Biden Wins 46th president of the United States
Former Vice President Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States, narrowly emerging victorious from a contentious White House campaign that stretched days past election night, as vote tallies in several swing states were slowed by an unprecedented surge in mail-in ballots.
Biden edged President Trump, who in the days since voting ended has falsely claimed a premature victory and baselessly said Democrats were trying to steal the election. The Trump campaign is still contesting the process in several states, and said in a statement on Saturday: “This election is far from over.”
Despite the president’s rhetoric, Biden’s team projected confidence as ballots were tabulated, knowing that large chunks of the vote still to be counted were in diverse Democratic strongholds like Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia.
The Associated Press called the race for Biden on Saturday when it said that Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes put him over the 270-vote threshold needed to win the Electoral College.
It’s a fitting tipping point state. Biden was born in Pennsylvania and launched his campaign with rallies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. He spent Election Day visiting his childhood home in Scranton and then rallying supporters in Philadelphia.
“America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country,” Biden tweeted on Saturday. “The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”
Trump had appeared to hold a lead in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, but the margin was a mirage of sorts, because at the time more than 2.5 million mail-in ballots had not been counted. Biden won the vast majority of those yet-to-be-counted ballots.
The race was closer than preelection polls had suggested, with Trump holding on to contested states like Florida, Ohio and Texas.
But Biden won back the White House the way Democrats vowed to since the day Trump won four years ago: by resurrecting the so-called “blue wall” that Trump dismantled in 2016 — winning Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Biden was also able to flip longtime conservative redoubt Arizona, according to The Associated Press, and held a narrow lead in Georgia as of early Saturday.
“The soul of the nation”
In topping Trump in a race that was both upended and largely defined by the coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic nominee has become the first challenger to defeat an incumbent first-term president in nearly 30 years.
At 77, Biden becomes the oldest man ever elected president. (He’ll be 78 by Inauguration Day.) He’s also the first former vice president to win the White House since George H.W. Bush in 1988; the second Roman Catholic in U.S. history elected president; and he’ll be the first president to call Delaware home.
And with his victory, his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first female vice president. She’ll also become the nation’s second Black candidate, following former President Barack Obama, to serve as president or vice president.
“This election is about so much more than @JoeBiden or me,” Harris tweeted shortly after being declared vice president-elect. “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”
Biden’s slim victory perhaps validates the central conceit of a presidential campaign that fellow Democrats often doubted: After nearly four divisive and drama-filled years of the Trump administration, voters would long for stability and a return to the status quo that Biden and his nearly five decades of federal government experience represented.
From the moment he launched his campaign in April 2019, Biden focused on what he called a “battle for the soul of our nation,” arguing that Trump was a dangerous aberration in American political history — but an aberration that voters could course-correct.
The election was seen as a referendum on Trump’s tenure, particularly how he had handled — or mishandled — the coronavirus pandemic.
And though the election was highly contested, Biden led Trump in polls for almost the entirety of what was, ultimately, a remarkably stable presidential race in an anything-but-stable year.
But for Biden, a career politician, this victory is a political comeback — a triumph that comes after a rocky start in this year’s primaries and two previous failed attempts at the presidency years ago.
An early political triumph, then tragedy
Biden was born in Scranton, Pa., in 1942, and when he was young, his family moved to Claymont and then Wilmington, Del., as his father looked for steady work.
“The longest walk a parent can make is up a short flight of stairs to their child’s bedroom to say, ‘Honey I’m sorry, we have to move,’ ” Biden has often recalled.
Biden struggled, too, to overcome a severe childhood stutter. He learned to navigate it in part by memorizing and reciting the poems of William Butler Yeats and other Irish poets in his bedroom mirror.
Biden went to the University of Delaware, and then law school at Syracuse University, where he met his first wife, Neilia. They returned to Wilmington and started a family as Biden quickly established himself as a politician, winning a seat on the New Castle County Council, and then, in 1972, launching an improbable run for the U.S. Senate.
Biden wouldn’t turn 30, the minimum age to serve as a senator, until after the election. He won in an upset and was set to enter the Senate as a rising Democratic star.
Then, Biden’s life was shattered. Neilia and their three children — sons Hunter and Beau, and daughter Naomi — were hit by a truck while Biden was in Washington, D.C., setting up his new Senate office. Neilia and Naomi were killed, and Biden weighed resigning his seat before he was sworn in in order to care for his surviving children.
Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Mont., helped persuade Biden to stay in the Senate. And Biden began a habit that would become a trademark of his life and political career: He commuted every single day between Wilmington and Washington, D.C., in order to spend as much time at home with his children as possible.
Biden married again, in 1977, to Jill Jacobs.
After two runs for president, the vice presidencyThe Delaware senator made his mark in the chamber on the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, serving for long stints as chair or ranking member on both. Biden presided over several high-profile and contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, including Robert Bork’s failed nomination and the hearings during which Anita Hill accused future Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
Biden ran for president in 1988 and 2008. Both times were considered flops. He withdrew from the 1988 campaign before the Iowa caucuses in part because of a plagiarism scandal. In 2008, Biden carved out a niche during the debates as a foreign policy expert but finished well behind fellow Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Iowa, and quickly dropped out.
But Biden had made an impression on Obama during those debates. That summer, looking to compensate for his lack of foreign policy experience and his relative newness to Washington — and also looking to appeal to white voters who may have been skeptical of the first Black major-party presidential nominee — Obama tapped Biden as his running mate.
Biden headed several key policy efforts for the Obama administration, including the 2009 stimulus package that’s credited with helping pull the economy out of a spiral toward a depression. Biden helped set the administration’s foreign policy agenda and often acted as the more aloof Obama’s emissary to Republican congressional leaders like Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell. Biden and the Senate Republican leader crafted several budget compromises in the later years of the Obama administration.
When Obama signed the landmark Affordable Care Act in 2010, Biden punctuated the moment with a hot mic assessment that instantly became iconic in Democratic circles: “This,” Biden whispered into the president’s ear as they stood in the White House East Room, “is a big f****** deal.”
Biden weighed another run for president in 2016, but it was clear many people in Obama’s orbit, including the president himself, preferred Clinton as the party’s next standard-bearer.
Another, devastating factor sealed Biden’s decision not to run: Tragedy struck his family one more time as his son Beau, who had risen to become Delaware’s attorney general, died of brain cancer in 2015.
A dramatic turn in South Carolina
By the time Biden decided to enter the presidential race this cycle, in April 2019, there were already some 20 other Democrats in the field.
But Biden entered the crowded primary as the clear front-runner, with strong name recognition and a simple message — he was running to “restore the soul of our nation.” He spoke about morality, character and unity.
It was, to his critics on the left within his own party, the wrong message for this moment; it was optimistic when many Democrats were demoralized and angry.
Throughout the primaries, Biden spoke of bipartisanship when many Democrats were convinced that was an outdated political vision. Progressives thought of Biden as the out-of-touch elder statesman who didn’t understand the modern Democratic Party.
They wanted sweeping systemic change; they wanted “Medicare For-All”; they wanted a wealth tax. And Biden seemed to offer only incremental solutions to their problems.
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