Biden joins Senate battle as top Republican accepts victory

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Atlanta (AFP)

President-elect Joe Biden weighed in on the Democratic battle for control of the US Senate on Tuesday, as his White House victory was finally recognized by leading Republicans and resistant foreign leaders.

Biden flew to Georgia – a southern state he won in anger at President Donald Trump – to stage a rally for two Democratic candidates in second-round races that will determine the Senate’s balance of power .

“Honk for your next US Senators Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock,” Biden told the crowd at the drive-through in Atlanta – urging voters to surrender in force on Jan.5.

“Send those two men to me, and we’ll control the Senate!” ”

A day after the Electoral College confirmed Biden’s victory, attention turned to the looming Senate battle – and the shape of the new administration, with U.S. media reporting that Biden would call on Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of Indiana and presidential rival, as secretary of transportation.

Buttigieg is reportedly the first openly gay person Senate confirmed to a presidential cabinet post – in line with Biden’s pledge to inaugurate the most diverse cabinet of all time when he takes office on January 20.

And while Trump still refuses to concede – continuing to tweet allegations of mass fraud that have been dismissed in dozens of lawsuits – Senate Republican Mitch McConnell finally broke his silence with a message to the President: it is finished.

“The Electoral College has spoken. So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden, ”McConnell told the Senate, adding that Americans can also“ be proud ”to have their first vice president in Kamala Harris.

Biden told reporters before flying to Georgia that he had a “good” phone conversation with McConnell, a longtime colleague in the Senate.

“I told him that while we disagree on a lot of things, there are things we can work on together,” Biden said.

The confirmation of the electoral college triggered recognition of Biden’s victory by Russian President Vladimir Putin who said he was “ready for collaboration” with the Democrat.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Mexican Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador – who had both waited until now to recognize the president-elect – also sent their congratulations.

– ‘Turn the page’ –

Trump, in an unprecedented way, has yet to acknowledge his defeat in the chaotic election that will see him leave the White House after just one four-year term.

But Biden urged the divided country to “turn the page” in welcoming the electoral college vote on Monday, saying America’s democracy has been “resilient” to Trump’s “abuse of power.”

He praised voters for voting in record numbers despite fears of Covid-19 and “enormous political pressure, verbal slurs and even threats of physical violence.”

The transition to the White House is happening with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, pushing American Covid-19 deaths above 300,000.

As critical winter months loom, a bright spot has emerged with healthcare workers receiving the first doses of coronavirus vaccine distributed across the country.

And with infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci recommending that Biden and Harris take the vaccine quickly, the president-elect said they would receive the vaccine in public view.

– Minds on Georgia –

Although the door has virtually closed on his efforts to reverse the results of the vote, Trump remained defiant, insisting in a series of tweets that he had won a “landslide victory” and that there was still ” huge problems ”with the vote.

In a threatening move against Republican leaders in Georgia, where he made unsubstantiated allegations of massive electoral fraud, he retweeted a pro-Trump lawyer who posted a photo of Georgia’s governor and secretary of state, claiming that ‘”They will soon go to jail. ”

Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, must reverse Georgia’s two Senate seats in order to gain control of the upper house, while Republicans must hold only one to maintain their majority.

Republicans have presented Georgia as a must-see race, with the state being the last line of defense against what they call radical “socialism.”

If Republicans do, McConnell remains the majority leader, and his relationship with Biden will quickly become the most watched in Washington.

The couple were known to have made deals during times of crisis when Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president.

But McConnell did not give Obama a quarterback, repeatedly blocking him on judicial appointments and forcing the president to scale back his legislative agenda.

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