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CNN Live Event/Special
Hundreds Gather Outside Biden Victory Speech Site; Source: Biden's Grandchildren Informed Him Of Win; Soon: President-Elect Biden To Deliver Victory Speech; Cities Erupt In Celebration After Biden Elected President. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 07, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: These are live pictures coming in from Wilmington, Delaware where the new President-Elect of the United States Joe Biden is getting ready to address the American people. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.
We're standing by to hear from President-Elect Biden for the first time since he sealed his election victory. All day in cities across the United States, we've seen parties erupt in the streets. Biden supporters celebrating a new chapter for this country and the beginning of the end of the chaotic presidency of Donald Trump in addition to President-Elect Biden Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will speak tonight making history as the first woman and first woman of color to hold the nation's second highest office.
Their remarks will set the tone for how they will lead this divided country after four years of political turmoil, eight months of a deadly pandemic, and over four days of suspense as we all waited to learn how this election would end? Let's go straight to our correspondents in Wilmington, Delaware first to Arlette Saenz. Arlette, so what do we expect tonight?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, when Joe Biden addresses the nation for the first time as President-Elect his speech will be one focusing on unity. His advisers say that it automatically draws from some of the major final speeches of his campaign.
One that he delivered in Gettysburg as well as Warm Springs, Georgia and this speech has been written for sometime but they have made adjustments for it as the week has progressed. But ultimately, he's going to talk about the need to come together and how he will be a President for all Americans?
Now, Joe Biden spends the majority of today at home with his family taking in this moment that they have worked for together for many, many years. In fact, it was Joe Biden's grandchildren who were the ones who informed him that he had crossed that threshold and was President-Elect.
In fact, there was a photo that was posted shortly after by his eldest granddaughter Naomi Biden that showed that moment as his family is embracing shortly after he had won this race. Now, Biden had also spent the day fielding some phone calls.
He spoke with his former boss, President Barack Obama; he also spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer two people that will be his governing partners in Washington.
And I spoke with a friend who has been in touch with Biden over the past few days and said that he has been very calm as this process has played out and also clear headed about the tasks at hand. Coronavirus, which has been a central point of his campaign over the past few months that will be a main focus in these opening weeks of the transition period.
That includes appointing a task force as he is trying to show that he is getting to work tackling this pandemic before he makes it to the White House. But tonight it is time for a celebration. Joe Biden now has been part of two history making tickets.
First, as he served as vice president alongside Barack Obama the first black man to become president and now with Kamala Harris as his vice president, the first woman and first woman of color to become vice president, and this day also holds some personal significance. It was 48 years ago today that Joe Biden first won his Senate seat here in Delaware and now 48 years later he's heading to the White House, Wolf.
BLITZER: Lots of history unfolding. Arlette Saenz in Wilmington, Delaware for us, Jeff Zeleny is also in Wilmington, Delaware for us right now. Jeff so what else has the President-Elect of the United States been doing behind the scenes? What are you learning?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Arlette was talking about the history of Joe Biden. Let me set the scene for you. We are here outside of where Arlette is. Several hundred people have gathered here spontaneously to pay tribute to really their hometown political hero.
We've talked to people have driven here from South Jersey, people who driven from across Delaware. They have watched Joe Biden throughout the course of his political career. There is no question tonight he is going to talk about that but also talk about moving forward.
Also talk about this unity message that he is going to be delivering. We know throughout the course of the day as Arlette said he was fielding phone calls from Barack Obama, from other Democratic leaders. Also just spending time with his family, taking in really what has been a tumultuous year.
If you think about it, Wolf, talking to people in the crowd tonight, we've talked to Pete Buttigieg supporters, Elizabeth Warren supporters, supporters of Amy Klobuchar and others. People were not necessarily with him from the beginning even here in Delaware but they are tonight excited about Joe Biden, excited about Kamala Harris, to witness history.
You can see behind me Wolf this major flag, giant flag the size I'm told of a basketball court has been hanging in the breeze here all week. [19:05:00]
ZELENY: It really has been waiting for this moment for Joe Biden to deliver this speech tonight. So we're told that he is going to focus not on the supporters here in this crowd but focus on those who did not vote for him. Focus on those also saying that he will be their president as well.
Looking ahead to what he hopes will be a unifying moment for this country. So again, as you can see, people have gathered. Those who are not invited guests, not in their drive-in rally, this is a walkup rally here, Wolf, and people are excited for change in the White House.
