In his victory speech, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden said his work will begin with getting the coronavirus crisis under control.
His running mate, vice-president-elect Kamala Harris, spoke of breaking down barriers, and argued democracy itself was on the ballot in the 2020 U.S. election.
Here’s a full transcript of their remarks in Wilmington, Del., on Saturday night.
Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris
Good evening. So, Congressman John Lewis, Congressman John Lewis, before his passing, wrote: “Democracy is not a state. It is an act.” And what he meant was that America’s democracy is not guaranteed.
It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it and never take it for granted. And protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it and there is progress. Because we the people have the power to build a better future.
And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.
To our campaign staff and volunteers, this extraordinary team — thank you for bringing more people than ever before into the democratic process and for making this victory possible.
To the poll workers and election officials across our country who have worked tirelessly to make sure every vote is counted — our nation owes you a debt of gratitude. You have protected the integrity of our democracy.
And to the American people, who make up our beautiful country — thank you for turning out in record numbers to make your voices heard.
And I know times have been challenging, especially the last several months.The grief, sorrow, and pain. The worries and the struggles.
But we’ve also witnessed your courage, your resilience and the generosity of your spirit.
For four years, you marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives and for our planet. And then, you voted and you delivered a clear message. You chose hope, unity, decency, science, and, yes, truth. You chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America.
And Joe is a healer. A uniter. A tested and steady hand. A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us as a nation reclaim our own sense of purpose.
And a man with a big heart who loves with abandon. It’s his love for Jill, who will be an incredible first lady. It’s his love for Hunter and Ashley and his grandchildren and the entire Biden family. And while I first knew Joe as vice president, I really got to know him as the father who loved Beau, my dear friend, who we remember here today.
To my husband Doug, and our children Cole and Ella, and my sister Maya and our whole family — I love you all more than I can ever express.
We are so grateful to Joe and Jill for welcoming our family into theirs on this incredible journey. And to the woman most responsible for my presence here today — my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who is always in our hearts.
When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible. So, I’m thinking about her and about the generations of women — Black women, Asian, white, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight.
Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are often — too often overlooked — but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.
All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.
Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision — to see what can be unburdened by what has been — and I stand on their shoulders.
And what a testament it is to Joe’s character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his vice president.
But while I may be 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. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message:
Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.
And to the American people: No matter who you voted for, I will strive to be a vice president like Joe was to president Obama — loyal, honest and prepared, waking up every day thinking of you and your family. Because now is when the real work begins. The hard work. The necessary work. The good work. The essential work to save lives and beat this pandemic. To rebuild our economy so it works for working people. To root out systemic racism in our justice system and society. To combat the climate crisis. To unite our country and heal the soul of our nation.
And the road ahead will not be easy. But America is ready. And so are Joe and I. We have elected a president who represents the best in us. A leader the world will respect and our children will look up to. A commander in chief who will respect our troops and keep our country safe. And a president for all Americans.
And it is now my great honour to introduce the president-elect of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
President-elect Joe Biden
Hello, my fellow Americans, and the people who brought me to the dance, Delawareans.
I see my buddy … Sen. Tom Carper down there. And I think Sen. (Chris) Coons is there. And I think the governor’s around. Is that Ruth Ann? And former governor Ruth Anne Minner. Most importantly, my sisters-in-law and my sister, Valerie.
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Anyway. Folks, the people of this nation have spoken. They’ve delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for we the people.
We’ve won with the most votes ever cast for a presidential ticket in the history of this nation, 74 million.
Well, I must admit it surprised me. Tonight, we’re seeing all over this nation, all cities, in all parts of the country, indeed across the world, an outpouring of joy, of hope, renewed faith in tomorrow bring a better day.
And I’m humbled by the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red and blue states, only sees the United States. And work with all my heart, with the confidence of the whole people, to win the confidence of all of you.
And for that is what America I believe is about: It’s about people. And that’s what our administration will be all about.
I sought this office to restore (no audio) America. To rebuild the backbone of the nation — the middle class. And to make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home.
It’s the honour of my lifetime that so many millions of Americans have voted for this vision. And now, the work of making that vision is real, it’s a task, the task, of our time.
Folks, as I said many times before, I’m Jill’s husband. I would not be here without the love and tireless support of Jill and my son Hunter and Ashley, my daughter, all of our grandchildren and their spouses, and all our family.
They are my heart. Jill’s a mom — a military mom — and an educator. And she’s dedicated her life to education, but teaching isn’t just what she does — it’s who she is. For American educators, this is a great day for you all: You’re going to have one of your own in the White House, and Jill’s going to make a great first lady.
And I’ll have the honour of serving with a fantastic vice president who you just heard from — Kamala Harris — who makes history as the first woman, first Black woman, the first woman from South Asian descent, the first daughter of immigrants ever elected in this country.
