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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
President-Elect Joe Biden And Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris Deliver Victory Speeches In Wilmington, Delaware. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 7, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well, there's also the competing in sentence that each side can have, which is, well, it actually -- yes, it may be good for the country to compromise but it's not good for our party to compromise. Because if we are obstructionists, and, again, this is for Republican and Democrats, we are obstructionists in one way than four years from now, things will -- or two years from now, you know, that --
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, compromise is easy on little things. It's really hard on big things. And so, I mean, Obama got little things done and Donald Trump got some little things done.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Obamacare was not little.
SANTORUM: No, no, no, to compromise. There's no compromise in Obamacare. He got Obamacare then because he had 60 senators. So -- but you go back, really, the last time you saw, I would say, a big compromise was the Medicare part, the expansion that George Bush put through. And he got down with Teddy Kennedy. And I can tell you, a lot of folks on the Republican side didn't vote for it in the United States senate. A lot of folks and Democrats didn't vote for it, but enough together did.
And so can you do big things? You can but it takes a lot of skill to do it.
COOPER: Let's go back to Jake in (INAUDIBLE). Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We are expecting the remarks at any moment. Obviously, Kamala Harris, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be introducing the President-elect Joe Biden. This is a -- you know, we eat and live and breathe this stuff. There are a lot of Americans that this will be the first time they ever hear Kamala Harris speak.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's true.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And she is something of a fresh face on the national stage but someone who Democrats have had an eye on for a long time. Kamala Harris is someone who is, in her own right, very accomplished. She was the attorney general of the largest state in the union and is known to be a prosecutor and a tough attorney.
But today, I've been talking to people who are very close to her and so many people are actually talking to me about Kamala Harris's mother, Shyamala, who died of cancer years ago and is not here tonight to watch her daughter give this speech and to become the vice president-elect of the United States.
But the idea that I think Kamala Harris is someone who we call a person -- a woman of color, a black woman, an Indian-American woman, she is the daughter of a single mother and a civil rights activist and a scientist.
And so there's so much groundbreaking in her family story that I know based on the people who I've been talking to, it's top -- it's going to be top of mind for her. Because she really represents for a lot of black women in this country, a lot of black women who have worked for her, who have fought for her to be elected to all of these offices, that each successive time has broken barriers. Those women, I think, see in her both the fight and the promise, the fight and the hope. She's done it now. And I think it makes an enormous difference from them and I'm hearing from them.
And people are extremely emotional about it. I think black women feel like they've poured everything into the political system and it hasn't always given back to them. And tonight, I think, is a moment of celebration for a lot of black women across the country.
BASH: That's so well said. You said fight the last question I asked Senator Harris when we were walking through her alma mater here in Washington, Howard University, was what would your mother think of what you're doing right now. And she -- without missing a beat, she said, you better beat them. Nothing emotional, no hard strings were pulled, it was the fight.
And that, I thought, was so telling about the way she was brought up, about the fact that, clearly, her mother, as a single mother, as you said, as a scientist. I mean, her mother was incredibly accomplished in her own right came to this country in order to work as a scientist and get an education in that field. And, obviously, she taught both of her daughters that that is what she should pursue.
And, you know, the fact that she also has said -- not to me but separately -- that her mother -- she didn't think her mother would necessarily be surprised by what's going on right now.
BASH: That was before she actually was the vice president-elect. But it kind of just shows the confidence that was instilled in her by a very strong woman.
TAPPER: Her father is still alive. He's from Jamaica. Her mom has passed. She was from India originally and I know the vice president- elect, Harris, in addition to being a source of tremendous pride for the black community, is also a source of tremendous pride for the Indian-American in East Asian and Indian community. I'm sure in back in India, they're celebrating as well. What an exciting thing to see the election of one of their own, so to speak, in the United States.
It's also, I think, for a lot of people from Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden was born and where he grew up until his father lost his job and they moved from Scranton when he was ten years old.
This is also a moment. And, you know, we saw a lot of Joe Biden on the stage during the campaign talking about -- I don't know -- perhaps it was apocryphal, but some journalist -- unnamed journalist saying, you know, you'd be the first president who didn't go to an ivy league school, which is, first of all, not true. Plenty of presidents didn't go to Ivy League schools.
