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have held briefings on the coronavirus and the economy this week as the US records record daily cases.
He noted nearly 240,000 people have died from the pandemic and said he wants those families to know they aren’t alone.
He also addressed the millions of Americans who remain out of work and are struggling to pay rent or buy food.
“We don’t have any more time to waste on partisan warfare,” he said, also pledging to unite a bitterly divided nation.
“It’s time for us to come together as a nation to heal,” Biden said.
Biden’s remarks came as he widened his lead over Trump in critical battleground states as the exacting work of counting votes continued.
High turnout, a massive number of mail-in ballots and slim margins between the two candidates all contributed to the delay in naming a winner. But Biden held leads in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, putting him in an ever-stronger position to capture the 270 Electoral College votes needed to take the White House.
There was intense focus on Pennsylvania, where Biden led Trump by more than 27,000 votes, and Nevada, where the Democrat led by about 22,000. The prolonged wait added to the anxiety of a nation facing historic challenges, including the surging pandemic and deep political polarization.
Trump stayed in the White House and out of sight, as more results trickled in and expanded Biden’s lead in must-win Pennsylvania. In the West Wing during the day, televisions remained tuned to the news amid trappings of normalcy, as reporters lined up for coronavirus tests and outdoor crews worked on the North Lawn on a mild, muggy fall day.
Trump’s campaign on Friday was mostly quiet — a dramatic difference from the day before, when officials held a morning call projecting confidence and then a flurry of press conferences announcing litigation in key states. But it was touched once again by the coronavirus pandemic.
A handful of states remained in play Friday evening — Georgia, North Carolina too early to call along with Pennsylvania and Nevada. In all four states the margins between Trump and Biden were too narrow and the number of ballots left to be counted too great for the AP to declare a victor.
In Pennsylvania, officials were not allowed to begin processing mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. In Nevada, there were a number of provisional ballots cast by voters who registered on Election Day, and officials had to verify their eligibility. And recounts could be triggered in both Pennsylvania and Georgia.
With his pathway to reelection appearing to greatly narrow, Trump was testing how far he could go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in the vote.
On Thursday, he advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power. It was an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process.
“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.
He took to Twitter late Friday to pledge further legal action, tweeting that “Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!”
Trump did claim that he won late on Election Night. He also tweeted that he had “such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear as the days went by,” although it was well known that votes cast before Tuesday were still being legally counted.
Trump’s erroneous claims about the integrity of the election challenged Republicans now faced with the choice of whether to break with a president who, though his grip on his office grew tenuous, commanded sky-high approval ratings from rank-and-file members of the GOP. That was especially true for those who are eyeing presidential runs of their own in 2024.
Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan, a potential presidential hopeful who has often criticized Trump, said unequivocally: “There is no defense for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process. America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before.”
But others who are rumored to be considering a White House run of their own in four years aligned themselves with the incumbent, including Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who tweeted support for Trump’s claims, writing that “If last 24 hours have made anything clear, it’s that we need new election integrity laws NOW.”
Trump’s campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity, saying it would seek a recount in Wisconsin and had filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.
On Friday evening, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito approved a GOP request ordering county boards to comply with state guidance to keep the late ballots separate from those received before or on Election Day. However, Alito did not direct election officials to stop counting the ballots, as the Republicans had also sought.
But judges in three states quickly swatted down legal action. A federal judge who was asked to stop vote counts in Philadelphia instead forced the two sides to reach an agreement without an order over the number of observers allowed.
“Really, can’t we be responsible adults here and reach an agreement?” an exasperated US District Judge Paul S. Diamond said during an emergency hearing Thursday evening. “The whole thing could (soon) be moot.”
The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous area. The AP has declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday that it was monitoring the vote count as it proceeded.
“The Associated Press continues to watch and analyze vote count results from Arizona as they come in,” said Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor. “We will follow the facts in all cases.”
Header: Diane Spiteri clutches her absentee ballot before dropping it off at the city clerk’s office in Warren, Mich., Wed, Oct. 28, 2020. “I just can’t wait until the whole thing is over. And I think it’s long from over, even after Tuesday. There’s just so much anxiety,” said Spiteri, who cast her ballot last week for Biden. As the traditional Election Day closes in, Americans are exhausted from constant crises, on edge because of volatile political divisions and anxious about what will happen next. (AP Photo/David Goldman)