WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday called for unity and healing in a deeply divided nation, hours after electors across the country certified his Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump.
"The integrity of our elections remains intact," said Biden. "Now it is time to turn the page, to unite, to heal."
Biden won 306 electoral votes Monday, the same number that Trump won in 2016.
"By [Trump's] own standards these numbers represented a clear victory then, and I respectfully suggest they do so now," Biden said t a Wilmington, Delaware, theater.
Biden hailed the record turnout of this year's election, in which 155 million voters cast ballots by mail and in person, despite the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
"The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic — or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame," he said.
Biden also praised local officials and election workers, many of whom risked their health, and in some cases, their personal safety, to administer the election and count the millions of votes.
"We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude," he said. "They didn't seek the spotlight. Yet our democracy survived because of them. Proof, once more, that it's everyday Americans, infused with honor, character and decency, that are the heart of the nation."
But Biden's initially upbeat tone shifted dramatically when he addressed Trump's unprecedented legal and legislative efforts to overturn the election results this year.
In particular, Biden took aim at a hail Mary lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court by the Texas attorney general, seeking to disqualify tens of millions of votes in four swing states where Biden won the popular vote.
Biden said the claims made in the lawsuit represented "a position so extreme we have never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the rule of the people, refused to respect the rule of law and refused to honor our Constitution."
"Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort," Biden said. "The court sent a clear signal to President Trump that they would be no part of an unprecedented assault on democracy."
The president, his campaign and his political allies have filed dozens of lawsuits since Election Day, asking federal and state courts to nullify the election results based on unsubstantiated claims of irregularities.
As those efforts failed one by one, Trump also began to personally pressure Republican state legislators to intervene in the selection of individual electors. But Monday's Electoral College vote marked a failed end to that gambit, as well.
State and local officials knew the election "was honest. It was free and it was fair," said Biden. "They saw it with their own eyes, and they wouldn't be bullied into saying anything different."
Following Biden's Electoral College victory Monday, a number of Republican senators formally acknowledged him as the president-elect, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana and Roy Blunt of Missouri.
Neither Trump nor the Trump presidential campaign immediately responded to the Electoral College results on Monday evening. The president has vowed to "fight on," however, although after Monday's certified electoral vote, it was unclear what there was left for Trump to contest.