But it was a way for President-elect Biden to convey to the crowd, whether the story's true or not, that he did not go to an Ivy League school, that he was one of them, that he went to -- I believe he went to the University of Delaware and then I think he went to --
BASH: Syracuse Law School.
TAPPER: Syracuse Law School. And, you know, Donald Trump, because he likes to tell us, liked to remind us, went to Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania and Barack Obama, President Obama went to Columbia University and then Harvard Law. And there's a lot of that.
There's the motorcade. It is arriving in Wilmington, Delaware, lots of celebrants. But for, you know, a certain segment of the country, if you want to call them small town folks or middle class folks, or state school attendees, or whatever, this is also a moment of pride. I mean, I know the Democrats get tagged as the party of elitists. And there are reasons for that, but that's not really where Joe Biden is from. Whether or not he was one today is another matter but definitely is -- was not to the manner born. He is somebody who worked his way to where he is.
PHILLIP: I have been thinking about -- Arlette was talking a lot about this. The perseverance of Joe Biden and every president, to some extent, getting to the presidency is a story of perseverance against really tremendous odds. It's not easy to do this. But for Joe Biden --
TAPPER: Well, except for George W. Bush (ph). Anyway, keep going.
PHILLIP: Except for almost everybody.
TAPPER: Except for John Quincy Adams.
PHILLIP: I do think that this is such a constant theme for Joe Biden that, you know, 47 years ago today, he reached what would have been the highest heights of his life at that time, and it was followed immediately by intense tragedy. And he's seen so much tragedy time and time again.
And I think probably you'll hear this from him tonight, talking about the fact that, at the end of all of that tragedy, there is still hope. He is in the latter part of his life and he is finally getting to a place where he perhaps wanted to be about 30 years ago.
TAPPER: So, the motorcade is pulling in, we're told. Let's check back in with Arlette Saenz who covers the Biden campaign for us. I guess we should start saying the Biden transition team for us. Arlette Saenz, who is in Wilmington Delaware.
Arlette, I just saw former Delaware Governor Jack Markel behind a mask. That's how big a political nerd I am. Are you seeing other individuals in the crowd?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, this is really a hometown crowd who has come out to see Joe Biden deliver his first remarks as president-elect. A little while ago, I spoke to Congressman Lisa Blunt Rochester, who was one of his earliest supporters from day one. And she was really overwhelmed with this moment that they are facing today. You are seeing people of all ages here coming out to support the former vice president. Not just right here on site but also those hundreds of people that are gathered outside.
And, you know, one thing I also want to note is talking a little bit about the campaign staffers on this campaign. Back in March, during the coronavirus, the campaign shuttered their operations in Philadelphia, which gathered hundreds of campaign staffers back to their homes across the country. So, oftentimes, these victory events is that moment of celebrations where these staffers who have poured their hearts out into this campaigns are able to come and celebrate. But for many of them, they are not able to be here tonight, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
You do have a small team of advisers and advance staff who are running the show here in Wilmington. But there are many, many staffers who are celebrating across the country for all of their hard work. And one of those groups even had a virtual dance party in the middle of the afternoon to celebrate Joe Biden's victory.
But in just a short while we're going to hear from the now President- elect Joe Biden. This is a moment that has been decades in the making for him and his family, and, really, this is such a personal moment for the entire Biden family after all of these losses that they have endured. And Joe Biden has been knocked down many, many times but has continued to persevere as he has tried to get to this highest office.
And over the course of the campaign, Biden has stuck to that message of this being a battle for the soul of the nation and that he is the person to unite it. You know, I was fielding text messages from aides and advisers throughout the day, and they said this was Joe Biden's moment. He is the perfect person to take on these challenges that are currently facing the country, including trying to bring together what is a very, very divided nation. And we're going to hear a bit from him later tonight on how he hopes to achieve that in the coming months and years.
And I talked about this a little bit before, but Joe Biden's also been part of two history-making tickets. You know, he served alongside Barack Obama, the first black man to become president. Joe Biden often talks about how, right before the inauguration, President Obama came down on the train from Philadelphia and picked him up right here in Wilmington to take him with him to the White House. And now, Joe Biden is going to be taking the first woman, the first woman of color with him to the White House.