BLITZER: They certainly are. Truly historic and very exciting moment in American history, let's check in with Jake for more.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks Wolf, obviously Joe Biden has a big task ahead of him, giving this address in which he will assume the mantle of president-elect after a very hard fought battle and election night that extended all the way from Tuesday to today.
Dana Bash, let's talk about what Joe Biden has to do but before we do let's just take a look here outside the White House. You see these crowds celebrating. We've been seeing images like this from coast to coast all day of people honking their horns and waving flags. People very excited they are outside the White House.
We hope they're wearing masks obviously they're not social distancing, sufficiently again I hate to be a wet blanket but we are in the middle of a horrific pandemic that is spreading and getting even worse. So please wear masks and please avoid crowds as much as possible anyway Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of honking on our way back to the studio. I'm guessing you witnessed the same thing. Look, this is - there is a pressure valve that has been released in big cities across the country and I use the term big cities purposely, because there is an opposite feeling in some of the rural areas where President Trump gathered his 70 million votes.
But tonight that is not what we're seeing. That is not what we're hearing. We are hearing an ecstatic country, you know, the 75 million people who voted for Joe Biden. And there is a sense of relief among those people. It's like they've been waiting for four years to go out and do exactly what they're doing now.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I use the word catharsis earlier and that was before we saw these incredible images all across the country but literally as people are pouring into the streets, you're reminded that so many Americans just want politics a little bit less in their lives for a while.
TAPPER: Yes, important--
PHILLIP: You know? They want to be a little more bored by what is going on in Washington. They want to be able to not think about it every single day of their lives. And the people that you're seeing out there are people who feel aggrieved by the political system. They are the ones who feel like the system has hurt them over the last four years.
Obviously, Dana, as you said, millions, 70 plus million people feel the opposite way but this is a little bit of a representative of what the majority said and spoke with their votes. I do think Joe Biden is going to talk about that. The Democratic Party is motivated by a lot of things. Biden's voters are motivated by a lot of things.
We saw that in the exit polls split between racial justice, the Coronavirus, and the economy. So it is all of the above that Biden has to speak to tonight because not every person is out there because they absolutely love Joe Biden. Some of these people are out there because they feel like the current administration has hurt them and they would prefer anything else.
TAPPER: As I said earlier, we can tell multitudes where lots of reasons for people are out there. Some of them I'm sure support Biden policies. Some of them probably think Biden is too conservative. And they're just looking forward to A.O.C. and Bernie Sanders pushing Biden and they're looking forward to that struggle.
We also have to acknowledge that 51 percent of the country is female and has never held a position of president or vice president ever. There is an Instagram post that we were talking about earlier where it just shows the face of every single vice president up until the election, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.
Without even making a statement about it just man, man, man, man throughout the one century and then another and then finally it end on a woman says it all. I'm sure there are a lot of women and girls in the streets incredibly excited about that. A lot of people of color obviously excited about further representation.
Obviously Barack Obama was President for 8 years but it has been a rough year for a lot of people in minority communities because of the disdain many felt directly from the president. I'm sorry President Trump.
TAPPER: Let's talk right now with Pete Buttigieg the Former Democratic Presidential Candidate and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who became one of Joe Biden's strongest surrogates especially going into enemy territory on a certain other cable news channel.
Mayor Buttigieg thanks so much for joining us. Let's start with your reaction to the news today of Pennsylvania and thus the presidency being called for President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris. What was your reaction? Have you spoken to either of them?
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER MAYOR, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: Well, I'm delighted of course and you know when you think back to everything we've been through in the last four years, everything that not just politically but just as a country, this is a moment that I think allows us all to finally envision turning the page.
In my own campaign I talked a lot about inviting voters and audiences to picture that day when the sun comes up for the first time and Donald Trump is no longer president. Now we know that day will come in January and we're going to go to bed tonight with a new president- elect.
It is also I think you can't over state the significance, the historic significance of Kamala Harris becoming the first woman as well as the first woman of color of course and black woman to be in national office in this country.
You know, she carried the weight of history on to the debate stage and throughout this campaign. And the other thing that is on my mind so much is I think back to some of the times as you said I have ventured into places that maybe weren't known for being pro Democrats to make the case for this ticket is that Joe Biden has built a coalition that has included progressives and moderates and independents and a striking number of Republicans who believe in decency, believe in empathy.
And if everyone in that big tent doesn't agree on everything they agreed on this much and delivered this incredible, historic win that really does make a statement about America. And now of course we'll be looking for what it means to deliver on that mandate Joe Biden has earned.
