Democratic nominee Joe Biden, emboldened by strong results in several swing states, on Wednesday afternoon urged patience and unity after a bitterly fought election that he increasingly believed would soon make him the president.
Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden also touched on incumbent Donald Trump's false claims about already having won the election, despite millions of votes remaining to be counted.
And, repeating a familiar argument he has made all campaign, Biden, 77, cast himself as the antidote to such division.
"I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as I will for those who did," he said. "Now every vote must be counted. No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now. Not ever. America has come too far. America has fought too many battles. America has endured too much to let that happen."
"We the People' will not be silenced. 'We the People' will not be bullied. 'We the People” will not surrender," he continued.
And, he said, "I’m confident that we will emerge victorious."
The results of Tuesday's race remain unclear though the map now tilts toward Biden, whom The Associated Press has projected will win the key swing states of Arizona, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with additional (albeit narrow) leads in Michigan and Nevada.
Trump, 74, won in Florida, Ohio and Texas and has thin leads in Georgia and North Carolina. He would hope to win Pennsylvania as well as come from behind in Michigan and Nevada — and he has been suggesting that any votes that are now being counted against him are fraudulent.
More conclusive results were expected in the swing states on Wednesday night as well as Thursday, as the historic crush of ballots continue to be counted.
Trump's campaign has said they will request a recount in Wisconsin, given the 21,000-vote margin favoring Biden — though past recounts (including in the 2016 presidential race) did not adjust the final tallies much.
Separately, the campaign also said it would bring a lawsuit in Michigan, making good on Trump's threats to question ballot counting that did not favor him.
Speaking Wednesday afternoon, however, Biden was confident his leads would hold, he said.
"Government of, by, and for the people is very much alive in the United States of America. … Now, after a long night of counting, it is clear we are winning in enough states to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency," he said.
"I am not here to declare that I have won. I am here to report that when the count is finished, I believe I will be the winner."
Trump, who briefly spoke from the White House early Wednesday, had not yet made a public appearance or remarks later that day and reporters at the White House said he was not in the West Wing.
He was tweeting though.
In a string of social media posts he continued to claim victory over states where the results were not yet known — leading Twitter, not for the first time, to label his posts as possible misinformation.
During his speech from the White House East Room around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, Trump quipped to laughter that "this is without question the latest news conference I've ever had."
From there, however, the president's humor evaporated as he ran down a familiar list of grievances and lies about the election, including falsely boasting of victory in various states and attacking voting itself.
He repeated his attacks on lawfully cast ballots that are lawfully counted after Election Day, as has long happened in various states.
And he said, at the end of a confused and rambling stretch, that his campaign might turn to the Supreme Court for relief.
"This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country," he said. "We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election."
"This is a major fraud in our nation, so we'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court," he continued.
Vice President Mike Pence, on stage with Trump, seemed to quickly clarify, softening the president's stance: "While the votes continue to remain counted were going to remain vigilant … we're going to protect the integrity of the vote."
Speaking later Wednesday, Biden spoke in more conciliatory terms, seemingly bolstered by a win he could see on the horizon.
"So once this election is finalized and behind us it will be time for us to do what we have always done as Americans: to put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us, to lower the temperature, to see each other again," he said. "To listen to each other again. To hear each other again. To respect and care for one another again."
He continued: "I know this won’t be easy. I’m not naïve. Neither of us are. I know how deep and hard the opposing views are in our country on so many things. But I also know this as well: To make progress we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy."
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