This is a moment that is not lost on Joe Biden. He has talked about how he wants to be a bridge to the generation, and that is something that you've seen in his choice of a vice president, but also as he has tried to reach out and trying to bring together people of all stripes within the Democratic Party and in the country.
You know, Joe Biden came -- overcame many contentious battles during that Democratic primary. He brought his party together heading into the general election. And now, he is faced with that task of uniting the country, something that those around him really believe that he is primed for.
TAPPER: Well, it's a tall order but it's certainly one that he's been talking about for quite a long time, Arlette.
Let's go to our other reporter covering the Biden-Harris campaign, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, a historic night, really, I think it's fair to say, the beginning of the Biden presidency starts tonight.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No question, Jake. And watching the motorcade just go by, this was the third time this motorcade has traveled this route since Wednesday. He came here in the early morning hours of Wednesday morning, has been watching. He knows -- he knew -- was fairly confident this was coming but has not taken the ride he took tonight or the speech he will give tonight.
I'm so struck, by just remembering 12 years ago the turmoil that he and then Barack Obama inherited in a country in an economic sense. It is certainly in a coronavirus sense. And he knows the difficulties he is facing. So this is the last night (ph) of celebration for Joe Biden. The hard work has already begun. The challenges have already begun. Even if the nation was not divided, even if the nation was not questioning presidential election, which many are, millions of Americans are, probably tens of millions of Americans are, there are still challenges. So that is his burden tonight.
But I am told that he is going to give space to President Trump. He is going to give space for Republicans to come along and accept his victory. So that is the Joe Biden that we know from his years in the Senate. Even as vice president, he worked across the aisle. We'll see if that still works in today's divided America and divided Washington. But that is what his hope. So that is what we're going to hear tonight, saying that we are Americans. He will be talking to those who didn't vote for him as well as those who did, Jake.
TAPPER: And while we wait for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to speak, and we anticipate that Joe Biden will talk about the need to heal the country, it is worth noting that there is a good chunk of the Republican Party, the leaders of the Republican Party, not individual Republican voters, but the leaders of the Republican Party who seemed quite determined to not let this happen. We see governors -- Republican governors giving credence to just these completely mendacious, these false allegations about voter fraud, just non-existent. We see members of Congress putting forward all sorts of lies about the election.
This really was a remarkably smooth and efficient election. It took a little longer than people wanted. But, I mean, I just wonder about the potential for any sort of healing or reconciliation when you have the leaders of the Republican Party, many of them, not all of them, many of them determined not only to refuse any handshake, any offering of a hand, not just refusing, but lying and smearing about what happened, for whatever reason, because they want to run for president in 2024 or because -- I mean, who knows what the reason is.
It doesn't even matter.
BASH: There is a reason why the protocol in our time since George Washington, really, has been to see the stage and do it in a very public way. And the reason is to encourage that person's supporters to -- you know, to say it's okay. It's okay. We're going to be ok because we are still Americans.
And certainly not in our lifetimes, we have never seen that not happen, and we don't expect this to happen anytime soon, certainly until -- at least until the president is -- goes through the process that we've been talking about for five days and his aides talked to us about.
That process is -- a part of the process is, you know, being convinced that these lawsuits that his lawyers are trying to fight in places like Pennsylvania have been, you know, exhausted, to no avail, likely.
Then the next part of the process is electors have -- the results have to be certified by all 50 states and territories. And then so the process goes along. That is part of the Constitution electors are chosen, so on and so forth.
At some point in that process, the president has got to realize assuming that it goes smoothly. There's no reason to think it won't. The president has got to realize the jig is up.
And it is still an open question, to your point, Jake, whether or not that realization is accompanied with communicating that to his people. And it is so important. And in the absence of that, what Joe Biden is going to do tonight is reach out himself.
PHILLIP: I don't think it will be accompanied by communicating back to his people, unfortunately.
TAPPER: I agree.
