A day after clinching the US presidency, Democrat Joe Biden and his advisers were working on Sunday on how to address the nation’s coronavirus crisis while reinforcing his intention to bridge America’s gaping political divisions.
Republican Donald Trump, the first incumbent US president to lose a re-election bid in 28 years, gave no sign of conceding as his campaign pressed ahead with legal fights against the outcome.
Illustrating the uphill battle Biden faces after taking office on Jan. 20 in working with lawmakers from Trump’s party, the top Republicans in Congress on Sunday still had not acknowledged the former vice president as the winner.
In a speech in his home state of Delaware on Saturday, Biden delivered a message of unity and conciliation, declaring that it is “time to heal” the nation and reaching out to Americans who voted for Trump and to congressional Republicans.
“The work starts right away,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
Biden on Saturday made clear that tackling the pandemic was a top priority. Bedingfield said Biden planned to launch a coronavirus task force on Monday to plot the way forward, led by former surgeon general Vivek Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler.
More than 237,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 and coronavirus cases have spiked to record numbers in recent days. Biden made his criticism of Trump’s disjointed response to the pandemic a centerpiece of his campaign.
Biden has promised to improve access to coronavirus testing and, unlike Trump, to heed the advice of leading public health officials and scientists. Some 10 million Americans thrown out of work during coronavirus lockdowns remain idled, and federal relief programs have expired.
Biden and his advisers also will move forward with the work of choosing officials to serve in his administration.
Bedingfield added that Biden will “address a mandate to bring the country together – to unify, to lower the temperature, to set aside the harsh rhetoric of the campaign and get to the hard work of governing.”
Two former senior US intelligence officials – Michael Morell and Avril Haines – have emerged as leading contenders to serve as director of national intelligence or run the CIA under Biden, several current and former intelligence officials said.
Congratulations poured in for Biden from abroad, including from conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, making it hard for Trump to push his repeated claims, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him.
Trump was golfing on Saturday when the major television networks projected that his rival had won. Wearing his trademark red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap, Trump returned to the golf course in Sterling, Virginia, on Sunday. His motorcade was met by a smattering of admirers and detractors holding signs including one that read, “Trumpty Dumpty Had A Great Fall.”
Unlike other past defeated US presidential candidates, Trump has not made a concession statement or reached out to Biden.