WILMINGTON, Del. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. addressed the nation for the first time as president-elect on Saturday night, delivering a message of unity and trying to soothe the extraordinary divisions that defined the last four years in American politics.
“Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now,” he said.
In remarks before a drive-in audience in Wilmington brimming with longtime friends from Delaware, his home state, he directly appealed to the tens of millions of Americans who backed President Trump’s re-election, seeking to make good on his central campaign promise of bringing the country together.
“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight,” Mr. Biden, speaking at the conclusion of his third run for the presidency, said. “I’ve lost a couple 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.”
He added, “This is the time to heal in America.”
Mr. Biden’s optimistic speech, flecked with references to faith and American history, came 48 years to the day after he was first elected a senator from Delaware. He spoke from a flag-bedecked stage outside the Chase Center on the Riverfront, an event center near the Christina River, where he invoked themes that shaped his presidential campaign.
The message, as it was throughout the campaign, was rooted more in a sense of values than in an especially ideological viewpoint, an approach that helped him build a broad coalition throughout the campaign but that will be tested in partisan Washington.
Yet Mr. Biden grew impassioned as he insisted that for all of the tensions in the country, Americans still wanted to see their leaders find common ground. He promised to bring steady leadership and experience to meet the staggering crises facing the nation, most prominently the coronavirus.
“What is our mandate?” he said. “I believe it’s this: Americans have called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness, to marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.”
Senator Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, spoke first, telling voters that they had chosen “hope and unity, decency, science and, yes, truth.”
She invoked her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who came to the United States from India at the age of 19, and paid tribute to the women “who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight.”
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she said. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, a staunch ally of President Trump’s who had a chilly relationship with former President Barack Obama, congratulated Joseph R. Biden Jr. early Sunday, despite Mr. Trump’s insistence that the U.S. election was not over.
“Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a tweet, which he followed up with one thanking Mr. Trump for his friendship.
Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel. I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) November 8, 2020
The Israeli leader’s remarks to the Biden camp joined a flood of best wishes from other heads of state, indicating that the international sphere, including even some of Mr. Trump’s allies, was putting little stock in the president’s hopes that courtroom maneuvering would overturn the results.
In some countries where relations with the United States were frayed during the Trump administration, the relief at Mr. Biden’s triumph was almost palpable. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, hailing his country’s traditional friendship with the United States, said, “I’m really looking forward to working together.” President Emmanuel Macron of France said: “We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany declared, “Our trans-Atlantic friendship is irreplaceable, if we want to overcome the great challenges of our time.”
Less clear was China’s reaction. Chinese state-run news media reacted with cautious optimism that Mr. Biden would stabilize the fast-deteriorating relations between Beijing and Washington, but many outlets also continued to warn of future tensions between the superpowers and to suggest that American democracy was in decline. President Xi Jinping has not yet commented.
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, encouraged Mr. Biden to “compensate for past mistakes” and return to the 2015 nuclear agreement that Mr. Trump had abandoned, according to state media.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Mr. Biden and tweeted a separate message to Ms. Harris, the daughter of a woman from India, who will become the first woman and first woman of color to serve as vice president.
“Your success is pathbreaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis, but also for all Indian-Americans,” Mr. Modi wrote, using a Tamil word for aunts that Ms. Harris used in her speech at the Democratic National Convention in August.
Other reaction poured in from Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Mideast. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, who recently won re-election, congratulated Mr. Biden and welcomed his cooperative spirit.
“There are many challenges in front of the international community right now,” she said. “The message of unity from Joe Biden positions us well to take those challenges on.”
World leaders yet to weigh in include President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.
On a January evening in 2019, Joseph R. Biden Jr. placed a call to the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, a personal friend and political ally who had just announced he would not pursue the Democratic nomination for president.
During their conversation, Mr. Garcetti recalled, Mr. Biden did not exactly say he had decided to mount his own campaign. The former vice president confided that if he did run, he expected President Trump to “come after my family” in an “ugly” election.
But Mr. Biden also said he felt pulled by a sense of moral duty.
“He said, back then, ‘I really am concerned about the soul of this country,’” Mr. Garcetti said.
Twenty-one months and a week later, Mr. Biden stands triumphant in a campaign he waged on just those terms: as a patriotic crusade to reclaim the American government from a president he considered a poisonous figure. The language he used in that call with Mr. Garcetti became the watchwords of a candidacy designed to marshal a broad coalition of voters against Mr. Trump and his reactionary politics.
