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WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will give his acceptance speech Saturday night, capping the most bitterly fought election in modern U.S. history and promising to unite a divided nation that faces monumental challenges.
The evening will began with his running mate, Kamala Harris, addressing the nation.
Biden’s victory speech, to be delivered at a drive-in rally in his home city of Wilmington, Delaware, will seek to break from the tumultuous and divisive politics of President Donald Trump, who has not conceded the election and continues to level baseless claims of voter fraud in states he lost.
Harris: ‘New day for America’
Vice president-elect Kamala Harris, making her first remarks since the election was closed, praised voters for ushering in a “new day” for America.
“When our very democracy was on the ballot,” said Harris, the first woman election vice president. “You ushered in a new day for America.”
Harris started her remarks with a reference to Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon who died in July.
“You chose hope and unity,” she said. “And yes, truth.”
— John Fritze
Biden arrives at Chase Center
President-elect Joe Biden arrived Saturday at Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, where he will make his first remarks since he won a long and bitter presidential election.
Biden is expected to speak in the 8 p.m. ET hour after being introduced by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. His motorcade, broadcast on cable networks as it made its way to the center, was lined in several spots with supporters.
Cheers and flags were raised, cowbells rang, and horns honked in greeted the motorcade.
The historic moment underscored a shift in the country ushered in by the election after four years of President Donald Trump.
The president, who did appear in public on Saturday, has not conceded the election and has claimed, without evidence, that hundreds of thousands of ballots are in question.
Though Biden has spoken several times since the election, his address Saturday will be his first major remarks since winning the election and will likely set a rhetorical course for the expected transition of power.
— John Fritze and Camille Caldera
Biden clinched after win in Pennsylvania
Trump returned to the White House on Saturday afternoon after playing a round of golf earlier in the day as thousands celebrated Biden’s victory outside.
Biden’s remarks will come hours after the former vice president crossed 270 electoral votes Saturday morning. Clinching a win in Pennsylvania put him over the top four days after Election Day as officials in several states continued to count a record volume of mail-in ballots cast during the coronavirus pandemic.
His victory set off celebrations in streets and parks across the country, from Washington, D.C., and New York to Atlanta and San Francisco.
Celebrations across the country:Supporters took to the streets in glee as Biden secures presidency
At 77 years old and turning 78 in two weeks, Biden is the oldest person elected to president. Harris, a first-term senator from California, will become the first woman, African American and South Asian American vice president. The two will be sworn into office Jan. 20 after electors meet Dec. 14 and Congress accepts the election results Jan. 6.
For Biden, the pinnacle of a long career
Biden secured the electoral win as the coronavirus pandemic reached an all-time high in daily positive cases and as the economy continues to struggle with high unemployment. Biden has vowed to implement a new plan to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 the day he takes office.
Biden, who spent four decades representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate and eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, entered the race calling the election a “battle for the soul of the country,” a message he kept through a tough primary and his campaign against Trump.
His manta was aimed at the polarization stoked by Trump, who refused to condemn white nationalists, enacted travel bans targeting immigrants from Muslim nations, promised to build a wall at the Mexican border and denied systemic racism.
‘Hopefully it will calm down’:The election is over. Now a stressed nation looks for normalcy under Joe Biden
The win for Biden is the pinnacle of a long political career. He ran twice for president before, losing in 2008 and 1988. Biden thought about running for president four years ago, but bowed out after his son, Beau Biden, died from brain cancer earlier in 2015.
This year’s election, the most unusual in recent history given the constraints of the pandemic, remained in doubt for days because of the unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots.
Pennsylvania, with 20 crucial electoral votes, was among states that could not begin processing its 2.6 million absentee ballots until Election Day. It meant initial numbers on election night showed Trump ahead before most of the mail-in ballots – which overwhelmingly favored Biden – could be tallied. Biden surpassed Trump in the vote tally on Friday and continues to build his lead.
A similar “blue shift” favoring Biden played out in other states including Georgia, where the race is still too close to call but Biden leads, and Nevada, which Biden also secured Saturday.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.