Biden-Harris ticket makes history

President-elect Joe Biden delivers his victory speech Saturday night in at the Chase Center in Wilmington. TNS photo

WILMINGTON — Forty-eight years to the day that he ousted an incumbent to secure his first term as a Delaware senator, Joe Biden addressed the nation as its president-elect from his adopted home of Delaware.

“My fellow Americans… Delawareans,” Mr. Biden said from the Riverfront in Wilmington Saturday night, greeting Delaware officials and family. “Folks, the people of this nation have spoken. They’ve delivered us a clear victory. A convincing victory. A victory for ‘We the People.’”

Alongside him, Kamala Harris made history with a number of firsts: she’ll be the first woman, first Black person and first South Asian person to be elected to vice president. Sen. Harris will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

As she took the podium, she thanked her mother — and the generations of women who came before her.

“When she came here from India at the age of 19, maybe she didn’t imagine quite this moment,” she said, speaking of her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris. “But she believed so deeply in America where a moment like this is possible, and so I am thinking about her 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 — women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all.”

While she acknowledged she is the first, she said she won’t be the last.

“Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” she said. “And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.”

The presidential election results came Saturday, as Mr. Biden had taken the lead over President Donald Trump in several battleground states. It was Pennsylvania, where Mr. Biden crept ahead as hundreds of thousands of ballots were counted over the course of about four days, that pushed him past the 270 electoral college votes needed to secure the presidency.

As mail-in ballots were totaled and Mr. Biden’s lead increased throughout the week, Mr. Trump began issuing lawsuits. Following the projection that Mr. Biden had turned Pennsylvania and Nevada blue to claim the presidency, Mr. Trump fired back.

“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” he said in a statement, citing again the idea of illegal ballots, with no evidence proving such.

But on Saturday night, Mr. Biden took the outdoor stage at the Chase Center to “We Take Care of Our Own” by Bruce Springsteen playing over the loud speakers. While there had been a cheer through the crowd when Mr. Biden’s motorcade made its way to the Riverfront, the roar as he approached the podium was deafening.

As he spoke in his hometown on a stage flanked by American flags, people poked through sunroofs and perched on the hoods of cars, waving their own flags.

The Biden-Harris campaign organized a drive-in party for invited guests to watch the speeches and celebrate the victory. In addition to the official festivities, hundreds of members of the general public crowded the Riverfront parking lots to get a glimpse of the action and absorb the moment Saturday, pushing shoulder-to-shoulder as they sought to see through the chain link fence that surrounded the area.

Mr. Biden noted he was surprised at the outpouring across the country of joy and hope as his White House win was decided.

“I understand the disappointment tonight,” he said later to Mr. Trump’s supporters. “I’ve lost a couple times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance.”

About five decades ago to the day, Mr. Biden achieved “one of the biggest political upsets ever” unseating incumbent U.S. Sen. J. Caleb Boggs for his spot in the Senate, where Mr. Biden would serve until 2009. Mr. Biden’s edge was 3,000 votes out of some 230,000 cast.

Mr. Biden, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and raised in Delaware, was one of the youngest candidates ever elected to the Senate at that time.

After bids for president in 1988 and 2008, he was tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate and he became an influential vice president, steering the administration’s outreach to both Capitol Hill and Iraq.

Looking toward the future, throughout the campaign — up to Friday evening when Mr. Biden expressed certainty he would be the U.S.’s 46th president — he pushed the message of unifying the country. It was something Sen. Harris agreed he would be able to do.

“The road ahead will not be easy,” she said. “But America is ready and so are Joe and I.”

Mr. Biden will take the highest office during a global health crisis that has impacted every facet of life — from the economy to schools — and as the country grapples with its history of racial injustice.

He announced during his acceptance speech that he’ll appoint scientists and experts on Monday to begin work on addressing the ongoing pandemic to create a “plan built on the bedrock of science.”

He acknowledged that through the election, it was Black Americans who supported his election Tuesday.

“You’ve always had my back,” he said, “and I’ll have yours.”

As he looked out to the crowd — before fireworks lit up the sky in red, white and blue, and Mr. Biden and Sen. Harris’s families joined them on stage — Mr. Biden acknowledged there’s more work to do.

“Now that the campaign is over — What is the will of the people? What is our mandate?” he said. “I believe it’s this: America, you’ve called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness, the forces of science, the forces of hope.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.