Biden Casts Somber Tone in Thanksgiving Speech Focused on Covid
(Bloomberg) -- President-elect Joe Biden called on Americans to unite in the face of a “long, hard winter,” using a Thanksgiving address to the nation to grieve for those lost to the coronavirus pandemic and promise that the nation would beat it in the new year.
“We have fought a nearly yearlong battle with a virus in this nation. It’s brought us pain and loss and frustration, and it has cost so many lives: 260,000 Americans -- and counting,” he said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden went on to draw an implicit contrast with President Donald Trump by calling for a different approach to combating Covid-19. “It has divided us. Angered us. And set us against one another,” he said. “I know the country has grown weary of the fight. But we need to remember we’re at a war with a virus -- not with each other.”
Biden pledged to use all the powers of the federal government to lead a coordinated national response to the coronavirus, but said every American has a role to play. “The federal government can’t do it alone. Each of us has a responsibility in our own lives to do what we can to slow the virus,” he said.
He also renewed a call for mask wearing and practicing social distancing, even over the holidays, saying the measures were a “patriotic duty.” By contrast, Trump has been dismissive of the need for masks. While he has worn them on occasion and has in the past urged wearing them when not socially distanced, he has hosted large events where they weren’t required.
Biden transition communication director Jen Psaki said earlier Wednesday that Biden’s message during the transition would be to lead by example and try to reduce the partisan divide in the response to the pandemic. “We are fully eyes open about how there needs to be a rebuilt trust in government and institutions in what is communicated to the American people.”
Biden’s Thanksgiving address -- which echoed the “soul of America” rhetoric so prominent in his campaign speeches -- came at the same moment that Trump was still bitterly contesting Biden’s win, even calling into a Pennsylvania legislative hearing to repeatedly complain that the election was a “fraud.”
Biden highlighted that record numbers of Americans voted in the middle of a pandemic.
“Our democracy was tested this year. And what we learned is this: The people of this nation are up to the task,” he said. “In America, we have full and fair and free elections, and then we honor the results. The people of this nation and the laws of the land won’t stand for anything else.”
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