And I'm looking forward in a few minutes to hearing him share with the nation how he seeks to make good on his campaign pledge to bring us together and to deliver an agenda? Let's also remember while certainly a progressive is supported by an American majority already.
TAPPER: So one of the premises of the Biden Campaign was vote for me. I can win back the blue wall Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We still don't know the result in Georgia officially. That is going to recount.
And Arizona we have not called yet. They are still counting ballots there. So but he did it with the blue wall. He may have expanded beyond that but he definitely did it with the blue wall. How did he do it? How did he win back those states?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think from day one he was very intentional about outreach in the Midwest about connecting via middle class voters. After all he, himself, is the product of a Pennsylvania middle class upbringing and speaking to the realities that are happening around us in our lives.
You know, one of the reasons these very same states that, put this president over the top have now been those to hand him this defeat along with what we believe is very exciting news out of the south and the sun belt.
But one of the reasons there was that change here in the Midwest was that you just can't argue looking around seeing the failed handling of the pandemic, seeing that our country became less not more saw of that it became more divided.
So many of those economic promises made to the middle class, didn't come through. Just the reality wasn't there. And while of course he retains his base I think a lot of people who voted one way last time around resonated much more with the call for decency and empathy and competence than the idea that somehow the next four years would be better than the last four years.
TAPPER: So last time I interviewed you was before the election. And I asked about whether or not you talked with anybody in the transition team or Vice President Biden or now President-Elect Biden or Kamala Harris about serving in a Biden/Harris Administration in a position maybe, you know, ahead of Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of Defense, whatever, and you as your wont deftly side stepped the question and said you were focused on electing Biden and Harris.
And I said OK. But now that focus is gone because you have succeeded in your mission and that of your compatriots so I will ask you again. Have you had any conversations with anybody about a position in the Biden cabinet and what would you like if you could serve?
BUTTIGIEG: You know, I was focused on ensuring that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected today I'm focused on celebrating that. There will be plenty of time for that to come up.
BUTTIGIEG: The answer now is the answer I've given throughout which is I am just so excited about supporting this administration. And that much I'm certain of. But right now is just such an extraordinary day and I don't want us to lose that because America made a statement tonight and this is a good day for America.
TAPPER: OK. The last time I'm letting you get away with it but I will let you get away with it this time. Pete Buttigieg thank you so much. I appreciate, say hi to Creston for us of course. Tonight Americans hear for the first time from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President- Elect and Vice President-Elect of the country as people celebrate their electoral victory from coast to coast, their popular vote victory coast to coast as well. Our special coverage continues next.
TAPPER: You're looking at images from Wilmington, Delaware tonight. President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will speak to the U.S. soon. We're going to carry that live when they do.
TAPPER: Meantime the partying goes on in multiple cities. The American people crowding the streets many of them celebrating the Biden/Harris victory sharing their excitement and in many cases sheer relief.
Let's go to Vivian Salama at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. It was not long ago, Vivian that protesters there, Black Lives Matter protesters were being gassed by the park service. So as to clear a path for President Trump to have a photo op in front of the church now it's being used as a place of celebration.
VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it is extraordinary when you compare what was taking place in this exact same spot over the summer versus what is happening now. Obviously a lot of tension, protesters being gassed as you said and the president making a march across eight street right behind me during the summer to make a photo op.
Today it is a scene of mass celebration. We've seen an evolution of this protest or this demonstration since the morning. A lot of families were here earlier today. We saw children coming out with pro Biden slogans and families just wanting to take part in this historic moment.
Now as you can hear and see it is becoming more of a party atmosphere. There's drums and music blaring in the background. There have been people have been dancing all over the plaza celebrating what's been happening.
I can't even count the number of times we saw folks popping bottles of champagne, sometimes they drank it, sometimes they shared and sometimes they sprayed it on each other. And other people just doing, celebrating in their own different ways lots of dancing and singing going on.
And just a very, like, upbeat and happy atmosphere here. It's really interesting because I was just chatting with a couple D.C. Metro Cops who have been here and we definitely see an increase in the security presence tonight.
It's been increasing as we get closer and closer to the evening time but they tell me it is just a precaution. So far, these demonstrations and these celebrations have been largely peaceful. We haven't seen any incidents so far and we've been here all day.
The police are just here to make sure that we keep the peace and everybody has a good time and has their right to celebrate. One other thing though Jake we should say is that, we walked around to souvenir shops around this area outside the White House and one thing missing is Maga shirts.
