US President-elect Joe Biden took the first steps on Sunday towards taking over the White House but Donald Trump showed no signs of being ready to admit defeat.
As congratulations poured in from world leaders and supporters nursed hangovers after a day of raucous celebrations, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris launched a transition website, BuildBackBetter.com, and a Twitter account.
While Trump is refusing to concede Tuesday’s election and most Republican lawmakers are adopting a studied silence, former President George W. Bush said the “outcome is clear.”
Bush, 74, the only living Republican ex-president, said he had called “President-elect” Biden and Harris to extend his “warm congratulations.”
While Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, Bush said “the American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”
“Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country,” Bush said in a statement. “We must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future.”
The transition website lists four priorities for an administration led by Barack Obama’s former vice president: Covid-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change.
“The team being assembled will meet these challenges on Day One,” it said in a reference to January 20, 2021, when Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
Biden, who turns 78 on November 20, is the oldest person ever elected to the White House. Harris, 56, the junior senator from California, is the first woman and first Black person to be elected vice president.
Biden planned to name a task force on Monday to tackle the coronavirus pandemic which has left more than 237,000 people dead in the United States and is surging across the country.
He has also announced plans to rejoin the Paris climate accord and will reportedly issue an executive order on his first day reversing Trump’s travel ban on mostly Muslim countries.
Biden has vowed to name a cabinet that reflects the diversity of the country although he may have some trouble gaining Senate approval for more progressive appointees if Republicans retain control of the Senate — an outcome that will depend on two runoff races in Georgia in January.
‘Accept the inevitable’
Biden, after John F. Kennedy just the second Catholic to be elected US president, attended church Sunday morning in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, and visited the graves of his son, Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015, and his first wife and daughter, who died in a 1972 car accident.
Trump, 74, was playing golf on Sunday at his course near Washington, the same place where he was on Saturday when the US television networks delivered the news that Biden had secured enough Electoral College votes for victory.
“Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be?” Trump complained in a tweet on Sunday.
The Trump campaign has mounted legal challenges to the results in several states but no evidence has emerged so far of any widespread irregularities that would impact the results.
Biden received nearly 74.6 million votes to Trump’s 70.4 million nationwide and has a 279-214 lead in the Electoral College that determines the presidency.
Only two Republican senators, Mitt Romney, and Lisa Murkowski have congratulated Biden and Democratic Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina said the Republican Party has a “responsibility” to help convince Trump it is time to give up.
Romney, who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial, said the president will eventually “accept the inevitable.”