Friday, Sep 22, 2023

The Count Goes On: Joe Biden On The Cusp Of Presidency

The Count Goes On: Joe Biden On The Cusp Of Presidency

“Biden should not wrongfully claim presidency,” US President Donald Trump has tweeted.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden AP/PTI Photo

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is on the cusp of winning the presidency as he gained a narrow lead over President Donald Trump in the critical battlegrounds of Georgia and Pennsylvania. Biden is now in a stronger position to capture the 270 Electoral College votes needed to take the White House.

The focus on Pennsylvania, where Biden led Trump by more than 9,000 votes, and Georgia, where Biden led by more than 1,500, came as the US entered a third day since the election without knowing who will lead them for the next four years. The prolonged process added to the anxiety of a nation whose racial and cultural divides were inflamed during the heated campaign.

Biden was at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, as the vote count continued and aides said he will address the nation soon. Trump stayed in the White House and out of sight, as more results trickled in, expanding Biden's lead in Pennsylvania.

In the West Wing, televisions remained tuned to the news amid trappings of normalcy, as reporters lined up for coronavirus tests and outdoor crews worked in the North Lawn on a mild, muggy fall day.

Trump's campaign team, meanwhile, was quiet -- a dramatic difference from the day before, when it held a morning conference call projecting confidence as it held a flurry of hastily arranged press conferences announcing litigation in key states. With his pathway to re-election appearing to greatly narrow, Trump was testing how far he could go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence of the voting system.

On Thursday, he advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to illegally seize power. This was an unusual instance of a sitting American president trying to sow seeds of doubt about the democratic process. "This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.

He took to Twitter late on Friday to warn of further legal action, tweeting “Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!"

Biden spent Thursday trying to ease tensions and projected a more traditional image of presidential leadership. After participating in a coronavirus briefing, he declared that “each ballot must be counted.”

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working,” Biden said adding that, “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

Trump's erroneous claims about the integrity of the election, has left the Republicans in a tight spot as they are now faced with the choice of whether to break free from a president who, though his grip on his office grew tenuous, commanded sky-high approval ratings from rank-and-file members of the GOP.

Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan, a potential presidential hopeful who has often criticised Trump, said, “There is no defence for the President's comments tonight undermining our Democratic process. America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before.”

But others who are rumoured to be considering a White House run of their own in 2024 aligned themselves with the incumbent, including Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo, who tweeted support for Trump's claims, writing that “If last 24 hours have made anything clear, it's that we need new election integrity laws NOW.”

Trump's campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity, saying it would seek a recount in Wisconsin and had filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.

But judges in the three states quickly swatted down legal action. A federal judge who was asked to stop vote counts in Philadelphia instead forced the two sides to reach an agreement without an order over the number of observers allowed.

“Really, can't we be responsible adults here and reach an agreement?” an exasperated US District Judge Paul S Diamond said during an emergency hearing on Thursday evening.

In Pennsylvania, officials had not been allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law, and those votes went heavily in Biden's favour. Mail ballots from across the state were overwhelmingly breaking in Biden's direction. A final vote total may not be clear for days because mail-in ballots, take more time to process.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes are still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state's most populous area.

The AP has declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday that it was monitoring the vote count as it proceeded.


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