decision2020

Biden Defeats Trump, Vows to Be ‘A President for All Americans'

Biden to become 46th president, pledges to end divisive politics

NBC Universal, Inc. WATCH LIVE: President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are scheduled to speak Saturday evening.

Joe Biden, who campaigned on uniting the country after four divisive years, defeated President Donald Trump for the White House, according to NBC News projections.

Biden's victory is a repudiation of Trump, who failed to gain control of a deadly coronavirus pandemic, who courted charges of racism and xenophobia and who was one of only three presidents to be impeached.

The election underscored just how fractured the country is: While Biden received more votes than any candidate in U.S. history, Trump received the second-most ever.

Biden pledged to bring the country together after a contentious presidential campaign.

"Folks, I’m a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president," Biden said during his victory speech Saturday night. "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."

Biden’s victory came after mail-in votes in Pennsylvania pushed the former vice president ahead of Trump in that state, capping days of tense vote-counting in battleground states and advancing Biden over the 270 electoral vote threshold.

Biden was expected to address the American people from Wilmington, Del., at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

As expected, the results were uncertain on Election Day, as millions of votes were still being tallied, many of them mailed in because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump prematurely declared himself victorious early Wednesday and falsely claimed fraud. State officials responded by insisting that all legitimate ballots would be counted and even some prominent Republicans refused to go along with Trump’s claims.

The Trump campaign is not likely to go quietly: It has already indicated it will request a recount in Wisconsin, and has ongoing legal battles in several states.

Trump released a statement shortly after NBC News and other news organizations projected Biden the winner: "Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated."

But by Saturday morning, Biden had won more votes than any presidential nominee in history -- more than 74 million, surpassing President Barack Obama’s 2008 record. He had won 273 electoral votes and was leading in several other states.

In a speech earlier in the week, Biden said that he believed he would win and called on Americans to put the rhetoric of the campaign behind them and to come together as a nation.

“To make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies,” he said on Wednesday. “We are not enemies.”

He said that although he and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, campaigned as Democrats, “I will govern as an American president." 

The Democrat ran on a promise to unite a country split by an administration that openly stoked anger and grievances. A moderate Democrat, he was able to bring together factions of his party and Republicans appalled at the direction Trump had taken theirs.

Joe Biden is the projected winner of the presidential election after NBC News called Pennsylvania for the former vice president.

The chasm that separated Trump’s passionate supporters from his equally fervent opponents brought an urgency to the election that spurred millions of Americans to vote early despite long lines and fears of COVID-19. Early voting in Texas surpassed the total number of ballots cast there in the 2016 election.

The turnout countered Republican strategies that critics say were intended to suppress the vote, from preventing early processing of mail-in ballots to court battles over how long after Election Day ballots could be counted.

“The American people are showing up in droves, they’re ready for change, they want to make their voices heard,” Biden told NBC Philadelphia mid-day Tuesday. “They’re showing up in the middle of a pandemic, high unemployment, and they want to make their voices heard.”

Trump spent weeks trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots and insisted that the results be known Election Day even though no state certifies its results that quickly. By Wednesday afternoon, as mail-in votes chipped into his lead in several states, Trump was tweeting false conspiracy theories about phony votes in Michigan, and "claiming" the electoral votes in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.

Early returns on Tuesday night weren’t so rosy for Biden, particularly in battleground Florida, which Democrats hoped to win. Trump took Florida with big gains among Latinos in the Miami area, and then also won Ohio and Iowa. 

Democrats worried that the early returns might foreshadow a repeat of the 2016 election, when they were left stunned by Trump’s surprise victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. But by Wednesday afternoon, Biden had won Wisconsin and Michigan, one of the states that Trump flipped in 2016, and had a path to the necessary Electoral College votes.

"The people of this nation have spoken," Biden said. "They delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for We The People. We won with the most votes ever cast in a presidential ticket in the history of the nation, 74 million. 

"I’m humbled by the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me."

Trump meanwhile had sued over the vote count in Michigan and Pennsylvania and was asking for a recount in Wisconsin.

Biden, who turns 78 on Nov. 20, will be the oldest president ever elected. Harris will set her own milestones: She will become the first female vice president, the first Black vice president and the first South Asian vice president.

"While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last," Harris said. "Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities."

Biden campaigned on more middle-of-the-road solutions to the country’s problems than those proposed by other Democrats. He favors building on Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), whose future goes before the U.S. Supreme Court this month, rather than adopting universal health care. He would raise taxes but not for those Americans making less than $400,000 a year. He supports reforming police departments in response to the shootings of African Americans but not defunding them. He would not ban fracking, as Trump falsely claimed, but he did acknowledge a coming end to an economy based on fossil fuels.

As important for many Americans, he has a plan for trying to halt the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 220,000 people and infected over 9 million in the U.S. Biden would ask states to mandate masks and would gear up testing and contact tracing. Trump downplayed the pandemic, flaunted local regulations to hold packed rallies, often went without a mask and was hospitalized with COVID-19 after a Rose Garden event for newly approved Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, which turned into a superspreader event.

Watch video of people reacting to news of Joe Biden's projected victory in the 2020 presidential election.