It was not the most inspirational campaign in recent times, nor the most daring, nor the most agile. The personality cult that had built up around Mr. Trump was absent: There were no prominent reports of Biden supporters branding themselves with “Joe” tattoos and lionizing him in florid murals — or even holding boat parades in his honor. Mr. Biden campaigned as a sober and conventional presence, rather than as an uplifting herald of change. For much of the general election, his candidacy was not an exercise in vigorous creativity, but rather a case study in discipline and restraint.
In the end, voters did what Mr. Biden asked of them and not much more: They repudiated Mr. Trump, while offering few other rewards to Mr. Biden’s party. And by a popular vote margin of four million and counting, Americans made Mr. Biden only the third man since the Second World War to topple a duly elected president after just one term.
PITTSBURGH — Like many Trump supporters, Dennis Tippie watched the steady tallying of votes that wiped away the president’s early lead in Pennsylvania, not with a faith that democracy was playing out but with dark and rising anger.
“If he does end up with that number of electoral votes,’’ he said of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is on his way to the White House thanks to Pennsylvania on Friday, “he would have gained them through fraud, deception and simple criminality.’’
No evidence exists of fraud, deception or criminality in the tallying of absentee ballots that piled up during the worst health crisis to hit the nation in a century. The state’s Republican-controlled legislature refused to allow those ballots to be processed as they came in, compounding the delays until the race was called on Saturday.
But Mr. Tippie, a retired truck driver who imbibed the president’s words partly through Fox News, agreed with Mr. Trump and his surrogates that the election was being stolen before their eyes. He lives in Nanty Glo, Pa., in the interior of the state that the so-called elites in Philadelphia sometimes call “Pennsyltucky.” To Mr. Tippie, Mr. Biden is “a total fool,” his running mate, Kamala Harris, is “a very scary woman,” and a Biden presidency would be both illegitimate and disastrous.
While Mr. Biden pulled off major successes in flipping Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania back to Democrats, and achieved the rare ouster of an incumbent, he did not notch the landslide demolishment of Mr. Trump that many Democrats had yearned for, despite leading in the popular vote by more than four million.
Instead, Mr. Biden will inherit a country where many Americans are already backed into mutually hostile corners. It threatens the president-elect’s most basic campaign pledge: to unite Americans, to move past divisiveness as a governing strategy, to heal the “soul of the nation.”
“I think we’re a long way from unifying the country, and I’m sure that Trump will continue to work on dividing us,” said Catherine Lalonde, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Butler County, a blue-collar region in western Pennsylvania.
“I don’t believe his supporters will accept Biden’s win and wouldn’t even if it were a larger margin,” she added. “I have a feeling that all the Trump flags and signs will stay put until they disintegrate.”
Kamala Harris, a senator from California and former presidential candidate, made history when she was elected vice president of the United States.
Her victory represents a handful of firsts: She will be the first woman, the first Black woman, the first Indian-American woman and the first daughter of immigrants to be sworn in as vice president.
It also marks a milestone for a nation in upheaval, grappling with a long history of racial injustice. Over the course of her campaign, Ms. Harris has faced both racist and sexist attacks from conservatives — including President Trump — who have refused to pronounce her name correctly.
The daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, Ms. Harris, 56, embodies the future of a country that is growing more racially diverse every year — even if the person whom voters picked for the top of the ticket is a 77-year-old white man. She brought to the race a more vigorous campaign style than that of the president-elect, Joseph R. Biden Jr., including a gift for capturing moments of raw political electricity on the debate stage and elsewhere.
A former San Francisco district attorney, Ms. Harris was elected as the first Black woman to serve as California’s attorney general. When she was elected a U.S. senator in 2016, she became only the second Black woman in the chamber’s history. Almost immediately, she made a name for herself in Washington with her withering prosecutorial style in Senate hearings.
Beginning her presidential candidacy with homages to Shirley Chisholm, Ms. Harris was seen as a potential front-runner for the Democratic nomination, but she left the race weeks before any votes were cast. Part of her challenge, especially with the party’s progressive wing, was the difficulty she had reconciling stances she had taken as California’s attorney general with the current mores of her party.
And although she struggled to attract the very Black voters and women she had hoped would connect with her personal story during her primary bid, she made a concerted effort as Mr. Biden’s running mate to reach out to people of color, some of whom have said they felt represented in national politics for the first time.
Progressives think President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s policies do not go far enough. President Trump has called Mr. Biden a Trojan horse for the radical left. Here is where he actually stands on several key issues: the coronavirus, health care, the economy, taxes and climate change.
