Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to unite the country as he called it 'a time to heal in America', after his historic victory over Donald Trump in a bitter and closely-fought presidential election – billed as one of the most divisive in recent American history.
Trump has so far refused to concede the election that attracted a record number of Americans to cast their votes amidst the raging COVID-19 pandemic. He has announced filing multiple lawsuits against the election results.
"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 said in his victory speech in his hometown, Wilmington, Delaware on Saturday night.
Biden thanked his supporters, saying he had earned votes from the "broadest and most diverse coalition in American history."
"I am humbled by the trust and confidence you've placed in me," the 77-year-old Democrat leader told the gathering amid applause and cheers from the audience.
"The people of this nation have spoken, they've delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for We the People'," he said, referring to more than 74 million voters who backed him.
The Democrat leader also reached out to Trump voters, saying he would act as their president as much as he would for those who voted for him.
"I understand your disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple times myself. But now, let's give each other a chance," Biden said. "This is the time to heal in America."
"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," the President-elect said.
The 2020 US election has been billed as one of the most divisive in recent American history.
"We are not enemies. We are Americans," Biden said.
The mandate of this election, he said, is that Americans have called on them to marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness. To marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of this 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.The battle to save the climate. The battle to restore decency, defend democracy, and give everybody in this country a fair shot," he said.
Noting that he ran as a proud Democrat, Biden said that he will now be an American president. "I will 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 is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control," he said.
"It's a decision. It's a choice we make. If we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate. I believe that this is part of the mandate from the American people. They want us to cooperate," he said.
Biden called on the Congress to make that choice with him. "The American story is about the slow, yet steady widening of opportunity," he said.
Observing that he has long talked about the battle for the soul of America, Biden sought to restore it.
"Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. It is time for our better angels to prevail, he said.
Asserting that the whole world is watching America, Biden said he believes at best America is a beacon for the globe.
"We lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. I've always believed we can define America in one word: Possibilities. That in America everyone should be given the opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them, he said.
Biden assured Americans that his first task as President-elect is to get the raging coronavirus pandemic under control with a definite plan that will be "built on bedrock science."
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 237,000 Americans and infected over 9 million others. The pandemic was a major topic of debate during the presidential campaign. Biden has repeatedly attacked Trump's response to the pandemic.
"On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris Covid plan and convert it into an action blueprint that will start on January 20, 2021," Biden said. "That plan will be built on bedrock science," he added.
"I will spare no effort" to turn the COVID-19 pandemic around, he added.
Earlier in the day, major news networks declared Biden as the winner of the November 3 presidential election after he crossed the threshold of 270 electoral college votes to win the White House.
The news of Biden's victory resulted in celebrations in major cities across the US including outside the White House in Washington DC.