BASH: At any point. PHILLIP: Yes, really, at any point. I think his supporters and the president himself has signaled that that is not in the cards for him. And it doesn't matter because the people have spoken. But this idea that Republicans have convinced themselves that it is necessary or appropriate to have to give such an extensive off ramp to a sitting president is not in the practice of this country. It is just not.
And many presidents have perhaps, I imagine, maybe thought that they could just push back until the very last moment and they have chosen not to. They've chosen not to because holding on to power for the sake of power is exactly the kind of thing that our founders tried to protect against.
PHILLIP: And I think every president up until this moment has recognized that and has ceded the stage when it was necessary.
Again, it is -- he may not do it. It probably will not matter. But I think we should just recognize that there is a new standard that is being set by this president and endorsed by Republicans in Washington, and it should not be that way. It has not been that way.
TAPPER: He's not a seven-year-old kid who lost an ice skating competition and we all need to understand that feelings have been hurt and, you know, that there's some maturation that we shouldn't expect. He is a 74-year-old president of the United States and he lost re- election. And you know what? That's okay. That happens. It happened to George H.W. Bush, it happened to Jimmy Carter. It's happened to nine other or eight other previous presidents and he's the 11th to not be reelected.
His emotional needs, frankly, are irrelevant. And I don't think that we should -- I mean, I think we should note it because it's historical, but I don't think we need to bend over backwards and pretend that the country moving on and MAGA nation moving on depends upon what Joe Biden does. Like Joe Biden is going to do what he can. And if a chunk of the leaders of the Republican Party want to drag the nation down with them, that's up to them.
TAPPER: But he's going to be governing and they can either join him or get out of the way.
BASH: Well, one of the reasons -- one of the big reasons we are looking at the pictures we're looking at and we're preparing for a speech from President-elect Joe Biden and not a speech from President Trump talking about his second term is because of the characteristics that you were both talking.
BASH: It is because he came in with a lot of promise that he was a norm-buster and somebody who is going to do things differently and drain the swamp and all of the bumper sticker alliance that he had, and that's not how he governed, and he didn't reach out. And he didn't -- there was no sign of the art of the deal except for a few -- except there were a few exceptions. But for the most part it was about him and it was about his wants and his needs and not so much about the country.
And the reason we saw so much fervor and enthusiasm in this election was to get rid of that and to return to the notion of maybe not -- maybe not every institution is great and there certainly need to be changes and updates, but to return to the basic tenets of what this democracy and what people expect the presidency to be about.
TAPPER: One of the things -- to turn it to a friendlier subject -- one of the things that I think the American people who have not been paying super close attention to this race or to Joe Biden's career over the past -- I don't even know how long it's been, 47 years, might not realize he's an okay speaker. He's a fine speaker. He's not Barack Obama. And -- but one of the things that he missed a lot during this race because of the pandemic was he is, as he calls himself, a tactile politician. He likes to get in there and talk to people.
Now, sometimes he loses his temper a little bit on rope lines if somebody says something to him he doesn't like, he can -- you know, but there haven't been a lot of moments like that because there hasn't been a lot of campaigning like that.
His best moments, and we've seen some of these in viral videos on social media, his best moments are when he meets somebody who has an emotional need of some sort, a boy that we heard from --
BASH: Like the CNN Town Hall with Anderson when he talked --
TAPPER: Right, the little boy who had the stutter --
TAPPER: -- who spoke at the Democratic convention. We said there was a virtual video not long ago of the surviving family members of the coach that was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And one of the little boy, the son of the coach who had been killed, has suffered some disability and just -- he's so good in that setting. And he hasn't -- the American people haven't really seen it because he's been denied that kind of campaigning.
I don't know how good a speech he'll give tonight. I assume it will be perfectly lovely but his real strength as a politician is in the one- on-one in the personal relationships.
PHILLIP: That's absolutely right. And, I mean, I think that there's the realty of the new world that we're living in is that some things we're not going to see for a while, and I think especially for Joe Biden and their campaign that they've been so -- trying to be very diligent about the precautions that they take around the coronavirus.
