WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — In a time of plague and raw division, President-elect Joe Biden appealed for unity Wednesday in a Thanksgiving-eve address to the nation asking Americans to “steel our spines” for a fight against the coronavirus that he predicted would continue for months.
But even as he implored Americans to join in healing and common purpose, President Donald Trump asserted that the election should be overturned, a futile call but one that stokes the divisions Biden is trying to overcome.
With COVID-19 cases surging nationwide, Biden called on Americans to take precautions to try to stem the tide of the virus, by wearing masks and practicing social distancing. He said that he himself was taking precautions around Thanksgiving and eschewing his traditional large family gathering, instead spending the holiday with just his wife, daughter and son in law.
“This is the moment when we need to steel our spines, redouble our efforts and recommit ourselves to this fight,” Biden said in remarks in Wilmington on Wednesday. “We’re all in this together.”
But Trump stoked the embers of his flailing effort to upend the election results as his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and other members of his legal team met Pennsylvania Republican state senators in Gettysburg. There, they again aired grievances about the election and repeated allegations of Democratic malfeasance that have already disintegrated under examination by courts.
Trump joined the meeting from the Oval Office, asserting: “This was an election that we won easily. We won it by a lot.” In fact the election gave Biden a clear mandate and no systemic fraud has been uncovered.
Biden’s remarks came as COVID-19 cases are surging nationwide. Hospitalizations, deaths and the testing positivity rate were also up sharply as the nation approached Thanksgiving, and public health experts have warned that the large family gatherings expected for the holiday are likely to extend and exacerbate the surge.
Biden has said turning the tide of the pandemic will be the top priority of his administration once he takes office in January, and he’s made multiple public remarks urging Americans to embrace mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines to combat the spread. The Democratic president-elect formed a coronavirus advisory board of scientists, doctors and public health experts, and he plans to establish a COVID-19 coordinator in the White House to lead his administration’s response.