We have noticed that in several shops they've pulled their Maga shirts and hats and different paraphernalia for the president and they're only selling Biden t-shirts right now.
TAPPER: All right. The White House is I believe in the White House is in the distance there behind you and obviously a lot of people wearing masks it seems. Again, not to be the scold but we are in the middle of a pandemic and it is not the safest thing in the world for groups to gather but it is good to see people wearing masks.
Vivian thank you so much. Let's check in Atlanta, Georgia, where we find Gary Tuchman. Gary, tell us about the celebrations where you are?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, in this urban neighborhood in the deep south it is a day and now a night of jubilation after CNN issued its projection for the State of Pennsylvania saying that Joe Biden was the President-Elect people started pouring out in this neighborhood.
This is midtown Atlanta. When you look at the results of this election in the State of Georgia ultimately if Joe Biden ends up winning here in the State of Georgia a lot of it will be because of neighborhoods like this. This is very politically liberal but always has been extremely vibrant neighborhood but during COVID not surprisingly it's been very quiet.
Not anymore, after - people started coming out. At one point before the sun came down there were probably a few thousand people in the streets here and a lot of people, there were people from all over the city. All over the suburbs who decided to come once they saw it on TV and heard the celebration was going on.
It was old people in wheelchairs, it was families and it was children. Most of the children and most of the older people have now left. The celebration, combination of a celebration and rally for social justice and civil rights but people here are very excited and a lot of people tell me that they didn't expect this to happen.
They didn't think Joe Biden would win but they thought Donald Trump would get another four years. Two points of concern that you mentioned is Jake and it is very important to point out there is no social distancing here. There are, most people wearing masks.
But as the night is going on and the champagne and the wine and the beer is starting to come out some of those masks have started slipping off as you can see. So that is not particularly cool but I'm not surprised. I've been at a lot of Trump rallies and I have seen the same thing.
The other thing when this rally started cars were coming up and down here and a lot of close calls that afraid people would get hit. That didn't happen but ultimately they've decided to close up the street. There is no traffic right here in Midtown Atlanta as the celebration continues, Jake, back to you.
TAPPER: All right, thanks Gary Tuchman. I wish those people without masks would put masks on. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Let's go to Polo Sandoval who is in Times Square, New York, where there are also celebrations. Polo, tell us what you're seeing?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jake, we should mention tonight New York certainly feels like New York especially - at least just this one night. We should also mention that here there is very little to no social distancing but there are plenty of masks.
You can just take in the sights and sounds of Times Square tonight. I've been here already for about seven hours and this crowd just continues to grow since those projections were issued. Down Broadway I've seen everything from champagne getting uncorked, pop up parades from cycles, cars and trucks making their way down Broadway.
The NYPD temporarily shut down this street earlier as people were dancing in the streets but probably about an hour, hour and a half ago they finally opened it up to traffic so right now authorities are really making sure that those streets are cleared pedestrians.
But boy it is a challenge when we have this massive sea of people. I have to tell you Jake, what we're seeing here is that they are all celebrating what they consider this victory as a sign that the nation is perhaps taking a turn toward unity. Just in the last couple hours I've spoken to a couple folks who they said - issue the main thing is going to be the Coronavirus and the next administration's handling of it.
They are very hopeful Jake as we wrap things up here in Times Square that hopefully that the next administration according to them will begin to take a closer look at trying to actually manage this situation because they feel the Trump Administration of course has not done a very good job especially when we look at those numbers. But for tonight it certainly is a massive celebration here in Times Square.
TAPPER: Joe Biden, winning is not going to get rid of the Coronavirus especially people continuing to gather especially without masks. We are minutes away from President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President- Elect Kamala Harris addressing the nation on the night of their historic election victory. Stay with us. Our special coverage continues right after this.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Take a look at what we have been witnessing for several hours now in cities across the country. Washington D.C., Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York's Times Square, Chicago, crowds in the streets dancing celebrating across the country, cities large and small.
There are a lot of people obviously not celebrating tonight who are supporters of President Trump. Tonight, Joe Biden who will be speaking in about 30 minutes no doubt will try to reach out to them as well as to his own supporters. I want to talk with our panel here about what we may expect in this speech in the next 30 minutes or so -- Gloria.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's not going to be a surprise to any of us what we're going to hear. It is because Joe Biden that we've been hearing is the authentic Joe Biden that you're going to hear tonight. He believes from the bottom of his heart that reaching out is the way to go.
