From the last few days to the previous few hours, the two candidates’ differences could not be more apparent. This is what they’ve been saying, in their own words, on the same topics.
On ballot counting
Today, Donald Trump convened a press conference and led with, “If you count the legal votes, I easily win.” This was just hours after tweeting, “STOP THE COUNT”
Joe Biden, speaking from Delaware earlier in the day urged calm and trust in the process. “We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners,” he said.
Yesterday, Trump filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to stop vote counting. At the time, he was clearly in the lead, but vote counting had not yet been counted. In Georgia, where he was also tracking ahead, a similar lawsuit was filed. The suit in Georgia alleged that a witness had said that late-arriving ballots had not been properly stored and may have been mixed in with timely ballots. Judges have dismissed the cases.
On the same day at a news conference in Wilmington, Biden said, “Now, every vote must be counted.”
On the other side
“Why do you keep talking about Democrat states?” During a town hall held in September, George Stephanopoulos asked Donald Trump about his comments bashing blue states as being most hit hard by the pandemic. “They’re American states.”
“No,” Trump replied. “The Democrat-run states are the ones that are doing badly, George.”
At his last campaign rally in Ohio, Joe Biden said, “I’m proud of the coalition this campaign has built. We welcome Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.”
On Dr. Fauci
On Halloween, Dr. Anthony Fauci offered a blunt assessment of a Covid-19 surge. “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” he noted. Biden’s campaign, Dr. Fauci said, “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective” while Trump is looking at it from the perspective of “the economy and reopening the country.”
Trump was none too pleased, and neither were his supporters at a November 2nd rally. Amid shouts from the audience to “Fire Fauci,” he responded, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.”
On the same day at a rally in Cleveland, Biden countered with “Elect me, and I’m going to hire Dr.Fauci.”
On the Inauguration
During the final presidential debate on October 22nd, moderator Kristen Welker noted the ever-present division as asked both candidates to imagine their speech on the morning of their first day on the job. Something meant to unite Americans.
Her question was simple:
“Imagine this is your inauguration day. What will you say in your address to Americans who did not vote for you?”
Trump answered first. “We have to make our country totally successful, as it was prior to the plague coming in from China. Now we’re rebuilding it, and we’re doing record numbers, 11.4 million jobs in a short period of time, et cetera. But, I will tell you, go back,” he said.
“Before the plague came in, just before, I was getting calls from people that were not normally people that would call me. They wanted to get together. We had the best Black unemployment numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic, women, Asian, people with diplomas, with no diplomas, MIT graduates; number one in the class, everybody had the best numbers. And you know what? The other side wanted to get together. They wanted to unify.”
He closed with this statement intended to huddle the masses at the National Mall on day one: “Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success. But I’m cutting taxes, and he [Biden] wants to raise everybody’s taxes, and he wants to put new regulations on everything. He will kill it. If he gets in, you will have a Depression, the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell, and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.”
So inspiring. So uplifting.
Welker repeated the question. “Vice President Biden, same question to you: what will you say during your inaugural address to Americans who did not vote for you?”
Biden responded, “I will say, I’m an American President. I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me, and I’m going to make sure that you’re represented. I’m going to give you hope. We’re going to move; we’re going to choose science over fiction. We’re going to choose hope over fear. We’re going to choose to move forward because we have enormous opportunities, enormous opportunities to make things better.”
“We can grow this economy, we can deal with the systemic racism,” he continued. “At the same time, we can make sure that our economy is being run and moved and motivated by clean energy, creating millions of new jobs. That’s the fact, that’s what we’re going to do. And I’m going to say, as I said at the beginning, what is on the ballot here is the character of this country. Decency, honor, respect. Treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance. And I’m going to make sure you get that. You haven’t been getting it the last four years.”
It’s hard to imagine immediate citizen camaraderie from a few statements near the Washington Monument at the Inauguration. A few words won’t have us all standing with locked arms, even if we didn’t have to social distance. A few words won’t break down the division and polarity. A few words won’t make us all want to buy a Coke for the other side.
But a few words are a start.