Don’t tell me it’s not possible in the United States. It’s long overdue, and we’re reminded tonight of those who fought so hard for so many years to make this happen. But once again, America has bent the arc of the moral universe more toward justice.
Kamala, Doug, like it or not, you’re family. You’ve become an honorary Biden, there’s no way out.
To all those of you who volunteered and worked the polls in the middle of this pandemic, local elected officials — you deserve a special thanks from the entire nation.
And to my campaign team and all the volunteers, and all who gave so much of themselves to make this moment possible, I owe you, I owe you, I owe you everything.
And all those who supported us: I am proud of the campaign we built and ran. I’m proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse coalition in history.
Democrats, Republicans, independents. Progressives, moderates, conservatives. Young, old, urban, suburban, rural. Gay, straight, transgender, white, Latino, Asian, native American.
I made it. Especially for those moments, and especially those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb — the African American community stood up again for me. You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.
I said at the outset, I wanted to represent, this campaign to represent and look and like America. We’ve done that. Now that’s what I want the administration to look like and act like.
For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the 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, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans. They are Americans.
The Bible tells us to everything there is a season — a time to build, a time to reap and a time to sow and a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America.
Now this campaign is over — what is the will of the people? What is our mandate?
I believe it’s this: Americans have called upon us 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 our 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. And the battle to save our planet by getting climate under control. The battle to restore decency, defend democracy and give everybody in this country a fair shot. That’s all they’re asking for — a fair shot.
Folks, our work begins with getting COVID under control. We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life’s most precious moments — hugging our grandchildren, our children, our birthdays, weddings, graduations — all the moments that matter most to us — until we get it under control.
On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisors to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that starts on Jan. 20, 2021.
That plan will be built on a bedrock science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern.
I will spare no effort — none — or any commitment to turn this pandemic around.
Folks, I’m a proud Democrat. But I will govern as an American president. I’ll 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 co-operate with one another is not some mysterious force beyond our control — it’s a decision, a choice we make. And if we can decide not to co-operate, then we can decide to co-operate. And I believe that this is part of the mandate given to us from the American people.
They want us to co-operate in their interest and that’s the choice I’ll make. And I’ll call on Congress — Democrats and Republicans and the like — to make that choice with me.
The American story is about a slow, yet steady widening the opportunities in America. And make no mistake: Too many dreams have been deferred for too long.
We must make the promise of the country real for everybody — no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity or their disability.
Folks, America has always been shaped by inflection points, by moments in time where we’ve made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be.
Lincoln in 1860, coming to save the union. FDR in 1932, promising a beleaguered country a New Deal. JFK in 1960, pledging a new frontier. And 12 years ago, when Barack Obama made history, he told us “Yes, we can.”
Well folks, we stand again at an inflection point. We have an opportunity to defeat despair, to build a nation of prosperity and purpose. We can do it. I know we can.
I’ve long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. And what presidents say in this battle matters. It’s time for our better angels to prevail.
Tonight, the whole world is watching America. And I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe. We will not lead … we will lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example.
I’ve always believed — many of you’ve heard me say it — 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.You see, I believe in the possibilities of this country.
We’re always looking ahead. Ahead to an America that’s freer and more just. Ahead to an America that creates jobs with dignity and respect. Ahead to an America that cures diseases — like cancer and Alzheimers. Ahead to an America that never leaves anyone behind. Ahead to an America that never gives up, never gives in.
This is a great nation. It’s always been a bad bet to bet against America. We’re a good people. This is the United States of America. And there’s never been anything, never been anything we’ve been not able to do when we’ve done it together.
Folks, in the last days of the campaign I began thinking about a hymn that means a lot to me and to my family, particularly my deceased son Beau. It captures the faith that sustains me and which I believe sustains America.
And I hope, and I hope it can provide some comfort and solace to the 230 million, thousand Americans who’ve lost a loved one to this terrible virus this year. My heart goes out to each and every one of you. Hopefully this hymn gives you solace as well.
And it goes like this: “And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn and make you to shine like the sun and hold you in the palm of his hand.”
And now together, on eagle’s wings, we embark on the work that God and history have called upon us to do.
With full hearts and steady hands, with faith in America and in each other, with love of country, a thirst for justice, let us be the nation that we know we can be. A nation united. A nation strengthened. A nation healed. The United States of America.
Ladies and gentlemen, there’s never, never been anything we’ve tried and we’ve not been able to do so.
So remember, as my grandpa … said when I walked out of his home when I was a kid up in Scranton, he said, “Joey, keep the faith.” And our grandmother, when she was alive, she yelled “no Joey, spread it.”
Spread the faith. God love you all. May God bless America. And may God protect our troops. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
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