By Jennifer Epstein
President-elect Joe Biden declared victory in the 2020 election on Saturday, calling on Americans to reconcile after a bitterly fought campaign and vowing an orderly transfer of power despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.
“Folks, the people of this nation have spoken. They have delivered us a clear victory,” he said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, that was delivered to a drive-in rally of supporters wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus. “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.”
In his remarks, the former vice president took aim at the tumult of the last four years under Trump yet extended a hand toward the president’s supporters, saying he understood their disappointment.
“But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature,” he said. “To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.”
Biden promised to name on Monday a select team of scientists and experts to devise a plan to confront the coronavirus pandemic, saying the experts would start as quickly as possible, directed by science, not politics.
“That plan will be built on a bedrock of science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy, and concern,” he said.
He had been welcomed to the stage by cheering fans chanting “We love you, Joe!” as they honked their horns in support. In the parking lot, a massive American flag hung in the sky as attendees danced and waved signs of support ahead of Biden’s appearance.
Biden, 77, was joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, 56, the first Black and Indian-American woman to serve in that role. They greeted each other on stage wearing masks and did not shake hands, acknowledging the peril of pandemic that they have pledged to fight.
“Protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice, but there is joy in it. We the people have the power to build a better future,” Harris said, dressed in a white pantsuit, a favorite color of the suffragettes who fought for the right of women to vote.
“While I may 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,” she said, noting the history of her election.
Television networks and the Associated Press called the 2020 presidential race for Biden on Saturday after days of ballot counting, slowed by record turnout and an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has dismissed the results, claimed victory outright, and vowed to fight in court, citing unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud.
“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated. The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots. This is the only way to ensure the public has full confidence in our election,” the president said in a statement that was released right after the race was called.
Biden’s address to the nation culminated a long journey for the former vice president, who had run for the White House twice before, but never made it past the early primaries in 1987 and 2008. He considered running after serving eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president, but the death of his son, Beau Biden, and the coalescing of Democrats around Hillary Clinton led him to sit that election out.
Biden’s victory moved many Americans into city streets, dancing and marching to celebrate the end of Trump’s presidency. A crowd even greeted Trump as he returned to the White House from his golf club in Northern Virginia, shouting and waving signs.
By being declared the winner in Pennsylvania, Biden passed the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes needed to capture the presidency. He could end up with 306 votes if he wins in all the states where he is currently leading, a slightly larger edge than Trump had in 2016, when he secured 304 electoral votes. As ballots continue to be counted, Biden and Harris had earned nearly 75 million votes, more than any ticket in U.S. history and about 4 million more than Trump.
Biden will formally take over the presidency on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.
Renewable Fuels Association statement
“We look forward to working with the Biden administration in the years ahead to ensure a strong and growing market for low-carbon renewable fuels like ethanol," said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. "During the campaign, Joe Biden repeatedly stressed his support for ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard, which for 15 years has helped lower fuel costs for drivers, reduce dependence on foreign oil, boost the rural economy, and slash harmful emissions. President-Elect Biden understands that renewable fuels can play an instrumental role in our nation’s effort to decarbonize transportation fuels, and he also knows just how important a strong ethanol industry is to our nation’s farmers, rural communities, and consumers. We are committed to collaborating with the Biden administration on the many opportunities that lie ahead for renewable fuels.”
American Farm Bureau Federation statement
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall issued the following statement:
“The American Farm Bureau Federation congratulates President-elect Biden on his election, as well as the representatives and senators elected to serve in the 117th Congress.
“President-elect Biden will be presented with opportunities to improve the lives of rural Americans and this nation’s farmers and ranchers, who are facing challenges never experienced in this country’s history. A global pandemic, trade disputes and severe weather have converged to take a mighty toll on agriculture and beyond, impacting families and communities across the United States.
“Unprecedented challenges require courageous leadership and the willingness of all elected leaders to work across the aisle for the good of the nation. Agriculture provides a strong model for that, with a long tradition of aligning behind smart policy, not party lines. We urge all those chosen by the people to use the election to turn the page on partisanship and commit to working together. Show farmers, ranchers and families across America that we will rise to meet the challenges before us together as one nation.
“For agriculture, the priorities include expanding trade and market access so farmers can focus on competing in a fair marketplace. Rural broadband has expanded in recent years, but the time has come to complete the grid and end the crippling disadvantage faced by farms, families and communities without broadband access. The ability of farmers to feed America is directly tied to their ability to attract and hire employees, so we must find a fair solution to the farm labor shortage. We must strengthen the farm bill and build on advancements made toward regulatory reform to remove the barriers to prosperity while protecting resources with which we’re entrusted. We urge President-elect Biden to identify these as priorities.
“In addition, with increasing focus on climate-smart farming, we look forward to building on the great strides agriculture has made in reducing per-unit emissions and caring for the land, water and air -- all while feeding a growing population. Our journey of continuous improvement requires collaboration with the administration and Congress to expand research that unleashes innovation, build on conservation partnerships, and help producers navigate the field of developing ecosystem markets, ensuring they remain voluntary and market based.
“President-elect Biden’s term and a new Congress begin a new chapter in America’s story. Agriculture has been part of that story since the very first chapter, and we stand ready to work with our elected leaders to ensure farmers and ranchers regain their footing so they can help make America stronger and more prosperous.”
National Farmers Union statement
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew issued the following statement:
“The last four years haven’t been too kind to family farmers and ranchers. Overproduction, rampant corporate consolidation, trade disputes, and climate change have kept commodity prices stubbornly low, causing farm debt to balloon and farm bankruptcies to proliferate.
“On the campaign trail, President-elect Joe Biden has indicated that he intends to address many of the concerns we have expressed over the last several years. He has promised to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement as well as provide farmers and ranchers the tools they need to implement climate-smart practices, both of which are top priorities for Farmers Union members. Additionally, Biden has outlined his commitment to revitalize rural economies, enforce antitrust regulation, strengthen the Affordable Care Act, alleviate racial inequities in agriculture, expand rural broadband, and promote homegrown biofuels. These are all reforms that we as an organization have advocated for many years, and it is encouraging to see them incorporated so prominently into the president-elect’s platform.
“The vision that President-elect Biden has for America overlaps, in many respects, with National Farmers Union’s vision. We stand ready to work with his administration to ensure that its policies and programs adequately represent the interests of family farmers and rural communities.”