And one story I heard over and over again about Joe Biden is that after his wife and young daughter died in the car crash and he had just been elected to the Senate, he believes that the senators saved him and that he would not have survived if it weren't for some of those Senate bulls, Republicans, as well as Democrats, so he has never forgotten it.
He's an institutionalist. So you're going to hear an affirmation of the democratic institutions that he holds dear and are reaching out, and it's not going to be a surprise.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the fact that it is not a surprise speaks to one of the strengths of his candidacy, it has been consistent. I mean, he started off by talking about the soul of America and reclaiming the soul of America, and talked about ending these divisions and coming together as a people. That has been the message he has carried forward.
It was challenged in the primaries where there is such a strong sense of combat with the Republicans and you know, working together was not always a popular idea with some in his own party, but he was consistent and when the big match came with Trump, the contrast really powered his candidacy.
So yes, he is not inventing anything new here, we're going to hear -- we're going to hear the same message.
Can I just say one thing about the scenes? There is something awesome about the power of people in a democracy, grabbing the wheel of history and turning it and that is what we're seeing here.
You know, there has been all kinds of questions over the last four years about who the President is accountable to and so on. Well, ultimately, everyone in public life is accountable to people in a democracy.
And today, the people spoke and they are out now and celebrating the fact that they had that opportunity and I think it is worth celebrating.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think a couple of things. One is, half the country are going to be listening to Joe Biden for the first time, not as somebody they are just trying to beat, and so he has got a different audience. He's got a different shot with those people. They're going to have their antenna up for anything that seems like he is going to be against him or whatever.
He has got a big job on that side of the speech, but he has also got his own base, and we are waiting to see -- do you love us? Do you like us? Are you going to do anything for us? Are you going to help us?
And so you've got to see already how he is going to manage that.
COOPER: By the way, we should also point out. The CNN reporting has been that this is a speech that has been written for some time. But obviously, adjustments have been made based on what has been going on last --
JONES: I mean, I think people -- I think people are going to pay attention to this speech differently than a campaign speech because the campaign is over. He is really about to govern. Of course, we had a couple of little fall starts last night and the night before.
If we do get a chance to hear from Kamala Harris at some point, it would be wonderful. I'm going to be trying to see, are they dividing and conquering? Are you beginning to see -- is Kamala going to speak to the base versus Biden speak to -- or are they going to have basically -- be on the same accord. They have kind of been on the same accord. Is it going to be any of that kind of stuff?
But for a lot of people, the Kamala speech is going to be more emotional. For a lot of people, the Kamala speech because she is the first woman, first person of color, first woman of color, first Indian -- first, first, first, first, first, first, you're going to have a lot of people, it's going to mean something to them. They are going to remember it a lot longer hearing her speaking for the first time with that achievement under her belt.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, like Van said, this would be the first time that half the country is going to be listening. The problem is, half the country is not going to be listening. Because I'd say, I don't know how much, I don't know where we are -- taking any poll -- but a big chunk of the public still thinks this election isn't over yet. And I know that you know, he has been declared a winner, but as we all know, being declared a winner is not being certified as the winner.
And, so until that happens, I think there's a lot of Republicans who would just see this as just another step in the campaign. And that you know, there are three states, they think they can win North Carolina. There are three states they think that they're in range of getting that narrowed enough that maybe, you know, going to court can make a difference. And that's where their heads are.
I do agree that there are a lot of Republicans who have resigned that this is over and accepted this and it's important for Biden to talk to the rest of the country and might, you know, soothe a little bit of the pain of the loss of Trump.
COOPER: We are standing by here to listen from President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at any moment. They are about to address the nation from Wilmington, Delaware hours after winning this historic election.
Our special coverage continues next.
BLITZER: Live pictures coming in from Wilmington, Delaware, Joseph R. Biden Jr. is about to speak to the nation and indeed the world for the first time as President-elect of the United States.
I'm Wolf Blitzer with our special coverage. We're standing by to hear from the President-elect and from the Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Wilmington, Delaware just moments from now.
They will speak as celebrations are continuing into the night in many U.S. cities right now at this truly historic turning point for the country. President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will give the victory speeches they have been waiting to give for over four days as the election was being decided.
Let's go back to our correspondents in Wilmington. First, Arlette Saenz. So Arlette, you're getting some more information about what we might be hearing from the President-elect of the United States today.
SAENZ: Well, Wolf, Joe Biden will be here in just a short while. As you can see behind me, the setup here is one of those drive-in rally type of events that really became a campaign staple for Joe Biden during the coronavirus pandemic and the former Vice President, now the President-elect is expected to really talk about unity and moving forward together as a country.
