Democrat Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election on Saturday after a bitter campaign, sparking street celebrations among his supporters in major cities even as President Donald Trump refused to accept defeat.
Biden’s win of the battleground state of Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral votes gave him more than the 270 he needed, ending four days of nail-biting suspense in a deeply divided country as angry pro-Trump demonstrators gathered outside some state capitol buildings.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal,” Biden said on Twitter.
Congratulations poured in from around the world, including from conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, making it hard for Trump to push his repeated claims, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him.
Trump, who was golfing when the major television networks projected his rival had won, immediately accused Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner.”
“This election is far from over,” he said in a statement.
Trump has filed a raft of lawsuits to challenge the results but elections officials in states across the country say there has been no evidence of significant fraud, and legal experts say Trump’s efforts are unlikely to succeed.
As the news broke, loud cheers erupted in the halls of the hotel where aides to the former vice president were staying.
Biden’s running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, tweeted a video of her calling Biden to congratulate him: “We did it Joe!” Harris will be the first woman, the first Black American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president, the country’s No. 2 office.
Cheers and applause were heard in neighborhoods around Washington, D.C., with people emerging onto balconies, yelling, honking car horns and banging pots. The wave of noise built as more people learned of the news. Some were in tears. Music began to play, “We are the Champions” blared.
In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, people clapped, and erupted in screams of joy as the news spread. Some residents danced on a building’s fire escape, cheering while others screamed “yes!” as they passed by.
In a reminder of the divided state of the country, however, angry pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” demonstrators gathered at state capitol buildings in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.
The protesters in Phoenix chanted “Trump won!” and “We want audits!” One speaker told the crowd: “We will win in court!”
Former and present political leaders also weighed in, including congratulations from former Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican U.S. Senator Mitt Romney. Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham called on the Justice Department to investigate claims of voting irregularities.
The networks’ declaration for Biden came amid internal concerns within Trump’s team about the strategy going forward and pressure on him to pick a professional legal team to outline where they believe voter fraud took place and provide evidence.
Trump’s allies made it clear the president does not plan to concede anytime soon.
One Trump loyalist said Trump simply was not ready to admit defeat even though there would not be enough ballots thrown out in a recount to change the outcome. “There’s a mathematical certainty that he’s going to lose,” the loyalist said.
Biden’s win ends Trump’s chaotic four-year presidency in which he played down a deadly pandemic, imposed harsh immigration policies, launched a trade war with China, tore up international agreements and deeply divided many American families with his inflammatory rhetoric, lies and willingness to abandon democratic norms.
Prior to the election, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost – and he stuck to that approach. He falsely declared victory long before counting was complete.
On Saturday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien urged supporters to be ready to attend protests or rallies that the campaign is “propping up around the country,” according to a person familiar with the situation.
“Stay at the ready,” Stepien said on a call with Trump allies and surrogates. “At a moment’s instance, we may need your help at protests in your states, to make sure the president is represented and our side of the argument is shown.”
Biden was expected to address the nation after 8 p.m. on Saturday (1 a.m. Sunday GMT) from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, according to a campaign aide.
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