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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Joe Biden Elected 46th President Of The United States. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired November 7, 2020 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:59:50]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: In Maricopa County, the largest county there in Arizona Phoenix area, the vote is about to come in. And right now we see Biden maintains his lead of about 28,000 votes over Trump. But that lead has shrunk a bit over these past couple of days.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Over the past couple of days, if you rewound the tape, you'd see a Biden lead of this size, 50,000 -- it was 47,000 plus not that long ago. So as these votes have come in, Donald Trump has been slowly narrowing it.

And you look at the map and you see all the read -- not much population in the red, but the president, just like in Pennsylvania has very strong support in rural America.

And then you move in here, this is where the people are, 60 percent of your vote is going to come right here Maricopa County. And you see it's competitive, right -- 50 to 48, if you round that up, about 95 percent in.

This will be the game right here, Maricopa County. You have more votes also down in Pima County. Phoenix, Tucson, the suburbs around them, the two biggest population centers in the state of Arizona. So that's where -- that's how you settle the race.

But if you come in --

BLITZER: Hold on one second. I want to go to Bill Weir. He's in Phoenix for us. He's getting the votes right now. Update our viewers, Bill.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. This is the last big significant dump of the biggest county here in the state of Arizona. My mask privileges have been revoked, which is a good call by the decision desk.

So John, I'll just give you the raw numbers. Biden-Harris, now 1,023,516 votes; Trump-Pence, 977,495. It doesn't look like the president made up as much ground as he needs to.

BLITZER: Yes. He certainly, certainly did not make up that much ground. You can see what's going on over there. Those are the total numbers that we're talking in Maricopa County right now. KING: Right, the numbers and the map, you see the numbers here and the

hap. We have to match this one up. You see Joe Biden goes from 04 up to 23, and you see the president jumps right here, up a little bit. So you're just trying to see, are we getting to a point where the president can narrow the lead a little bit. No polls up there in just a minute.

Let me just move this out of the way, a little bit, so people can see what we're talking about. Here you've got 60 percent of the vote right and the question is you're looking at percentages, are you making up the percentage that you need?

BLITZER: We got the actual numbers. Biden got 19,513.

KING: Well, let's blank it out and get to the new numbers there. That's the way go at it.

BLITZER: 19,513.

KING: Ok.

BLITZER: And Trump got 26,992.

KING: Right. So again, the president there, he's obviously netting more votes. That's the important point. If you're the president, you're looking at this and you're saying I'm netting more votes in these counts.

But then, that's good. You're making up ground. But then you come to the bigger question. And you come out statewide -- sorry about. Let's bring it up here. Are you making up enough ground. That's the question.

So now you see it down to 20,573. It was 47,000. The question is, can you narrow it to catch up the gap, is the question.

BLITZER: It's down to 20,573 right now. Still a lead, but it's shrunk once again as the votes come in from Maricopa County.

KING: Right and as the votes come in let me just move this out of the way. Again, you look at Maricopa County, this is very telling and it's very helpful. It's a great tool. But sometimes you have to dig in.

Just remember, Maricopa County is 60 percent of the vote. You see 50- 48. That's very competitive. Four years ago in Maricopa County, it was very competitive and , it was very competitive and it was the president on top. We were just talking about this in Pennsylvania.

Joe Biden is not going into counties and flipping them. We're not seeing ten-point swings in votes. But 49-46 if you round there four years ago. Right now it's a flip 50 to 48. You move the dial one point, two points, three percentage points, excuse me, that's how you can flip a state.

But we need to count -- we need to continue here because this is the one -- in the other states, especially Georgia and Pennsylvania, as they count the late votes, Biden leads stretches.

In Arizona as they count them, Biden's lead has been shrinking.

BLITZER: But Biden is still ahead by 20,573. But it helps explain why CNN, our decision desk decided not to call, not to project the winner in Arizona and wanted the numbers to come in much more thoroughly.

KING: Right. We get the frustration out there. We spent months, actually years, looking at census changes. Look at voting registration changers and you make a set of rules.

Here is our metric. We need to see this before we call the state for either candidate. Those are the rules. They were the rules the day before election day. So they have to be the rules on election day and in the five or six or seven days after. You can't change the rules.

