Washington: Confident of their victory in the US presidential election, Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris have begun working on the task ahead by focusing on two critical areas of public health and economy, both battered by the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
According to latest projections, Biden had 264 of the 538 electoral college votes up for grabs. He only requires another six electoral college votes to reach the magical number of 270, to be declared elected as the next US president.
“While we’re waiting for the final results, I want people to know we are not waiting to get to work,” Biden said in an address to the nation from the campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware late on Friday night.
“I want everyone to know that on Day One, we are going to put our plan to control this virus into action. That can’t save any of the lives that have been lost, but it will save a lot of lives in the months ahead,” the 77-year-old former US vice president said.
A day earlier, he and Harris held meetings with a group of experts on the public health and economic crises the country is facing.
“Senator Harris and I also heard yesterday about how the recovery is slowing because of the failure to get the pandemic under control,” he said.
“More than 20 million people are on unemployment. Millions are worried about making rent and putting food on the table. Our economic plan will put a focus on a path to a strong recovery,” he said.
Noting that the pandemic is getting significantly more worrisome all across the country, Biden said that daily cases are skyrocketing, and it is now believed that they could see spikes as high as 200,000 cases in a single day.
“The death toll is approaching 240,000 lives lost to this virus. That’s 240,000 empty chairs at the kitchen and dinner tables across America,” he said.
“We’ll never be able to measure all the pain, the loss, and the suffering so many families have experienced. I know how it feels to lose someone you love, and I want them to know they’re not alone. Our hearts break with you. I know tensions can be high after a tough election like we just had,” he said.
Biden urged his fellow countrymen to remain calm and patient as the vote counting process is still going on in some key battleground states.
“And let the process work out as we count all the votes. “We are proving again what we have proved for 244 years in this country. Democracy works. Your vote will be counted. I don’t care how hard people try to stop it. I will not let it happen. The people will be heard and our journey to a more perfect union goes on,” he said.
“In America we hold strong views and we have strong disagreements. And that’s okay. Strong disagreements are inevitable in a democracy, and strong disagreements are healthy. They’re a sign of vigorous debate, of deeply held views,” he said.
“But we have to remember: The purpose of our politics isn’t total, unrelenting, unending warfare. No. The purpose of our politics, the work of the nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict — but to solve problems. To guarantee justice. To give everybody a fair shot. To improve the lives of our people. We may be opponents — but we are not enemies. We are Americans,” he said.
Observing that the vast majority want to get the vitriol out of the politics, he said: “We’re certainly not going to agree on a lot of the issues — but we can at least agree to be civil to one another. We must put the anger — and the demonisation — behind us.” It is time for the nation to come together as a nation and heal.
“It won’t be easy, but we must try. My responsibility as President will be to represent the whole nation. And I want you to know — that I will work as hard for those who voted against me as for those who voted for me. That’s the job. It’s called a duty of care. For all Americans,” he said in a message for unity.
“We have serious problems to deal with — from COVID to our economy to racial justice to the climate. We don’t have any more time to waste on partisan warfare. And more than that. We have such an incredible opportunity to build the future we want for our kids and grandkids,” Biden said.
Biden said that he has never been more optimistic about the future of the nation. “There is no reason we can’t own the 21st Century. We just need to remember who we are. This is the United States of America. And there has never been anything we’ve been unable to do when we’ve done it together,” he said.
The US is the worst-hit country from the coronavirus that has killed more than 236,000 Americans and infected over 9 million others. The pandemic has devastated the country’s economy, resulting in the loss of millions of jobs.
The US’ central bank chief Jerome Powell on Friday said a full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it’s safe to resume their normal activities.
The reopening of the economy has led to a rapid rebound in activity and real GDP rose at an annual rate of 33 per cent in the third quarter. In recent months, however, the pace of improvement has moderated, he said.