'This is the time to heal,' President-elect Biden says in victory speech

"I will spare no effort or any commitment to turn around this pandemic."

Democratic 2020 US presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at his election rally, after news media announced that Biden has won the 2020 US presidential election, in Wilmington, Delaware, US, November 7, 2020. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
Democratic 2020 US presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at his election rally, after news media announced that Biden has won the 2020 US presidential election, in Wilmington, Delaware, US, November 7, 2020.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
President-elect Joe Biden has begun working on the transition process and shaping his future administration, his top advisers said on Sunday. "The work starts right away," Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said on Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press program.
"He's going to... begin transition work in earnest this week," Bedingfield said. "He'll be making calls. He'll be making announcements to the American people about how he's going to make good on these campaign promises."
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."
Biden delivered a victory speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, hours after US news networks projected that he would become the 46th president.
“The people have spoken, and they've delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory,” Biden said at the beginning of his speech. “We won with the most votes ever cast in the presidential election in the history of the nation – 74 million.”
He said that as president, he would seek to unite the country and to govern as a president “who does not see red states and blue states, but only sees the United States.”
Biden spoke to the Americans who voted for President Donald Trump. “I understand the disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple of times myself, but now let's give each other a chance.”
“It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” Biden continued. “And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They're Americans. The bible tells us there is a time for everything… this is a time to heal in America.”
“I'm a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I'll work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did,” Biden added.
Speaking about his priorities as president, Biden vowed to fight for healthcare, to achieve racial justice “and to root out systemic racism in this country.” He noted that the most urgent task is to get COVID under control. He said that on Monday, he would name a group of scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take his plan to fight the coronavirus and convert it into “an actual blueprint that will start on January the 20th, 2021.”
“That plan will be built on bedrock science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy, and concern. I will spare no effort or any commitment to turn around this pandemic,” Biden said.
The vice president-elect, Kamala Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice president, delivered a speech before Biden. She said that she is thinking about her mother, who immigrated from India, and about “the generations of women – Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women – who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all.”
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last – because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” she added.
Republican Donald Trump, the first incumbent US president to lose a reelection bid in 28 years, gave no indication of conceding as his campaign pressed ahead with legal fights against the outcome. Illustrating the uphill battle Biden faces after taking office on January 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.
Trump on Sunday posted remarks on Twitter from commentators casting doubt on the election's integrity including, "This was a stolen election." Twitter flagged the comments, noting "this claim about election fraud is disputed," the latest instance of a social media platform flagging his posts.
Trump and his advisers have presented no proof of their claims of election fraud.
Republican former President George W. Bush said in a statement that he had spoken with Biden and congratulated him on his victory.
"Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country," Bush said. "The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear."
Trump has filed a raft of lawsuits to challenge the results, but elections officials in states across the country have said there has been no evidence of significant fraud, and legal experts say Trump's efforts are unlikely to succeed.
Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said on State of the Union that he understood why Trump wants to continue fighting.
"I do believe, however, that it's destructive to the cause of democracy to suggest widespread fraud or corruption. There's just no evidence of that at this stage," Romney said.
If Republicans keep control of the US Senate, they would be in a position to impede large parts of Biden's legislative agenda, including expanding healthcare and fighting climate change. That prospect could depend on the outcome of four undecided Senate races, including two in Georgia that will not be resolved until runoffs in January.
Thousands of people arrived in the Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House, shortly after US networks declared Biden as the winner. The police closed the surrounding streets for car traffic, as many people marched down 16 street.
“I think everybody was pretty anxious, hopeful, cautiously optimistic, [but] didn't want to get too excited because last time everybody thought Hillary was going to win,” said Terry Bonds, a paralegal from DC. “I've been glued to CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for the last four days. So I'm glad it's finally over,” she added.  
“Everybody is thrilled and everybody is beyond excited and not just in Black Lives Matter Plaza,” Bonds noted. “Earlier, when I was driving the streets of DC people were driving, honking their horns, people coming outside our houses with their flags. The whole city of DC is super excited.”
"I'm glad that the election is over, and I'm glad that Biden was elected," said Thomas Sabella of Washington DC, who was holding a sign: "I heard that Florida is nice for retirement."
"I hope that the country will come together, and they will find what we have in common. And there will be peace together," Sabella added.
“I am here to celebrate this enormous victory for America, the United States, and the world," said Whitney Fisler, a lawyer who lives in Washington. Asked about the four-day waiting time for the results, she said: "It made me feel frustrated that our voting laws are so different in every single state. And it's confusing for people to vote and frustrating to see how easy it is for misinformation about that process to get out.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Biden and Harris in his message to Sunday’s cabinet meeting, which was conducted over video conference.
“I have a personal, long and warm connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years,” Netanyahu said, “and I know him to be a great friend of the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu expressed certainty that he and Biden will work well together and continue to strengthen the US-Israel relationship, in the video message relayed several hours after he tweeted his congratulations.
The prime minister also thanked US President Donald Trump “for the great friendship he showed to the State of Israel and to me, personally.
“I praise him for his recognition of Jerusalem and the Golan, for his standing up to Iran, for the historic peace treaties and for bringing the alliance between Israel and the US to unprecedented heights. Thank you, President Trump,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu’s initial tweet, which was almost identical to his remarks at the cabinet meeting’s opening, came about 11 hours after a flood of congratulatory messages to Biden from world leaders, sparking criticism. Netanyahu, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and President Reuven Rivlin had agreed to wait until after Biden’s victory speech to convey their messages.
Rivlin also expressed congratulations on Sunday morning to Biden and thanked Trump for his four years of partnership with Israel.
“I send the blessings of the Israeli people and of the State of Israel, to our friend Joe Biden on your election as the 46th president of the United States of America,” wrote Rivlin.
Lahav Harkov and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.