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US President-elect Joe Biden: Let the healing begin

US President-elect pledges to be a president for all Americans and restore the soul of America by ending this 'era of demonisation'

WILMINGTON: After four years of polarising politics by his predecessor, the man heading to the White House has a clear message: "I will be a president for all Americans."

After claiming victory over Republican incumbent Donald Trump in a bitterly fought, nail-biting presidential election, Democrat challenger Joe Biden called for Americans to come together to begin the healing after years of partisan rancour.

"The people of this nation have spoken. They've delivered us a convincing victory. A clear victory," Mr Biden told supporters at an outdoor rally in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday evening.

"This is the time to heal in America," the 77-year-old former vice-president said. "I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify."

Acknowledging the disappointment of the 70 million who voted for Mr Trump, he said: "They are not our enemies. They are Americans.

"Let this era of demonisation in America begin to end here. 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."

Mr Trump had claimed victory after surging to an early lead despite millions of votes, especially mail-in votes mainly by Democrats, still to be counted.

Those votes proved crucial as Mr Biden wrested Pennsylvania from Mr Trump's grip to reach 290 Electoral College votes, beyond the 270 needed for victory.

Mr Biden is also likely to flip Georgia and its 16 electoral votes, which are still in play. Georgia, long a red state, may also present the Democrats, who retained the House of Representatives, an outside chance of gaining control of the Senate, with two seats going into a run-off election in January after no clear winner emerged.

The Senate is now finely poised with each party having 48 seats each. As the Vice-President has a tie-breaking vote, 50 seats would suffice for the Democrats while the Republicans need 51 to retain control.

Making the resurgent coronavirus his immediate priority, Mr Biden said he will announce a 12-member task force tomorrow to deal with the pandemic.

Mr Biden spent much of his election campaign criticising Mr Trump's handling of the pandemic, which has now caused the deaths of 237,000 people in the US.

He said: "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 starts on January 20, 2021.

"That plan will be built on a bedrock of science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern. I will spare no effort - or commitment - to turn this pandemic around."

REFUSE

Defying a tradition of classy speeches by losing candidates, Mr Trump has refused to concede, maintaining "this election is far from over" and vowing to challenge the outcome in court.

Taking their cue from him, top Republicans have also not acknowledged Mr Biden's victory, with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell insisting: "Every legal vote should be counted." - WIRE SERVICES

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