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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Leading in Pennsylvania, Biden tells nation ‘we’re going to win this race’

“We’re going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us,” Biden said, pointing to his apparent strength in the historically red states of Georgia and Arizona as evidence of a broad political coalition.

By: New York Times | Updated: November 7, 2020 1:10:54 pm
US President election winner Joe Biden (AP/File Photo)

Joe Biden on Friday took the lead in Pennsylvania, where a victory would give him the presidency, and was ahead in three other critical battlegrounds as his campaign focused on a presidential transition process and states worked to tally the remaining votes.

In remarks to the country from Delaware on Friday night, Biden said that the trajectory of the race was clear and that he expected to win all of the uncalled states where he is currently ahead of Trump. He claimed the strength of his support reflected “a mandate for action” to counter the coronavirus pandemic and other crises.(Follow LIVE UPDATES here)

“We’re going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us,” Biden said, pointing to his apparent strength in the historically red states of Georgia and Arizona as evidence of a broad political coalition.

As Biden edged closer to victory, President Donald Trump and his political lieutenants spent the day continuing to float baseless conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of the election, and Republicans in several states threatened or took legal action aimed at slowing or halting the counting of ballots. But there were also mounting indications that Trump would not have the full support of his party if he persisted in a scorched-earth effort to impede the electoral process.

Early Friday, Biden overtook Trump in the vote count in both Pennsylvania and Georgia.

But in both states, as well as in Arizona and Nevada, Biden was not yet leading by a sufficiently wide margin to completely foreclose any possibility — however remote — that the count could still turn against him. On Friday evening, Biden was ahead in Pennsylvania and Georgia by less than 1 percentage point, and by not much more than that in the two Western states.

Should Biden win any combination of two states, or the state of Pennsylvania alone, he would clinch a majority of votes in the Electoral College.

Republican strategists and Trump allies concede that it is highly probable that Biden will cross that threshold soon enough and that he may ultimately carry all four of the states in question. In three of them, the remaining ballots are seen as likelier to favor Biden than Trump; in the fourth, Arizona, Trump gained ground on Biden but perhaps not by a sufficient amount to erase the former vice president’s lead.

As the president continued to hurl false claims of voter fraud, he was dealt another setback Friday when the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and four other aides tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a senior administration official. Meadows, who has repeatedly mocked wearing a mask, is only the latest member of Trump’s inner circle to contract the virus.

Biden’s remarks about the state of the race Friday night were his third in as many days since Election Day. Campaign advisers also indicated that they were ready to begin naming senior officials in an anticipated administration in a matter of days, if the race is called in his favor.

Striking an inclusive tone, Biden urged the country to set aside partisan warfare and “come together as a nation to heal.” Noting the slow pace of the vote count — “it can be numbing,” he said — he sought to reassure anxious Americans waiting for the winner of an election that has now stretched on for days.

“We have to remain calm, patient and let the process work out as we count all the votes,” he said. “Democracy works, your vote will be counted, I don’t care how hard people try to stop it, I will not let them stop it.”

In Georgia, Biden went into the lead overnight Thursday, thanks to a vote tally from Clayton County, a Democratic-leaning area near Atlanta. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said the state remained “too close to call” and predicted that it was headed for a recount, given that Biden’s lead stood at a mere 4,000 or so votes out of 5 million cast.

If Biden ends up winning Georgia, it would be a major breakthrough for the Democratic Party in the Republican-dominated Deep South: Democrats rarely win top statewide races outside of Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. No Democratic presidential candidate has carried Georgia since 1992, when Bill Clinton narrowly won there.

Biden held a lead of about 30,000 votes in Arizona, after a new tranche of ballots from Maricopa County, the state’s population center, helped Trump close the gap by about 7,000 votes Friday night.

Katie Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state, said on CNN that 173,000 ballots remained to be counted statewide, including 92,000 in Maricopa County.

In Nevada, Biden picked up about 2,500 votes in the Las Vegas area, officials said late Friday, giving him a lead of more than 22,000. Tens of thousands of ballots remain to be counted, but they continue to favor Biden.

It was in Pennsylvania, though, where the race seemed to turn emphatically in Biden’s direction. Early Friday morning, a few thousand votes from Philadelphia were posted, vaulting the former vice president into the statewide lead and setting off joyous celebrations in the city where Biden formally began his campaign last year and which he has long considered a second home. By Friday evening, Biden was leading in the state by about 29,000 votes.

Outside the city’s convention center, jubilant Biden supporters danced along a blockaded part of the street as a DJ with a speaker system blasted music. They unfurled a banner declaring “The People Have Spoken.”

Pennsylvania Democrats, however, were growing frustrated by the slow count and were eager for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to post more returns.

In what appeared to be another attempt to create an artificial sense of uncertainty around the vote count, the Pennsylvania Republican Party appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, asking it to order state election officials to separate mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day from all the other votes they were tabulating — even though Republicans acknowledged in the filing that Pennsylvania’s secretary of state had already issued an order to that effect.

The attempt to involve the Supreme Court came as part of a larger legal fight over mail-in balloting rules in Pennsylvania, in which the high court has already declined twice to get involved. But state authorities said there were fewer mail-in votes arriving after Tuesday than they had anticipated, suggesting that the stakes in the litigation might be relatively low.

Late Friday, a federal court in Nevada denied an injunction request by Republicans that could have delayed the count there by several days.

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