We know if we call a certain state or two states, it's over. We can't do it just to do that, right. The rules have to be in place. You can have all your fireworks in place on July 3rd, you don't light them until July 4th. The clock hast to reach the point -- again, you just got have to stick with the standards.

You can guess. We have probability. Those of you at home can do math. A lot of very smart people on both the Democrat and the Republican Party on social media and elsewhere are publishing the percentages and the metrics and the likelihoods. That's all great, as long as that math is correct, but we have rules, we need to follow them.

BLITZER: So it's clear we're not going to project Arizona right now.

So let's go back to Pennsylvania where the vote -- we're waiting for some more votes. They're supposed to come in any minute right now. What are you looking for, John?

KING: Well, number one, you're just looking again if the percentages match up. You just let me go down here to Philadelphia and this is where we know. We know that there are about 20,000 votes out and we believe within moments we could get 2,000 to 3,000 of those votes.

[11:05:01]

KING: That's where our Kate Bolduan on the scene has said. Pam Brown has backed that up. A thorough reporting from the voting desk.

So we're looking at a universe of maybe 2,000 -- 3,500 of those votes, about 20,000 out. So we're going to get 10 percent or more of those votes. Statistically that tells you something.

Joe Biden getting 81 percent of the votes. Number one, you get new votes. That means it's a small universe of outstanding votes. You're getting closer to knowing the final number.

Number two, you're looking for consistency, right. Is Joe Biden continuing to perform or the president in Arizona? The point we were just making. The president has continued to chip into the lead. You're looking at the ratio. How much is he cutting it by here? For Joe Biden, it's been how much is he building it by.

So he's getting 81 percent overall in these late ballots, mail-in ballots that they're counting. Joe Biden has been exceeding that. So does that continue? Do you continue to see math where Joe Biden is matching or exceeding what he's getting and then you're counting on how many votes still outstanding. What percentage is Joe Biden getting? And how high does that raise the bar for President Trump to catch up.

So you're watching it there. And again, you come out here and it's more competitive, but it's the very same dynamic. The votes we received this morning from Allegheny County. Joe Biden got higher than that percentage.

So Biden is building. Trump is not catching. That's the dynamic you're looking for. And again, our great decision desk people, they know how many votes have been cast now. They've run -- have a statistical model that tells them if we reach this point, you declare a winner. No matter who that winner is, you declare a winner when you reach a certain point.

Joe Biden is inching up to that metric. He's just not quite there yet which is what you're looking for as you go through.

Right before we went to Arizona, I just was talking about how Joe Biden has moved the bar here, right. Again, you look at it so competitive and you think not a lot changed.

Well, number one, Democrats turned out. The little things like this. This is North Hampton county, 49.8 -- 48.9. You think, ok what is the significance of that?

Well, let's go back in time. Donald Trump carried this county, again very narrowly right, but in a heavyweight battle county like this, he's a little on top, she's behind. That matters because if you go back in time in 2012, this is one of what I the pivot counties, up 206 of them across America.

Obama wins them twice and then Trump wins them. If you study politics that's what you want to know. How does that happen? How do people vote twice for Barack Obama and then flip for Donald Trump. That was Trump's appeal. So you it here. Obama gets 51. Again, it's a very competitive play.

Obama gets 51, Trump gets 50, Biden is about to get 50 there. And again, you say, that's not such a big deal but if you do it in North Hampton and then you do it in Erie, there are three pivot counties in Pennsylvania. Right now Joe Biden is on the verge of flipping two of them. It gets you 10,000 votes -- 5,000 votes here, 10,000 votes there -- that gets you 28,000, almost 29,000 there. And you build your path until you hit the line. And we're getting really close to it.

BLITZER: And there's not a whole lot of votes outstanding in Pennsylvania right now. The votes that are outstanding are in the Pittsburgh, Allegheny County area and in the southeastern part, the heavily Democratic part of the state. KING: Right. We talked to Brian Todd earlier. He's right there in the

room, too. Let's emphasize that, especially at a time when the president of the United States and his allies are stirring up all this dust about irregularities.

We have reporters in the room, organizations have -- other organizations do, Democrats and Republicans importantly have people in the room.

There are cameras in the room. People are counting votes. People are counting votes. It's fully transparent. If you see anything wrong, go to the right place and file a complaint on paper with your evidence when you hear people talking about this on either side. We just need to discount it. The proof is in the pudding, if you will.

