Democratic challenger Joe Biden again addressed the nation Friday night, continuing to urge patience but with the confidence of a candidate secure in his front-running position in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and (barely) Georgia, key states that remained in play for both the president and his opponent as they each seek 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.
“We don’t have a final declaration of victory yet, but the numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: We’re going to win this race,” the former vice president said in remarks delivered just before 11 p.m. in Wilmington, Delaware.
It is not the only compelling undecided race for Utahns, who are also focused on the 4th Congressional District where incumbent Congressman Ben McAdams reclaimed a slight lead over Republican challenger Burgess Owens in a race not likely to be decided until next week.
It made for a compelling third day of an election week that has moved from its first-Tuesday-in-November vote to a season of counting, court challenges and what will eventually be a declared winner.
President Trump’s team pushed for a recount in Georgia, which appeared certain with a difference of less than 5,000 votes between the president and Biden, with Biden holding the edge. The former vice president’s lead in Nevada was 22,657 votes, in Pennsylvania 28,833 votes and in Arizona, 29,861 votes.
Trump did not speak publicly before cameras Friday but said his complaints were “no longer about any single election” but “about the integrity of our entire election process.” But with every passing hour and release of vote totals, Democrats became more confident in victory for their candidate.
Trump also challenged any declaration that the election is over, warning on Twitter that “Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!”
The integrity of the election has been a trending topic since the president challenged it in remarks Thursday. It prompted Utah Sen. Mitt Romney Friday to respond, saying the president is within his rights to request recounts, to call for investigation of alleged voting irregularities where evidence exists and to exhaust legal remedies, and that doing those things is consistent with the election process.
“He is wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupt and stolen — doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic, and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions,” he said.
Biden would be the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. Sen. Kamala Harris of California would be the first woman, and the first person of color, to serve as vice president, a job Biden held for eight years.
The challenges ahead are daunting, including a pandemic that has cost 235,000 American lives, the most of any country. They’ll have to navigate a deeply rancorous post-Trump era with Trump unlikely to retreat from public view.
Biden in his remarks noted that when the tallies are completed, more than 74 million Americans will have voted to elect him, the most in history. “They’ve given us a mandate for COVID, the economy, climate change, system racism. They made it clear. They want the country together,” he said.
Claims of a mandate are sure to be challenged by Republicans, particularly if they maintain control of the Senate. President Trump, whose current popular vote total was more than 70 million votes, also has topped the previous vote high of Barack Obama in 2008 when he won 69,498,516 votes.
Intense partisanship drove the record-breaking turnout. So did the flexibility states offered to cast ballots by mail during the COVID-19 outbreak, which few expect to disappear by Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021.
Defeat would make Trump the first one-term president since the elder George Bush lost in 1992 to Bill Clinton, whose wife, Hillary Clinton, Trump defeated four years ago. He would be the 10th incumbent president to lose an election.
Biden was in position to clinch at any point with a win in any of four battlegrounds where results had not been finalized: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina. Arizona is also in play, although both the Associated Press and Fox News called that state for Biden early Wednesday. The ongoing count eroded his lead, and the Trump team and other media maintain it is too close to call.
Without Arizona, Biden could win with Pennsylvania alone, or a combination of the other states.
The security cordon around him tightened in Wilmington, with a noticeably expanded Secret Service presence and the airspace over his home declared off-limits as a matter of national security. A decision in the election could come this weekend.
Herb Scribner and Dennis Romboy of the Deseret News and Todd J. Gillman of the Dallas Morning News contributed to this report.