But I do think the other thing about Joe Biden is that he is, in a lot of ways, a student of history. And I think he appreciates the importance of history. And I imagine that we will hear a little bit of that today as Biden tries to reach back into the foundations of the country that we were just discussing to help guide the nation forward. That is what a lot of presidents do, frankly, to get Americans through these tough moments --
PHILLIP: -- of tension and of friction.
And in the absence of Joe Biden being able to physically be around a lot of people and show that kind of humanity, I think he's going to find other ways to do it. And I think he will tonight trying to reach to our shared history to bring the country together.
TAPPER: Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., Born in Scranton almost 78 years ago, elected to the United States Senate from Delaware in 1972, and then has experienced of great deal of tragedy in his life. He lost his wife and daughter in a car crash just after getting elected to the Senate in 1972. He lost his son, Beau, to brain cancer a few years ago.
Beau, who lot of people thought, was the better version of his father, Joe Biden 2.0, Barack Obama, President Barack Obama once joked, a man who was run for president twice before. It has been a long journey for Joe Biden, President-elect Joe Biden from Scranton, almost 78 years ago, to this moment right now where he is about to speak to the country for the first time as president-elect of the United States of America.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You know, Jake, we're all about to witness history. The president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Kamala Harris, about to deliver victory speeches, truly important and historic speeches. We're told the message tonight will be one of unity as Biden prepares to lead a very polarized nation in the middle of a deadly pandemic. And the vice president-elect will give her first address as the vice president- elect of the United States as she becomes the first woman, the first black and South Asian person to serve in that position.
John King, you and I have covered them for quite a while. We know them. They have been waiting a long time, especially Biden, for this moment.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And this is a night of celebration, Wolf, and the hard work will begin very quickly. 74 days, he'll be inaugurated in the middle of the pandemic, President Trump will be in charge of the country and that pandemic for those 74 days, record-breaking case counts this entire week here. And so it's a fascinating moment. You want to celebrate. You also want to get the country ready for this transition. And I'm fascinated to hear from Senator Harris, because you know you and I covered the Clinton White House. Bill Clinton picked Al Gore at a time he wanted to send the message southern, moderate, same different kind of Democrat. Donald Trump picked Mike Pence at a time there was a conservative revolt in the Republican Party, the never- Trumpers. Donald Trump wanted to secure the conservative base and he did.
Joe Biden picked Senator Harris to make history with a woman to address the role of woman, to embrace the role of women and the role of blacks and other diverse members of the Democratic Party. The role of vice president has been undefined so far. Barack Obama trusted Joe Biden to travel the world, to take some of the national security portfolio. And many people of the Biden campaign think Senator Harris will as well.
BLITZER: All right, let's listen in. The vice president-elect will speak first. She will introduce the president-elect and then he will speak. There's going to be a lot of music we're going to be hearing as well. Let's listen to some of that right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome the vice president of the United States of America, Kamala Harris.
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE-PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening. Good evening. Good evening. Good evening. Thank you, thank you. Good evening.
So -- thank you, good evening. So, Congressman John Lewis, Congressman John Lewis, before his passing wrote, democracy is not a state, it is an act. And what he meant was that America's democracy is not guaranteed.
It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it and never take it for granted. And protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it. And there is progress, because we, the people, have the power to build a better future.
And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election with the very soul of America at stake and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.
To our campaign staff and volunteers, this extraordinary team, thank you for bringing more people than ever before into the democratic process.
And for making this victory possible, to the poll workers and election officials across our country, who have worked tirelessly to make sure every vote is counted. Our nation owes you a debt of gratitude. You have protected the integrity of our democracy. And to the American people who make up our beautiful country, thank you for turning out in record numbers to make your voices heard. And I know times have been challenging, especially the last several months, the grief, sorrow and pain, the worries and the struggles. But we have also witnessed your courage, your resilience, and the generosity of your spirit. For four years, you marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives, and for our planet, and then you voted.
And you delivered a clear message. You chose hope and unity, decency, science, and yes, truth. You chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America.
And Joe is a healer, a uniter, a tested and steady hand. A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us as a nation, reclaim our own sense of purpose. And a man with a big heart, who loves with abandon. It's his love for Jill, who will be an incredible First Lady.