But here you go. We've been watching this for days. Joe Biden getting 59 percent countywide in these late mail-in ballots significantly higher. Again that's what gets you closer to meeting your metric and we're expecting more votes from here shortly.

And then again, you know, the major population center of the state, if we move Pennsylvania up a little bit is here. And we know 20,000 votes still outstanding in Philadelphia.

And Pam Brown can correct my figures but there's just a couple thousand when you go around here. Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, and you come back here to Philadelphia City. What do they all have in common? They're blue. Slightly different percentages. Joe Biden is running it up huge in Philadelphia County.

You come up to Bucks County, it's the more competitive of the suburbs in that color red around the city, but Joe Biden is a, winning it. This is the more competitive one. But in the mail-in ballots, winning it higher. So you just go.

County to count, they're counting the votes. A couple of thousand here, a couple of thousand there. What we're waiting for is to see another batch that confirms the trajectory to make sure there's no late disruption in that. And guess what -- 28,000 votes there, you know, you get Joe Biden at 30,000 heading toward 35,000 then the math is pretty convincing. We'll see when these votes come in.

BLITZER: Well, they might be coming in in Allegheny County. Brian Todd is there in Pittsburgh for us.

So Brian, you're there in the room. We will be getting those numbers, we understand, fairly soon, right?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, fairly soon. No strict timetable yet. We think it's going to be in the next couple of minutes. We believe that we're going to hear from David Voye who's the election division manager for Allegheny County.

He's going to step to this podium, we've been told. So we're anticipating that. A lot of anticipation as you and John are talking about, Allegheny County so crucial to, you know, whether Joe Biden is going to boost those margins to what he needs here in Pennsylvania.

[11:09:57]

TODD: You know, the counters have been here all morning. They've been kind of doing different briefings with the observers. At one point the observers asked to get a little closer to where the counters were. They were allowed to do that.

And so it's been a very transparent process here the entire time we've been here. And it's important to note at this kind of crucial moment here in Allegheny County, Wolf, we have asked repeatedly to -- people like Rich Fitzgerald, the executive for Allegheny County and David Voye, who is about to give us this briefing.

We have asked repeatedly, have there been any complaints from observers? Have there been any glitches, anything at all.

We've repeatedly been told no, that everything has been going very smoothly, everything is transparent. I think it's important to point that out at a time like this when so many are hinting on, you know, these few thousand votes that we think we're going to get.

The executive for Allegheny County, Rich Fitzgerald, did tell another news outlet a short time ago, he expects maybe about 7,000 votes to be revealed here in the next few minutes. So that could be very significant, guys.

BLITZER: It could be extremely significant. And you are there, you're going to get us those numbers as soon as they come in.

Stand by for a moment, Brian, we're going to get back to you. But if we get 7,000 votes right now coming in from Allegheny County, that's a huge number, and presumably mail-in ballots which are skewed disproportionately for Biden.

KING: Right. And the executive also said this morning some of these ballots they're counting are military ballots. That has been one thing again. You know, the campaigns call us and that's fine. They're working the rest. I remember this four years ago. The Clinton campaign was saying don't call Wisconsin, don't call Michigan. We think there are votes in Milwaukee. We think there are votes in Detroit.

We need to listen to them. That's our job. We're reporters, we listen to everybody. And so the campaigns are working the rest. And one of the things the Trump people have been saying, they have every right to say this over the last couple days is, don't call these states. Remember, there are military ballots out there or there are other ballots out there from overseas and we think we're going to win those. Ok, fair point.

What we have seen when they announced the Allegheny results earlier though, the gentleman said there are some military ballots in there and Joe Biden still had a lopsided percentage.

So again, you're just sort of going through your box. What are the issues the Trump campaign says to watch? What are the issues the Biden campaign says to watch? More importantly what metrics did we have in place before the election? What are our rules.

Are the people we have -- and they're fantastic people. You see us on television. I cannot tell you how many people in this building are busting their you-know-whats to help us do this right.

And they have their metrics and they check their boxes. And guess what, caution is a good watcher but yes, if you get a batch of votes that size and again if it reaffirms Joe Biden continues to get 70 percent of them or high 60 percent of them, then it tells you your trajectory is solid, there's no interruptions in your line.