This is a speech that is going to draw from some of his previous major speeches in Gettysburg and Warm Springs, Georgia as he tries to urge Americans to come together and argues that he will be a President for all Americans.
Now, over the course of the day, Biden has been speaking to people over the phone. He spoke with President Obama, as well as Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, two people who will be his governing partners in Washington, and pretty soon, he is going to get to work on that transition, focusing on the tasks at hand including the coronavirus pandemic.
But tonight is really a moment for celebration. His running mate, Kamala Harris is becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to become Vice President. She will speak right before Joe Biden.
And this is really the culmination of a year and a half of campaigning for Joe Biden, and I have to tell you, I've covered this campaign from the very first day and I have seen the highs and the lows of this campaign.
And one thing that has been remarkable with Joe Biden is he has been consistent in his messaging and his strategy, even after those dismal losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, his campaign said, "Wait until you get to South Carolina and that's when things will turn around." And that is exactly what happened.
And you've seen that strategy play out over the course of the past few days. They said, continue counting the votes and Joe Biden will become President. It took a little bit longer than they had hoped. But he is now President-elect, and I also just want to talk about the personal significance that today has for Joe Biden and his family.
They have endured so many tragedies and losses and gotten it through together as this family. We know that Bo Biden is looming large over this event as Joe Biden now decades in the making has now become President-elect -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, indeed, that is all true. Arlette, thank you very much. They are celebrating in Wilmington, Delaware. Jeff Zeleny is joining us right now, Jeff, I know you're working your sources. I assumed the Vice President-elect will also speak tonight. We'll also hear from Senator -- from the Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Wolf, we will indeed. Senator Harris will actually be speaking before President-elect Joe Biden. She will be introducing him and also really giving a sense of what her presence on this ticket will be.
And we should note, Wolf, I am walking among the crowd here in Wilmington, and I can tell you I'm struck by the families, the mothers and young daughters, the fathers and young sons here for the history of Joe Biden, for sure, but also here for the history of Kamala Harris.
I have seen some so many young girls and young boys watching this with great anticipation. And Wolf, I think we should also take stock of this here in Wilmington, just the trajectory of Joe Biden's own career has spanned the racial progress in this country, elected 48 years ago on this very day. He was serving alongside segregationist senators. He was on a different side of the busing debate.
He had an evolution on race, of course, that led to him becoming the Vice President for Barack Obama, the nation's first African-American President, and now, at his side tonight will be the first woman Vice President, a heartbeat away from the presidency, a woman of color indeed, and Wolf, that is what is exciting and on the minds of these young girls, and young boys and families I see out here tonight, just outside the speech perimeter here in Wilmington -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's also true, Jeff that world leaders have been congratulating the President-elect right now even though the current President still has not conceded.
ZELENY: Wolf, it is extraordinary. We have seen the steady stream of congratulatory messages from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on down the list along with of course, Joe Biden is someone who has a long relationship with so many world leaders from his time, as you know, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he first served alongside a young Senator Barack Obama.
So of course, his time as Vice President of the United States where a big role he had was, you know, traveling around the world. So, so many we heard church bells ringing in Paris. We saw fireworks in London.
This is indeed a moment the world is watching and he has heard more from world leaders than he has from the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump and Wolf, now I can tell you the motorcade is coming for Senator Kamala Harris, Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris. She is arriving here in Wilmington and she, of course will be speaking first tonight and she will be introducing President-elect Joe Biden -- Wolf.
BLITZER: This is the motorcade for the Vice President-elect, the Secret Service has really beefed up in security presence for both the Vice President-elect and the President-elect in Wilmington, Delaware, which is the normal tradition once an election has been decided and determined, the Secret Service beefs up security for the President- elect and the Vice President-elect. Jeff Zeleny, one of the most important things I think that he has
decided to do within the next few days is name a Coronavirus Taskforce to deal with this crisis, which is continuing in record numbers more than 120,000 Americans yesterday were diagnosed with the virus, 1,100, maybe 1,200 Americans died from the virus just yesterday. Tell us about that decision to go forward and put together this Taskforce?
ZELENY: Wolf, this is going to be the central mission, the first mission of the Biden administration in transition. I'm told there will be an announcement on Monday of a Coronavirus Taskforce, 12 members will be on the Taskforce.
It is going to be led by Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former Surgeon General from the Obama administration. He has been one of the key advisers to the Biden campaign, has talked with former Vice President Joe Biden virtually every day, sometimes more than that, updating him on the coronavirus, just the situation here in the country.
