“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed,” President-elect Joe Biden said Monday night, shortly after the Electoral College vote that confirmed his presidency.
Despite urging Americans that now is the time “to unite, to heal,” Biden for the first time bluntly condemned attempts by President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results, calling it an “unprecedented assault on our democracy.”
Not even an abuse of power can stop a peaceful transition, Biden said, just hours after members of the Electoral College voted in every state and the District of Columbia.
“We the people voted, faith in our institutions held, the integrity of our elections remains intact,” Biden said in a speech held in Wilmington, Delaware.
Electors on Monday gave Biden 306 votes to incumbent Trump’s 232, comfortably above the threshold of 270 electoral votes required for election.
Biden’s 306 vote total is the same Trump achieved four years ago when he defeated Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.
“At the time, President Trump called his Electoral College tally a landslide,” Biden said. “By his own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then, and I respectfully suggest they do so now.”
The former vice president, speaking in a downtown Wilmington theater, said that “if anyone didn’t know it before, we know it now. What beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this: Democracy.”
Trump has refused to concede, claiming without evidence that the election was rigged and that Biden would be an illegitimate president.
Trump had no comment immediately after Biden’s speech, but on Sunday, he took to Twitter, saying, “Swing States that have found massive VOTER FRAUD, which is all of them, CANNOT LEGALLY CERTIFY these votes as complete & correct without committing a severely punishable crime.”
He retweeted it Monday morning as the Electoral College voting started.
Trump’s campaign and supporters have filed dozens of lawsuits, which have been rebuffed by judges.
However, on Monday, Senator John Thune, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, said it was "time to move on" and that as soon as Biden crossed the 270-vote threshold in the Electoral College, he would be president-elect, Reuters reported.
Other Republican senators who publicly recognized Biden as president-elect Monday included South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, Ohio's Rob Portman, Missouri's Roy Blunt and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
Biden noted Trump’s actions in his speech and added that “respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy — even when we find those results hard to accept. But that's the obligation of those who have taken on a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution.”
The president-elect, with just a small number of staff, journalists and TV cameras in the historic Queen Theater because of COVID-19 precautions, said, “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame.”
And he added, “Now it is time to turn the page — to unite, to heal.”
There is little indication yet that the majority of lawmakers of Trump’s party are receptive to that message. Most Republicans in Congress have yet to recognize Biden’s victory.
The president-elect indicated his preference going forward is to focus on the pandemic, rather than looking back on the contentious election, saying: “There is urgent work in front of all of us. Getting the pandemic under control, to getting the nation vaccinated against this virus. Delivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today — and then building our economy back better than ever.”