Biden declares a ‘mandate for action’ while urging patience with vote counting

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Joe Biden said late Friday that he was set to win the presidency based on the election results so far, declaring that the American people had given him and his Democratic running mate, Kamala Harris, a “mandate for action” on the most pressing issues the country faces.

Speaking in Wilmington, Del., as he stood only one state away from the required 270 electoral votes to win, Biden said he was all but certain to win and was already getting to work on issues ranging from climate change to the coronavirus. It was his first public address since overtaking President Donald Trump’s lead in the key states of Georgia and Pennsylvania on Friday morning.

Still, Biden emphasized the importance of waiting for the final tallies and urged confidence in the electoral system — a sharp contrast to claims of mass fraud from Trump.

In a sign that his mind is already focused on a presidential transition, Biden emphasized the need to get the coronavirus pandemic under control and made an allusion to his economic recovery plan. He mentioned that he and Harris had already met with health policy and economic experts to find the best course to solve the myriad issues facing his would-be administration.

“While we’re waiting for the final results, I want people to know we’re not waiting to get the work done,” Biden said.

But instead of criticizing the Trump administration for its pandemic response, Biden tried to bridge the partisan divide. Most Americans hope to remove the vitriol that has defined the political discourse of the Trump era, he said, and he repeated a common line throughout his campaign that he would be a president for all Americans.

“We may be opponents, but we’re not enemies,” the former vice president said. “We’re Americans.”

Biden also pushed back on the president’s efforts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election. As Biden appears to gain more ground in critical swing states, Trump has amplified unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud — even though election officials in numerous states have refuted such a phenomenon.

Fears of uncounted votes have swirled throughout the lead-up to the election as an unprecedented number of voters mailed in their ballots because of the pandemic. On Friday, Biden assured voters that their voices would be heard and urged them to have faith in the system.

“Let the process work out as we count all the votes,” Biden said. “Democracy works. Your vote will be counted. I don’t care how hard people try to stop it. I will not let it happen.”

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