Mr. Biden’s plans to combat the pandemic include improved testing, expanded production of personal protective equipment, safe vaccine development and the safe reopening of schools. He has vowed to do “whatever it takes,” including lockdowns if scientists recommend them. He has also said he will ask governors to institute a mask mandate in their states; if they refuse, he will work with local officials to get mandates in place.
Mr. Biden supports expanding the Affordable Care Act and creating a public option. He has denounced Republican efforts to overturn the health care law, and vowed that Americans with pre-existing conditions will continue to have access to health care. He does not support the single-payer proposal known as “Medicare for all.” He has endorsed lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 from 65.
Mr. Biden’s economic recovery plan promises to create millions of jobs. He has tied the economic revival to tackling climate change, racial equity and reinvestment in American manufacturing. Among his proposals are a $300 billion increase in government spending on research and development of technologies, like electric vehicles and 5G cellular networks.
Mr. Biden would partially repeal the Trump tax overhaul, rolling back tax cuts for corporations and the highest earners. He has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, from 21 percent. But he would keep tax cuts in place for other households, including those in the middle class, and he has promised that no one making under $400,000 will pay higher taxes.
Mr. Biden would spend $2 trillion to develop clean energy and eliminate emissions from the power sector by 2035. But he has declined to support the Green New Deal, a plan embraced by progressive groups. Although Mr. Trump has accused Mr. Biden of wanting to “ban fracking,” Mr. Biden has repeatedly said he will not do so. He has proposed ending the permitting of new fracking on federal lands, but not a national ban.
MARIETTA, Ga. — It took a lifetime for Angie Jones to become a Democrat.
As a young woman, she was the proud daughter of a conservative family that was active in Republican Party politics. Ten years ago, after a friend’s son came out as gay, Ms. Jones became an independent, though one who still watched Fox News. After the 2016 election, Ms. Jones, a stay-at-home mother in Johns Creek, a pristine wealthy suburb north of downtown Atlanta, became frustrated with seeing her conservative friends defend President Trump through scandal after scandal.
And this year, she voted for Joseph R. Biden Jr., after spending months phone banking, canvassing and organizing for Democratic candidates with a group of suburban women across Atlanta.
“I feel like the Republican Party left me,” Ms. Jones, 54, said. “It very much created an existential crisis for me.”
This week, the political evolution of voters like Ms. Jones drove Georgia to a breakthrough for Democrats: Mr. Biden, the president-elect, is on the verge of adding the state to his winning electoral margin, with a narrow lead that is headed for a recount but is nevertheless a drastic sign of the shifting politics in the South.
And two Democratic candidates, the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, forced runoff elections on Jan. 5 that are expected to decide control of the Senate, and thus the fate of Mr. Biden’s agenda. With the November election barely over, the nation’s political focus will now turn to Georgia as much as the presidential transition in Washington, as both parties pour money and resources into what may be an epic, double-feature political battle, in a state that was considered safe Republican territory just a decade ago.
HONG KONG — China’s state news media reacted with cautious optimism to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the United States’ presidential election, expressing hope that he would stabilize the fast-deteriorating relations between the two countries.
But many outlets also continued to warn of future tensions between the superpowers, and to suggest that American democracy was in decline.
Under President Trump, trust and cooperation between the United States and China ebbed to their lowest levels in recent history, as a trade war raged and officials on both sides hurled recriminations about espionage, protest movements and the coronavirus pandemic. China’s state-controlled news outlets had criticized Mr. Trump and the United States increasingly stridently in recent months.
But the immediate reaction to Mr. Biden’s victory on Sunday was measured, indicating that China was willing to attempt, and indeed was eager for, a thaw.
“The outcome could usher in a ‘buffering period’ for already-tense China-U.S. relations, and offer an opportunity for breakthroughs in resuming high-level communication and rebuilding mutual strategic trust,” Global Times, a fiercely nationalistic tabloid, wrote in an article, citing Chinese experts.
The article suggested that the two countries could work together on combating climate change, containing the coronavirus and developing vaccines, noting that Mr. Biden would be “more moderate and mature” on foreign affairs.
The response echoed much of the rest of the world, where many world leaders breathed sighs of relief at the election’s outcome. The president-elect has promised a restoration of normalcy and a renewed commitment to multilateralism.
Global Times noted that relief in a tweet, writing that the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, India and Germany had already congratulated Mr. Biden. “The Trump era is seeming over,” it said.
But even as Chinese propaganda signaled a new phase in U.S.-China relations, it also continued to push a narrative of American decline — a constant refrain in recent months as an increasingly wealthy and confident China has tried to market itself to the rest of the world as a viable alternative for global leadership.