It's his love for Hunter, and Ashley and his grandchildren and the entire Biden family. And while I first heard Joe as Vice President, I really got to know him as the father who loved Beau, my dear friend, who we remember here today, and to my husband, Doug, and our children, Cole and Ella and my sister, Maya, and our whole family, I love you all more than I can ever express.
We are so grateful to Joe and Jill for welcoming our family into theirs on this incredible journey. And to the woman most responsible for my presence here today, my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who was always in our hearts. When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn't quite imagine this moment, but she believed so deeply, and in America, where a moment like this is possible. And so I'm thinking about her, and about the generations of women, black women, Asian, white, Latina Native American women who, throughout our nation's history, have paved the way for this moment tonight.
Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, and liberty, and justice for all, including the black women who are often, too often, overlooked, but so often proved they are the backbone of our democracy.
All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century, 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots, and continue the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.
Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination, and the strength of their vision, to see what can be unburdened by what has been. And I stand on their shoulders. And what a testament it is, to Joe's character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his vice president.
But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities, and to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message, dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they've never seen it before, but know that we will applaud you every step of the way.
And to the American people, no matter who you voted for, I will strive to be a vice president, like Joe was to President Obama, loyal, honest, and prepared, waking up every day, thinking of you and your family. Because now is when the real work begins. The hard work, the necessary work, the good work, the essential work, to save lives and beat this epidemic, to rebuild our economy. So, what works for working people to root out systemic racism in our justice system and society, to combat the climate crisis, to unite our country and heal the soul of our nation.
And the road ahead will not be easy, but America is ready. And so are Joe and I.
We have elected a president who represents the best in us, a leader, the world will respect and our children will look up to. A commander in chief will respect our troops and keep our country safe, and a president for all Americans.
And it is now my great honor to introduce the President-elect of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, my fellow Americans and the people who brought me the dance, Delawareans.
I see my buddy, Tom, Senator Tom Carper down there. And I think -- I think Senator Coons is there. And I think the governor's around him. Is that Ruth Ann? And our former governor Ruth Ann Minner. Most importantly, my sisters-in-law, my sister Valerie, anyway.
Folks, the people of this nation have spoken. They've delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for, we the people, we've won with the most votes ever cast on a presidential ticket in the history of the nation, 74 million.
Well, I must admit, it surprised me. Tonight, we're seeing all over this nation, all cities in all parts of the country, indeed, across the world, an outpouring of joy, of hope, renewed faith in tomorrow, bring a better day. And I'm humbled by the trust and confidence you placed in me. I pledged to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States, and work with all my heart with the confidence of the whole people to win the confidence of all of you.
And for that is what America, I believe is about. It's about people. And that's what our administration will be all about. I sought this office to restore the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class, and to make America respected around the world again. And to unite us here at home. It's the honor of my lifetime that so many millions of Americans have voted for that vision.
And now, the work of making that vision is real. It's a task, the task of our time. Folks, as I said many times before, I'm Jill's husband. And I would not be here without her love and tireless support of Jill and my son, Hunter, and Ashley, my daughter and all our grandchildren, and their spouses, and all our family. They're my heart. Joe's mom, a military mom and educator. She has dedicated her life to education. But teaching isn't just what she does. It's who she is.
For American educators, this is a great day for you all. You're going to have one of your own in the White House. And Jill is going to make a great first lady. I'm so proud of her.
And I'll have the honor of serving with a fantastic vice president. You just heard from Kamala Harris, will make history as the first woman, first black woman, the first woman from South Asia descent, the first daughter of an immigrants ever elected in this country.
Don't tell me it's not possible in the United States. It's long overdue. And we're reminded tonight of those who fought so hard for so many years to make this happen. Once again, America has bent the arc of the moral universe more toward justice. Kamala, Doug, like it or not, your family, you become an honor (ph) with the Bidens, there's no way out.
To all those of you who volunteered and worked the polls in the middle of this pandemic, local elected officials, you deserve a special thanks from the entire nation.
And to my campaign team, and all the volunteers, and all who gave so much of themselves to make this moment possible, I owe you. [20:45:06] I owe you. I owe you everything.
