Joseph R. Biden Jr., 77-year-old former Vice President and longtime senator who has solicited the White House on and off for more than three decades, on Saturday renewed his commitment to unify and serve all Americans at once in the nation is deeply divided along sharply drawn partisan lines.
In a speech of about 17 minutes, Mr Biden, speaking for the first time as President-elect, pledged to lead with compassion, decency and character and to heal the soul of the nation. As he has been doing for months, Mr Biden also pledged to immediately tackle the coronavirus pandemic and work to stop its spread, an effort he said would be critical to economic recovery.
And in conclusion, he returned to the idea that Americans can’t do anything if they work together.
“Let’s be the nation we know we can be,” he said. “A united nation, a strengthened nation, a healed nation.”
Here is a transcript of Mr. Biden’s remarks as they were prepared.
My fellow Americans, the people of this nation have spoken.
They gave us a clear victory. A convincing victory.
A victory for “We the people”.
We won with the most votes ever cast for a presidential ticket in the history of this nation – 74 million.
I am honored by the trust you place in me.
I pledge to be a president who does not seek to divide, but to unify.
Who doesn’t see the red and blue states, but the United States.
And who will work with all my heart to gain the trust of all the people.
Because that’s what America means: the people.
And that is what our administration will be.
I sought this office to restore the soul of America.
To rebuild the backbone of the nation – the middle class.
Make America respected in the world again and unite us here at home.
It is the honor of my life that so many millions of Americans voted for this vision.
And now, the work of realizing this vision is the task of our time.
As I have said many times, I am Jill’s husband.
I wouldn’t be here without the love and tireless support of Jill, Hunter, Ashley, all of our grandchildren and their spouses, and all of our families.
They are my heart.
Jill is a mom – a military mom – and an educator.
She has dedicated her life to education, but teaching isn’t just what she does – it’s who she is. For American educators, it’s a big day: you’re going to have one in the White House, and Jill is going to be a great first lady.
And I will be honored to serve with a fantastic Vice President – Kamala Harris – who will make history as the first woman, first black woman, first woman of South Asian descent, and first immigrant daughter to be elected to a national post in this country. .
It is long overdue and we remember tonight all those who fought so hard for so many years to make this happen. But once again America has bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
Kamala, Doug – like it or not – you are family. You have become Honorary Bidens and there is no way out.
To all who volunteered and participated in the polls in the midst of this pandemic, local election officials – you deserve special thanks from this nation.
To my campaign team, and to all the volunteers, to all those who gave so much of themselves to make this moment possible, I owe you everything.
And to all those who supported us: I am proud of the campaign that we have built and led. I am proud of the coalition we have assembled, the largest and most diverse in history.
Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Progressive, moderate and conservative.
Young and old.
Urban, suburban and rural.
Gay, straight, transgender.
White. Latino. Asian. American by birth.
And especially for those times when this campaign was at its lowest – the African American community stood up for me again. They still have my back and I will have yours.
I said from the start that I wanted a campaign that represents America, and I think we did. This is what I want the administration to look like.
And to those who voted for President Trump, I understand your disappointment tonight.
I myself lost a few elections.
But now let’s give ourselves a chance.
It’s time to put the harsh rhetoric aside.
To lower the temperature.
To see each other again.
Listen to yourself again.
To make progress, we must stop treating our adversaries as our enemies. We are not enemies. We are American.
The Bible tells us that for everything there is a season – a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal.
Now is the time to heal in America.
Now that the campaign is over, what is the will of the people? What is our mandate?
I believe it is this: Americans have called us to bring together the forces of decency and the forces of fairness. To unite the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.
The battle to control the virus.
The battle to build prosperity.
The battle to ensure your family’s health care.
The battle for racial justice and to eradicate systemic racism in this country.
The battle to save the climate.
The battle to restore decency, defend democracy and give everyone in this country a fair chance.
Our work begins with mastering Covid.
We can’t fix the economy, restore our vitality, or savor life’s most precious moments – hugging a grandchild, birthdays, weddings, graduation ceremonies, all the moments that matter most to us – as long as we let’s not get this virus under control.
On Monday, I will appoint a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help implement the Biden-Harris Covid plan and convert it into an action plan that begins on January 20, 2021.
This plan will be based on a scientific basis. It will be built out of compassion, empathy and concern.
I will spare no effort – and no commitment – to reverse this pandemic.
I presented myself as a proud Democrat. I will now be US President. I will work as hard for those who did not vote for me – as I will for those who did.
May this dark era of demonization in America begin to end – here and now.
The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control.
It’s a decision. It is a choice that we make.
And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate. And I think that’s part of the mandate of the American people. They want us to cooperate.
This is the choice I will make. And I call on Congress – Democrats and Republicans – to make that choice with me.
American history is about the slow but steady expansion of opportunity.
Make no mistake: too many dreams have been postponed for too long.
We need to make the country’s promise for everyone come true – no matter what their race, ethnicity, faith, identity or disability.
America has always been shaped by inflection points – by moments in time when we have made tough decisions about who we are and what we want to be.
Lincoln in 1860 – coming to save the Union.
FDR in 1932 – promising a besieged country a New Deal.
JFK in 1960 – promising a new frontier.
And 12 years ago – when Barack Obama made history – and told us, “Yes, we can.
We are again at an inflection point.
We have the opportunity to overcome despair and build a nation of prosperity and determination.
We can do it. I know we can.
I have long spoken of the battle for the soul of America.
We must restore the soul of America.
Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our best angels and our darkest urges.
It’s time for our best angels to win.
Tonight the whole world is watching America. I believe that at our best, America is a beacon to the world.
And we don’t lead by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
I always believed that we could define America in one word: possibilities.
That in America, everyone should be given the opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given abilities take them.
You see, I believe in the possibility of this country.
We are always looking to the future.
Forward to a freer and fairer America.
Forward to an America that creates jobs with dignity and respect.
Ahead of an America that heals diseases – like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ahead of an America that leaves no one behind.
In front of an America that never gives up, never gives in.
It is a great nation.
And we are a good people.
It is the United States of America.
And there was never anything that we couldn’t do when we did it together.
In the final days of the campaign, I thought of a hymn that means a lot to me and my family, especially my late son, Beau. It captures the faith that sustains me and which I believe sustains America.
And I hope it can bring some comfort and reassurance to the more than 230,000 families who have lost a loved one to this terrible virus this year. My heart goes out to each of you. Hope this hymn comforts you too.
“And He will lift you up on eagle’s wings,
Carry on the breath of dawn,
Make you shine like the sun
And stand in the palm of his hand.
And now, together – on eagle wings – we embark on the work that God and history have called us to do.
With a full heart and steadfast hands, with faith in America and one another, with a love for the country – and a thirst for justice – let us be the nation we know we can be.
A united nation.
A strengthened nation.
A healed nation.
The United States of America.
God bless you.
And may God protect our troops.