Joe Biden reaches out to Trump supporters in victory speech: 'Let's give each other a chance'

Ex-VP speaks to nation while president refuses to concede

Andrew Buncombe
Sunday 08 November 2020 07:16
Joe Biden reaches out to Trump supporters in victory speech: 'Lets give each other a chance'
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Joe Biden has reached out directly to supporters of Donald Trump, asking that each side give the other a fresh start, in his first address to the nation as president-elect.

Four years after the vice president of Barack Obama watched from the White House as Mr Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in a contest in which he believed he should have been the Democratic Party’s candidate, the 77-year-old sought to combine celebration with humility, in a speech in Delaware.

This was a moment the man first elected to the Senate in Delaware in 1972 had sought to win three times, and he did not seek to play down his what his victory meant to him, or his supporters. 

Nor too, did he do anything but highlight the historic, ceiling-shattering achievement of Kamala Harris, who will be not only America’s first woman vice president, but who was also the first woman of colour on the ticket of a major party.

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Yet, his speech was one very much tailored for the nation’s vexed and troubled times.. More than 230,000 people have lost their lives to the coronavirus, which has infected almost 10m people, and livelihoods and families have been devastated.

The election itself has also forced the nation to endure more hardship, confronted as it has been, by one of the ugliest and underhand political campaigns of the modern era.

Mr Biden has said plenty about that toxicity before, and he will do so again, no doubt, and others will be quick to assign the blame.

Yet on Saturday night, speaking before people he had said had made him dance, a joshing, happy home town crew as well as with visitors who had travelled across the nation, he was focussed on putting an end to that.

The pair said they had already started working

“To those who voted for President Trump, I understand your disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of elections myself,” he said.

“But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature. To see each other again.”

He added: “To listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.”

The man whose first wife and daughter were killed in a traffic accident shortly after he was first elected to the Senate, and whose eldest son, Beau, died from a rare form of cancer, has never been in the highest ranks of political orators.

Sometimes he mutters, sometimes he stumbles, sometimes he loses his train of thought. Yet while Mr Trump sought to mock Mr Biden for such traits and quirks, they are stamped with an authenticity many find appealing.

He does not have the charisma of Mr Obama, the style and magnetism of Ms Harris. Many will have chuckled to watch the one time vice president jog onto the stage to meet the vice president elect. Yet they will have done so warmly.

“I am humbled by the trust and confidence you have placed in me. I pledge to be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify,” he said.

“Who doesn’t see Red and Blue states, but a United States. And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.”

New Yorkers celebrate Trump loss outside his Trump Tower on 5th Avenue

He added: “For that is what America is about: The people. And that is what our administration will be about.”

Mr Biden entered the race for the White House as a moderate within the Democratic Party, and some one with a far from unblemished record on race relations. He had been a champion of the 1994 Crime Bill that demonised communities of colour. He opposed forced integration of schools and will be remembered for the pain he made Anita Hill, a woman of colour who alleged she had been been the subject of sexual advances from Clarance Thomas, a judge whose confirmation to the Supreme Court, Mr Biden was overseeing.

Many of this darker moments were examined during the campaign perhaps most powerfully by Mr Harris himself. Mr Biden did not deny any of it. He just hoped he and others could learn from it.

Progressives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went as far as to suggest, that were she and Mr Biden living in any other country than the US, they would not be in the same political party.

From his on Saturday, it appeared he had not not forgotten those lessons

“And to all those who supported us: I am proud of the campaign we built and ran. I am proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse in history,” he said

“Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  Progressives, moderates and conservatives. Young and old. Urban, suburban and rural. Gay, straight, transgender.  White. Latino. Asian. Native American.”

He added: “And especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest — the African American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.”

Indeed, the only thing that was lacking was were some words of grace from the man he will be replacing in the Oval Office.

Mr Trump has not yet conceded. On Saturday, he spent the day playing golf, issued a statement saying he could be legally challenging Mr Biden’s victory and then started posting angry tweets from the golf course when he got home, reportedly turned on the television and was angered by the celebrations he witnessed for Mr Biden’s win.

For now, that part of the process will have to wait for another day.

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