President-elect Joe Biden urged unity Saturday and promised "a new day for America" in his first national address since he won the tense US election and ended the historically turbulent and divisive era of Donald Trump.
After jogging onto the outdoor stage to the music of Bruce Springsteen in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden delivered a message of hope and healing to a crowd of cheering supporters and tens of millions more on television.
The Democrat's victory speech followed a desperately bitter election conducted in the midst of a raging coronavirus pandemic. But instead of sounding triumphant, Biden's accent was more on changing hearts in a country split down the middle between Democrats and Republicans.
Promising "not to divide but to unify", Biden reached out directly to Trump supporters, declaring "they're not our enemies, they're Americans".
"Let's give each other a chance," he said, urging the country to "lower the temperature". He went to say, "Let this grim era of demonisation in America begin to end, here and now."
Casting his eye further, Biden said he would "make America respected around the world again" – a reference to Trump's tearing up of traditional diplomatic ties.
"Tonight, the whole world is watching America and I believe that at our best America is a beacon for the globe," he said.
Addressing the coronavirus, which has killed more than 237,000 Americans under Trump's erratic leadership, Biden said he would form a task force of "leading scientists" this Monday.
Fireworks, Springsteen and Tina Turner
While attendance was limited for social-distancing purposes to about 360 cars at the drive-in style event, crowds numbering thousands of people, many of them dancing and waving American flags, lined the highway leading to the facility.
This was Biden's first public appearance since US television networks declared earlier Saturday that he'd taken an insurmountable lead in the nearly complete count from Tuesday's election, giving him victory against Trump, who will now become a rare one-term president.
The celebratory event, which featured confetti, fireworks and a soundtrack including Springsteen and Tina Turner, also gave Americans a closer look at Biden's running mate Kamala Harris, who will make history as the country's first female and first Black vice president.
In her speech, cheered every few seconds by the ecstatic crowd, Harris lauded the record turnout and said that after so much division, "Joe is a healer."
"When our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America," she said.
Biden, who turns 78 later this month, will be the oldest person to become president when he takes office on January 20.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)