So I'm told on Monday that is going to be the first matter of business long before any announcements are made about who will his nominees be for Secretary of State or Defense. That is what a normal transition is, announcing these top Cabinet posts. Not this time.
The challenge facing Joe Biden and he knows is coronavirus. That's why after this speech tonight, Wolf, the hard work begins tackling that. Of course, we should point out, it is one thing we have not seen from the Trump administration, the Coronavirus Taskforce has indeed not been present or indeed activated for days or weeks.
So this is something we are going to see during the transition, trying to not only draw a contrast as we saw during the campaign, but it is substance. You'll see briefings from this Biden transition going forward on coronavirus.
BLITZER: So, so important. All right, Jeff Zeleny in Wilmington, Delaware for us where they are celebrating already.
Anderson, over to you.
COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much. We're looking at the scene at where the President-elect, I still want to call him Vice President -- President-elect Biden will be speaking very shortly, we anticipate in about 10 minutes or so.
This is probably, David, we are just talking about this, probably the largest crowd we have seen that President-elect Biden will be -- has spoken to.
AXELROD: Yes. Gloria and I were talking about the speech he gave at -- when he won -- when he was the big winner on Super Tuesday, and it was this kind of spectral affair. I mean, there was nobody around.
COOPER: Yes. AXELROD: And ever since then, it's been really, really limited.
Without a doubt this is the most, the largest crowd he'll have spoken to and it's done in the Biden-esque way.
BORGER: I guarantee you, he won't be near them.
AXELROD: COVID. Yes.
COOPER: Do you think we'll be hearing from Vice President-elect Harris?
AXELROD: I think that was the plan. I think they said that she was going to introduce him, and I hope so. I really hope so because --
JONES: She is introducing him.
AXELROD: You know, I remember if I can, just a story, a teacher called me when Barack Obama was running for President, a teacher in the inner city in Chicago, and he said he is teaching history and he showed pictures of all the Presidents and one of the kids would drawl, "Why are they all white? Why are they all --" and he said, I told him, well, that's true. But you know, we -- our Senator might -- is running. He could be President.
They were incredulous and the impact that that had on so many young people, and think of all the girls around this country who are going to look at themselves differently tonight, as they watch Kamala Harris up there, as the Vice President-elect.
COOPER: It's also just so interesting looking at these pictures. It is sort of -- just the juxtaposition to, you know, crowds not wearing masks at events that we have seen, you know, during the campaign with President Trump, and to see people, you know, wearing masks outside, clearly, some are not social distancing, they are kind of outside the perimeter of where the people who were there to, I guess, were invited there.
But it's just an interesting way of sort of bridging, trying to get people there, but at the same time, trying to enforce some sort of -- yes.
JONES: It's interesting, but it's like, you've got the mask versus the MAGA hats. You know, I mean, it's almost like for us, the masks are a part of signaling that we kind of, you know, get the significance of it. And, obviously, of both Kamala and Biden are serious about the mask.
There's one thing that you may have missed that one of the women with the mask on she was being very enthusiastic she had AKA -- AKA on her shirt. She is Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority that is Kamala Harris's sorority, also my mother and my sister's sorority.
The Greek letter system is very important in the black community so that you have the Deltas and the AKAs and others, Zetas. So, what Kamala did singularly within the black community, she got -- she united the Divine Nine, all nine Greek letter organizations supported her. And so this is a special pride that African-American fraternities and sororities have in her achievement, and I won't be surprised if you see a bunch more Greek letters if you watch.
BORGER: This is a speech that Joe Biden has been waiting to give for probably half a century.
JONES: Oh, yes. At least.
BORGER: Well, he was thinking about being President when he was a junior senator and everybody saw him as a potential President. That never worked out for him.
COOPER: Hopefully, he has updated any reference to time or years.
BORGER: But he did. He was -- when he was a newcomer in the Senate and David and I have spoken about this, he was the one people thought of as the new Kennedy, and when he ran in '88, it didn't work. When he ran in 2008, there was a fellow named Barack Obama, who ended up besting him. He decided he wasn't going to run in 2016. Hillary Clinton was already there and his son, Beau had just died.
He has been thinking about being President for a very long time.
AXELROD: But I'm sure he wasn't thinking about being President under these circumstances.
BORGER: Of course not.
AXELROD: Or at this stage in his life. You know, we all say, you know, everybody said, you know, Rick, served in a body where everybody looked in the mirror and saw a future President, so he knows this. Everybody thinks of it as an incredible benefit to the person who takes the job.