During the campaign, Biden showed noticeable empathy to families of coronavirus victims -- something that his opponent seemed to lack. Biden dipped into his own tragic past to relate to others who were suffering.

In 1972, Biden's first wife and daughter died in a car crash one month before Biden was sworn in as a U.S. Senator. Then, in 2015, while Biden was vice president, his eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer. When Biden chose not to run for president in 2016, it appeared the two tragedies would bookend his political career.

Instead, Biden chose to run for president in 2020, aiming to heal a divisive political climate that emerged under Trump.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Angelique McKenna, left, and Vivian Mora, react to a speech by President-elect Joe Biden who defeated President Trump to become the 46th president of the United States, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
People react to a victory speech by President-elect Joe Biden, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington.
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US President-elect Joe Biden’s supporters gather to celebrate the victory in front of the White House in Washington, United States on November 07, 2020.
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Supporters arrive to attend an event with President-elect Joe Biden, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.
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Children wave American flags before an event with President-elect Joe Biden, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.
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Supporters of President-elect Joe Biden get ready for him to speak in Wilmington, Del., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.
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A man dressed as Uncle Sam celebrates while standing on a statue outside City Hall after Joe Biden is declared the President-elect on Nov. 7, 2020 in Philadelphia.
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Pro Biden demonstrators rally around every vote counts in Lancaster, Pa.’s Penn Square after former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was announced as the winner over Pres. Donald Trump Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.
Noah Berger/AP
Meredith Walsh celebrates the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Oakland, California, Nov. 7, 2020. Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by the historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.
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People celebrate Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Philadelphia, after Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become 46th President of the United States.
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Two women hug as Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden was named the presumptive winner of the 2020 US presidential election during a rally for a fair vote count in the 2020 presidential election in McPherson Square, Washington, D.C.. CNN, NBC and AP projected Biden to win the election as he has surpassed the 270 electoral votes.
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View of 7th avenue in New York, as people celebrate after Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 7, 2020.
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A woman waves a Joe Biden flag as people celebrate on Black Lives Matter plaza across from the White House in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 7, 2020, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
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President Donald Trump returns to the White House from a round of golf in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, 2020, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
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People react to the motorcade carrying President Donald Trump back to the White House on Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington, D.C., after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
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Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate in front of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 7, 2020. Democrat Joe Biden has won the White House, U.S. media said on November 7, defeating Donald Trump and ending a presidency that convulsed American politics, shocked the world and left the United States more divided than at any time in decades.
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Supporters of President Donald Trump unfurl a giant American flag outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, after Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump to become the 46th president of the United States.
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Trump supporters continue to pray for favorable election results a Stop The Steal rally on the same day Biden was named President-elect, Nov. 7, 2020, at the State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona.
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Amanda Madden sprays champagne as people celebrate at Black Lives Matter Plaza after CNN called the race in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden over Pres. Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington.
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People celebrate outside Vaughn’s Lounge in the Bywater section of New Orleans, Nov. 7, 2020, after news outlets called the election in favor of President-elect Joe Biden and his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
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A supporter of President-elect Joe Biden celebrates outside Trump Tower Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Chicago.
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People celebrate on Black Lives Matter plaza across from the White House in Washington, DC on Nov 7, 2020, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
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People celebrate at Times Square after Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 7, 2020, in New York.
Alex Brandon/AP
People gathered in Black Lives Matter Plaza, react to the presidential race being called in Joe Biden’s favor, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington. Democrat Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States.
David Goldman/AP
Trump supporters demonstrating during the election results, at right, pray with a counter protester after the presidential election was called for Joe Biden outside thestate Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.
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Yei Boayue, center, celebrate news that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has presumptively won the election while waiting at the Chase Center where Mr. Biden is expected to make an announcement on November 07, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Votes are still being counted in his race against incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump.
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Joe Blewitt, a cousin of Joe Biden’s, sprays a bottle of champagne along with family members underneath a mural of Presidential candidate Joe Biden as locals celebrate in anticipation of Biden being elected as the next US President on Nov. 7, 2020 in Ballina, Ireland. Joe Biden, whose distant relatives hail from the County Mayo town of Ballina, has visited the town twice before as the former Vice President.
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People celebrate on Black Lives Matter plaza in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, 2020, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
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Supporters of President Donald Trump rally outside the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Phoenix. Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday.

During his four years in office, Trump got three Supreme Court justices confirmed and 220 judges in all, signed a $1.5 trillion tax law, withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord, rolled back numerous environmental protections and moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. His changes to immigration policy were wide ranging and among the most criticized, from turning back asylum seekers to separating children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration said that it cannot find the parents of 545 migrant children.

Trump also saw eight of his advisors criminally charged. He trampled ethical norms and benefited financially from the presidency. He long refused to release his tax returns, but The New York Times obtained his tax information for a 20-year period and found that he paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and the year after. He also has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due.

Biden, the longtime senator from Delaware and vice president under President Barack Obama, had seemed close to losing the Democratic primary to one of his younger or more left-leaning competitors, but in the end he prevailed over a crowded field. His comeback came in South Carolina with strong support from African American voters.

It was his third try for the presidency.