Biden defeats Trump to win White House

A victory in Pennsylvania put Biden over the 270 Electoral College vote threshold needed to win the presidency.

Adam Edelman was the first to report that Joe Biden officially became president-elect Saturday after winning the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, NBC News projected. The former vice president amassed 273 Electoral College votes after winning Pennsylvania’s 20 electors, according to NBC News, surpassing the 270 needed to win the White House and defeat President Donald Trump. Biden’s victory capped one of the longest and most tumultuous campaigns in modern history, in which he maintained an aggressive focus on Trump’s widely criticized handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A majority of voters said rising coronavirus cases were a significant factor in their vote, according to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters. Biden regularly criticized Trump as unfit for office and positioned his campaign as a “battle for the soul of America.” He promised from the outset of his run to heal and unite the country if he won, and made central to his closing message a pledge to represent both those who voted for him as well as those who didn't when he got to the White House. In a statement issued shortly after NBC News called the race, Biden said he was "honored" by the news and reiterated the calls for unity that had been hallmark of his campaign speeches in recent weeks. "I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris," Biden said. "With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal," he said. "We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together." Biden will address the nation Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. ET, in a speech from Wilmington, his campaign said.

His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, said in a tweet that "this election is about so much more" than Biden and herself. "It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started," she said. A subsequent tweet showed a video of her calling Biden to emotionally tell him, "we did it Joe, you're going to be the next president of the United States." Celebrations — and protests — erupted across the nation in the moments after the race was called for Biden. Crowds of Biden supporters quickly gathered in grew in Times Square and Grand Army Plaza in New York, in Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House in Washington, D.C., and outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in Philadelphia. Pro-Trump gatherings protesting Biden's victory broke out in numerous locations, too, including outside the Michigan State Capitol building, in Lansing and outside the North Carolina State Capitol building, in Raleigh.

Biden will be sworn in as the 46th U.S. president on Jan. 20. Harris will become the first female, first Black and first South Asian American vice president. As president, Biden will immediately be confronted with a bitterly divided nation in the throes of a pandemic that has already killed 236,000 Americans. Trump has exacerbated the split by minimizing the effects of the pandemic, and has not even said whether he would recognize the outcome of the election. He will also have to corral a fractious Democratic Party with unresolved tensions between its progressive and centrist wings. Nevertheless, lawmakers from both parties — including establishment Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as well as Republicans like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Cindy McCain, the window of the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — quickly offered their congratulations to Biden and Harris for their projected victory.

Former President Barack Obama said in a statement that he could not be "prouder" to congratulate his former vice president. "I know he’ll do the job with the best interests of every American at heart, whether or not he had their vote. So I encourage every American to give him a chance and lend him your support," Obama said.

He also congratulated Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, for her groundbreaking win. Biden, who turns 78 on Nov. 20 and will be the oldest incoming president in U.S. history, first ran for the nation’s highest office more than 30 years ago. A longtime moderate, he has stressed bipartisanship for decades, and his long Senate career was typified by his willingness to work across the aisle with Republican colleagues. Heading into Saturday, Biden led Trump 253 to 214 in the projected Electoral College vote tally tracked by NBC News. Biden had higher vote totals in three key states — Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada, where the races are too close to call. North Carolina also remains too close to call, according to NBC News.

In addition to the projected Electoral College vote, Biden also won the popular vote, and he set a record for winning the most votes of any candidate in U.S. history. Trump has repeatedly and falsely declared victory, including in multiple states where Biden is the projected winner. The president has also repeated unfounded conspiracy theories and tried to cast doubt on the integrity of the tabulation process. In a lengthy statement released after NBC News called the race, a defiant Trump said, "We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don’t want the truth to be exposed." "The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor," he added.

Trump added that, “Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated." Trump’s motorcade was seen earlier Saturday morning pulling into the Trump National Golf Club, in Washington, D.C.