In remarks in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday afternoon, Biden weighed in on Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential race, denouncing the president’s actions and suggesting that Americans are “ready to unite.”
“Well, I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” Biden said of Trump’s insistence that he won the race. “The only thing that — how can I say this tactfully? — I think it will not help the president’s legacy.”
Biden chose his words carefully, noting several times in his exchange with reporters that “there’s only one president at a time.” But he also maintained that “nothing’s going to stop” the transition effort as he moves forward with selecting Cabinet nominees and take other steps in the next two months.
“I’m confident that the fact that they’re not willing to acknowledge we won at this point is not of much consequence in our planning and what we’re able to do between now and January 20th,” Biden said. He added that he hopes to “be in a position to let people know at least a couple [Cabinet members] that we want before Thanksgiving.”
The president-elect referred to his conversations with a half-dozen world leaders since the race was called in his favor Saturday. He said those leaders “are hopeful that the United States’ democratic institutions are viewed once again as being strong and enduring.”
Biden played down concerns about the transition team’s current lack of access to classified information, telling reporters, “It would be nice to have it, but it’s not critical” and noting that “I’m not in a position to make any decisions on those issues anyway.”
He said he looks forward to speaking to both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at some point, and he declined to specifically criticize McConnell for refusing to acknowledge his win.
“I think that the whole Republican Party has been put in a position — with a few notable exceptions — of being mildly intimidated by the sitting president,” Biden said.
Biden also pushed back against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement earlier Tuesday that there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.
“So far, there is no evidence of any of the assertions made by the president or Secretary of State Pompeo,” Biden said. Then he laughingly repeated: “Secretary of State Pompeo.”
Ultimately, Biden said, “it’s all going to come to fruition on January 20th, and between now and then, my hope and expectation is that the American people do know, do understand that there has been a transition — even among Republicans who are people who voted for the president."
“I understand the sense of loss,” Biden said. “I get that. But I think the majority of the people who voted for the president … I think they understand that we have to come together. I think they’re ready to unite. And I believe we can pull the country out of this bitter politics that we’ve seen for the last the last five, six, seven years.”
As the news conference concluded, a reporter asked one final question: How do you expect to work with Republicans if they won’t even acknowledge you as president-elect?
“They will,” Biden responded with a smile. “They will.”