WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden called Wednesday for the restoration of “simple decency” as a mob incited by his predecessor stormed the U.S. Capitol and delayed Congress from certifying the results of November’s election.
Biden had planned to deliver a speech focused on how to revive the economy and provide financial relief for small-business owners reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, giving routine political remarks from a theater in his native Delaware.
But shortly before he was to begin speaking, demonstrators broke into the Capitol building, reaching as far as the Senate floor.
“Our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times,” Biden said adding that the violent and chaotic events were “an assault on the rule of law.”
The Capitol building was locked down and police moved in with guns drawn as Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers were evacuated to secure locations.
National Guard troops were deployed and a citywide curfew called for shortly after dusk, as rioters continued to occupy the seat of Congress for hours.“I call on this mob to pull back and allow democracy to go forward,” said the president-elect.
In an address that took only about 10 minutes and was televised against a split screen of the still-occupied Capitol building, Biden attempted to project calm and to say that a deeply divided country can still come together.
He returned to themes that were a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, including finding common political ground, and pledged to be president for all Americans, even those who didn’t vote for him.