It is an unbelievably difficult job. The burdens of the world are resting on Joe Biden's shoulders tonight and he understood the pressures of that more than anyone else, and he raised his hand and said, I'm going to do this anyway.
And he and his family are going -- it is a great honor to be in the White House. But it's also a great sacrifice, and he -- you know, he wants to serve. He has spent his life serving. He wants to serve now and --
JONES: We need him now.
AXELROD: You know, so it's not just about his own -- realizing his life dream because he knows very well what comes along with him.
BORGER: You know, after his son Beau died, his family was sort of worried and Beau was worried before he died, I was told about what would happen to his father after his death. And he kept talking to him and he has written about it in his autobiography, obviously, about finding a purpose. He talks about that all the time. I think Anderson who spoke with you about it at his Town Hall with him, and I think he found his purpose.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, in this time, when, you know, more than 200,000 Americans have died so far in the pandemic, the estimates, by February 1st, as many as 400,000 Americans may be dead, in total from the pandemic.
And I think it's going to be a really interesting thing, certainly a salve to those who have lost loved ones and those who are experiencing grief and who will be experiencing grief to have a President who is comfortable speaking the language of loss and not -- you know, grief is a difficult thing to talk about. Loss is a hard thing for people to talk about. It makes people uncomfortable -- to have a President who is able to have those conversations on both in a public sense and also sometimes in a very private sense, I just think it'll just be a big change. I'm not saying it is better or worse, it'll just be a big --
AXELROD: Incredible -- you know, we were at an event in New Hampshire, but you know, his campaign events, and wherever he goes, people know that, and they come and they come to talk to him, not just to listen to him speak, but afterwards, to line up and share their story.
And he'll give them his phone number and they probably will discourage that now. But he can -- that is a -- this is his moment. The other times were not his moment, but he has that combination of qualities that matches this moment, when there is so much suffering and so much concern in the country.
JONES: I think that, you know, we're blessed. We're just blessed as a country that we have a guy like that that can step up like that. You need a consoler in chief. You need you need somebody who can do that, because there's so much pain in the country and so much fear on both sides, all races, you know, you need that.
You also need somebody who knows how to make a deal, knows how to reach out. It's just amazing, the genius of American democracy, that we sometimes get exactly the right person at the right time. Maybe four years ago, we need somebody to shake up the soda bottle. Certainly, you know, in the Democratic Party, we had Bernie Sanders shaking up the soda bottle. So maybe that was needed then. But you need somebody now that can calm it down.
COOPER: But also, it's the interesting thing about Americans and the American system is that, you know, like a ship that tacks left, that tacks right, it moves forward, you know, and it adjusts as it goes, and the American people are incredibly savvy and genuine and they come out and they vote, you know, Joe Biden gets to be President, but he doesn't get to have the Senate. Right?
You know, we'll see what happens in Georgia but, you know, Republicans gain in the House. And so, you know, maybe Americans would send a message to -- them saying that they want Joe Biden as the President in this moment. But you know, what, they don't want all the stuff that that Democrats are talking about. And so for their local people, they pick other.
And I just think that's -- there's a genius to the American system, and not that it's perfect in any way. But you know, it does. This country tacks left and it tacks right, and the ship moves forward. Even if it's -- you know, the waters have been choppy.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's pretty consistent they voted for a divided government now for a while. And you know, that's -- we're probably -- again, we can't know what the Georgia Senate races will be. And so, we are probably going to be in a divided government. And can Joe Biden compromise?
And I know he can. I have no doubt because I've worked with Joe Biden, he can compromise. I mean, Joe knows how to compromise on things as -- will he have -- will he feel the freedom to do that? And I think -- look, I feel a sense of optimism that, again, I could be wrong about this, that Joe probably is maybe thinking I'm going to serve one term, and that I can go out there and make the deals that are necessary to move it along.
And one of the things that you have to do when you compromise is you have to give some things that the other side wants as well as things you want. And that's always hard to do. Because if you do that, then the folks on your base get really upset.
COOPER: And the same is true for the Republicans.
SANTORUM: I am not talking about the base, I am just saying, we are hoping -- so can he make good deals that can bring people together? That, in this environment, it has proven to be hard over the last 12 years to do that.
COOPER: Well, there's also the competing incentives, you know, that each side can have which is, well, actually, you know, yes, it may be good for the country to compromise, but it's not good for our party to compromise.