Joe Biden Calls for Unity, Healing as He Addresses Nation for First Time as President-Elect

As he laid out his vision for the future, Biden also made an effort to reach out to disappointed supporters of Donald Trump.

Joe Biden took to the stage in Wilmington, Delaware, Saturday night for the first time as president-elect and addressed a raucous crowd hungry for change. Saying the role is the "honor of his lifetime," Biden, who has run twice before for president in 1988 and 2008, finally gave the speech he's been waiting some three decades to deliver.

"The people of this nation have spoken. They've delivered us a clear victory... a convincing victory. A victory for 'We the people,'" Biden said. "I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify. Who sees not red states and blue states... but the United States."

President-elect Joe Biden, right, on stage with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, left, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

As he laid out his vision for the future, Biden also made an effort to reach out to disappointed supporters of Donald Trump. "All of you who voted for President Trump, I understand your disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple of times myself. But now let's give each other a chance. It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, and see each other again. Listen to each other again."

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Biden was preceded on the stage by Kamala Harris, who made history as the first Black woman to be elected vice president, an achievement that comes as the U.S. faces a reckoning on racial justice. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris waves as she takes the stage before speaking, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Making her first comments as vice president-elect and dressed all in white as she honored suffragettes, Harris spoke over the cheers and applause of a roaring crowd. Harris spoke of her deceased mother Shyamala, as the woman most responsible for her presence on stage.

"When she came here at the age of 19, she might not quite have imagined this moment, but she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this was possible," Harris said. "So I'm thinking about her and the generation of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women who, throughout our nation's history, have paved the way for this moment tonight... I stand on their shoulders."

Angelique McKenna reacts to President-elect Joe Biden's victory speech while listening at Black Lives Matter Plaza, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Harris added, "While I may be the first woman in this office I will not be the last." She added, "Every little girl watching tonight sees this is a country of possibilities."

Both Biden and Harris acknowledged in their speeches Saturday night the diverse coalition of voters who propelled the pair to victory over President Trump. 

In what could be a first for any president, Biden singled out trans voters as one of the many groups that helped him take the White House: “Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives, young, old, urban, suburban, rural, gay, straight, transgender, white, Latino, Asian, Native American.” 

President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, son Hunter Biden and members of the Biden family, stand on stage Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

For his part President Donald Trump has refused to concede and is threatening further legal action on ballot counting.

Departing from longstanding democratic tradition and signaling a potentially turbulent transfer of power, he issued a combative statement earlier Saturday, saying his campaign would take unspecified legal actions. And he followed up with a bombastic, all-caps tweet in which he falsely declared, “I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES.” Twitter immediately flagged it as misleading.

Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

It was Biden's native Pennsylvania that put him over the top – the state he invoked throughout the campaign to connect with working class voters. He was also projected as the winner of Nevada on Saturday, pushing his total to 279 Electoral College votes.

Biden received congratulations from dozens of world leaders and his former boss, President Barack Obama, saluted him in a statement, declaring the nation was “fortunate that Joe’s got what it takes to be President and already carries himself that way.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.