(APPLAUSE) And all those who supported us, I'm proud of the campaign we built and ran. I'm proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse coalition in history, Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives, young, old, urban, suburban, rural, gay, straight, transgender, white, Latino, Asian, Native American.
I mean it, especially those moments -- and especially those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African-American community stood up again for me.
You've always had my back, and I'll have yours.
I said at the outset I wanted to represent -- this campaign to represent and look like America. We've done that. Now that's what I want the administration to look like and act like.
For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple of times myself. But now, let's give each other a chance.
It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans. They are Americans.
The Bible tells us, "To everything there is a season, a time to build, a time to reap, and a time to sow, and a time to heal."
This is the time to heal in America.
Now this campaign is over, what is the will of the people? What is our mandate?
I believe it's this. America, you have called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness, to marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope, and the great battles of our time, the battle to control the virus, the battle to build prosperity, the battle to secure your family's health care, the battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country.
And the battle to save our planet by getting climate under control. (APPLAUSE)
The battle to restore decency, defend democracy and give everybody in this country a fair shot. That's all they're asking for, a fair shot.
Folks, our work begins with getting COVID under control. We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality or relish life's most precious moments, hugging our grandchildren, our children, our birthdays, weddings, graduations, all the moments that matter most to us, until we get it under control.
On Monday I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisors to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that will start on January the 20th, 2021.
That plan will be built on bedrock science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern. I will spare no effort -- none -- or any commitment to turn around this pandemic.
Folks, I'm a proud Democrat.
But I will govern as an American president.
I'll work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.
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 make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.
And I believe that this is part of the mandate given to us from the American people.
They want us to cooperate in their interests, and that's the choice I'll make.
And I'll call on Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to make that choice with me. The American story is about slow yet steadily widening the opportunities in America. And make no mistake, too many dreams have been deferred for too long. We must make the promise of the country real for everybody, no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity or their disability.
Folks, America has always been shaped by inflection points, by moments in time where we've made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be: Lincoln in 1860 coming to save the union; FDR in 1932 promising a beleaguered country a New Deal; JFK in 1960 pledging a new frontier; and 12 years ago, when Barack Obama made history, he told us, "Yes, we can."
Well, folks, we stand at an inflection point. We have an opportunity to defeat despair, to build a nation of prosperity and purpose. We can do it. I know we can.
I've long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. And what presidents say in this battle matters. It's time for our better angels to prevail.
Tonight, the whole world is watching America. And I believe, at our best, America is a beacon for the globe. We will not lead -- we will lead not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
I know, I've always believed -- many of you heard me say it -- I've always believed we can define America in one word: possibilities.
That in America, everyone should be given an opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them. You see, I believe in the possibility of this country.
We're always looking ahead, ahead to an America that's freer and more just, ahead to an America that creates jobs with dignity and respect, ahead to an America that cures diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's, ahead to an America that never leaves anyone behind, ahead to an America that never gives up, never gives in.
This is a great nation. It's always been a bad bet to bet against America. We're good people. This is the United States of America. And there's never been anything -- never been anything we've been able -- not able to do, when we've done it together.
Folks, in the last days of the campaign, I began thinking about a hymn that means a lot to me and my family, particularly my deceased son, Beau. It captures the faith that sustains me and which I believe sustains America.
And I hope -- and I hope it can provide some comfort and solace to the 230 million -- thousand -- Americans who have lost a loved one due to this terrible virus this year. My heart goes out to each and every one of you. Hopefully, this hymn gives you solace as well.
And it goes like this. "And he will raise you up on eagles' wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, and make you to shine like the sun and hold you in the palm of his hand."
And now together, on eagles' wings, we embark on the work that God and history have called upon us to do, with full hearts and steady hands, with faith in America and in each other, with love of country, a thirst for justice.
Let us be the nation that we know we can be, a nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed, the United States of America. And, ladies and gentlemen, there has never, never been anything we've tried we've not been able to do.
So remember, as my grandpop -- our grandpop used to say when I walked out of his home, when I was a kid up in Scranton -- he said, "Joey, keep the faith."
And our grandmother, when she was alive, she yelled, "No, Joey, spread it." Spread the faith.
God love you all. May God bless America, and may God protect our troops.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.