Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden claims a ‘mandate’ to govern, calls for end to ‘partisan warfare’ Mark Meadows tests positive for coronavirus Trump supporters scream at Telemundo reporter during live broadcast from Maricopa ballot center MORE on Friday said the breadth of votes he’s received so far is a clear sign voters have given him a “mandate” to govern, even as he called for calm as the count drags on in battleground states where he narrowly leads President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden claims a ‘mandate’ to govern, calls for end to ‘partisan warfare’ Mark Meadows tests positive for coronavirus Georgia Senate race between Perdue, Ossoff heads to runoff MORE.
Speaking at the Chase Center near his home in Wilmington, Del., Biden was clear that he was not ready to claim victory, even though he has banked leads in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada as the number of votes outstanding dwindles.
Trump would need to win in three of those states to secure a second term, which is looking unlikely but not impossible.
Biden said he expects to win in Georgia and Arizona, two traditionally red states in the nation’s Sun Belt. He crowed about having rebuilt the Democratic “blue wall” that “crumbled only four years ago” when Trump became the first GOP presidential candidate in decades to win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Biden also pointed to his growing lead in the national popular vote to argue that when the dust settles, he’ll have the political capital he needs to push for bold reforms. His 74 million votes so far are the most ever for a presidential candidate.
“What’s becoming clear each hour is that a record number of Americans of all races, faiths and religions, chose change over more of the same,” Biden said. “They’ve given us a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, on climate change and systemic racism. They made it clear they want the country to come together not continue to pull apart.”
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden claims a ‘mandate’ to govern, calls for end to ‘partisan warfare’ Election scrambles prospects for next COVID-19 relief bill Overnight Health Care: Election results underscore different views on coronavirus | What could a Biden administration do on health care? | Battle lines form over coronavirus fight in lame duck MORE (D-Calif.) also said this week that Democrats have been given a “strong mandate to lead,” though many in her party were deeply disappointed by their performance in down-ballot races on Tuesday.
Democrats have lost House seats when they were expected to pick up a dozen or more. They were also optimistic about winning the Senate majority heading into Election Day but will now have to win two special elections in Georgia in January, as well as the presidency, for that to happen.
At the state level, Democrats did not pick up any state legislatures and instead lost two.
The race for the White House is their biggest bright spot at the moment.
Biden had hoped the networks would have called the presidential race in his favor earlier on Friday so that he could address the nation for the first time as president-elect that evening.
However, it is taking some time for the final votes to be counted in the states that matter most, and the distance separating the candidates is still close enough that media outlets do not feel comfortable making a final call.
Pennsylvania is the biggest piece of the puzzle, as a victory there would push Biden past the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. He leads now by 27,000 votes.
Biden could also lock up the White House with a victory in Georgia, where he leads by 4,000 votes. But the Peach State is headed for a recount.
In Arizona, Biden leads by about 30,000 votes. That state has been called in his favor by Fox News and the Associated Press, although Trump insists he can still come back and win it.
Biden leads by 23,000 votes in Nevada, which appears to be leaning firmly into his column.
Still, Trump has given no indication he plans to concede and his campaign is flooding the battlegrounds with lawsuits alleging fraud and irregularities, but without providing any supporting evidence.
The president has called on some states to stop counting votes as Biden’s lead has grown due to mail votes being counted in populous urban areas.
“We have to remain calm and patient and let the process work out as we count all the votes,” Biden said. “Your vote will be counted. I don’t care how hard people try to stop it. I will not let it happen.”
Biden on Friday also sought to reach out to those who voted for Trump.
Millions more turned out to vote for the president than in 2016. So far, Trump has 69 million votes nationwide, the second most in history behind Biden.
The race in the battlegrounds is much closer than many experts anticipated and the president has grown his support among Latinos, leading some Democrats to call for self-reflection.
“No matter who you voted for, I’m certain of one thing, the vast majority of the 150 million Americans who voted want to get the vitriol out of our politics,” Biden said.
“We’re certainly not going to agree on a lot of issues, but at least we can agree to be civil with one another,” he continued. “It’s time for us to come together as a nation to heal. It’s not going to be easy, but we have to try. My responsibility as president will be to represent the whole nation. I want you to know that I’ll work as hard for those who voted against me as those who voted for me…we don’t have any more time to waste on partisan warfare.”