You know, the president is Arizona, for example, Joe Biden had a big lead, well the president makes you pause right, hit the pause button because the president chips into it. That's when you stop for caution.

The challenge for the president now as we get so close to a decision point in Pennsylvania is to prove he can slow that trajectory and we don't see it.

And just one more quick thing. I just want to reinforce this. Because Brian is in that room. It's not just reporters in that room and it's not just, you know, the government officials, the employees in that room. There are honest Democrats and Republicans in that room.

Brian says that nobody is raising complaints. There are very good Republicans from western Pennsylvania in there. If you're a Democrat you may disagree with their politics, but they're hardworking people who are volunteering.

The observers are volunteering and it's very important what Brian just said. There are Democrats and Republicans, hard working Americans, our neighbors, our friends, our doctors, our farmers who are in these rooms watching.

The president is complaining. He's not in the room. The people in the room, members of his own party, people who voted for him are not raising their hand and complaining. And that is an incredibly significant point as we go through this process because those are honest, hardworking people. I don't care what party they're in. They're counting votes.

BLITZER: They're patriotic Americans and we're grateful to them.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: Allegheny County, we're expecting several thousand votes momentarily to be released. Also let's go back to Philadelphia right now. Kate Bolduan is there.

We're expecting a batch of votes to come in from Philadelphia as well, Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. We're expecting relatively soon to have the first batch of votes of the day to be counted and uploaded to the system. We're told by officials, we're told by sources that it will be between 2,000 and 3,000 votes. One source telling us it will be before noon, which as you're looking at, we're in the 11:00 hour now on the East Coast. Another source saying by early afternoon.

The focus here is on these 20,000 outstanding mail-in ballots that are requiring extra review. As it was put to us, there's also 18,000 provisional ballots that are out there and we were told to set aside and put out of our mind for the moment those provisional ballots because right now the focus is on those 20,000 mail-in ballots that are requiring extra review.

We know that since 7:00 this morning they have been in there reviewing, observing, and churning this out. We're told by a source there are ten people processing the ballots, six top officials hovering over them. So they are working on it.

[11:14:50]

BOLDUAN: We are expecting that this update will be coming very soon. It will not be the last update of the day. We're, of course, pushing to get more information of what those numbers could look like throughout the day. But they are churning it out as fast as they can, as accurately as they can.

As one top official put it, when they know that the world's eyes are on them, Wolf, they said you move too fast in this process, you look reckless. You move too slow in this process, you look like you're cooking the books. They said they're just getting it right. They're going through each ballot as they would in any election. And this is the process that it takes.

But we are expecting an update of 2,000 to 3,000 additional ballots to be counted and uploaded to the system very soon, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Kate, as soon as you get a head's up, let us know. We're anxious, really anxious to get the results in Philadelphia and to get results in Allegheny County, John. And Pittsburgh as well.

So several thousand -- maybe 7,000 in Allegheny County; 2,000 or 3,000 in Philadelphia; let's say another 10,000 votes come in and presumably Biden will be doing really well.

KING: And the presumably part is the important part that if he matches his metrics of what he's been doing and again, it gets you closer on the trajectory to get there.

And you mentioned Philadelphia. Look, he's getting 81 percent of the vote, right, in the total vote. He's been winning higher percentages when they count these smaller batches of mail-in ballots.

But to Kate's point, just think about it at home, you know, if you've got 20,000 votes out -- if we get 2,000 to 3,000 then you're taking 10 percent or more off the table.

And if it matches what you had in the previous batch, which was a couple of thousand, you go back and look does it match what you had in the previous batch a couple of thousand, then you're seeing a consistency that makes you more comfortable in making a projection.

If you see something that goes in a different direction, it's not an anomaly, it's math. If something comes in, you say oh, ok, all of a sudden the president is posting more votes, then it gives you pause.

So what you're looking for is just, you know, a consistent track and out of Philadelphia there has been a very consistent track.

And I just want to reinforce again, you know, this is a very competitive election, right. Joe Biden has the possible of getting over 300 electoral college votes. But when you go through these battleground states and you watch what's happening. Every campaign is based on the last campaign right.

Look what Joe Biden is doing, 81 percent. In Philadelphia they're still counting votes 555,833. You go back in time, 584,025. The Clinton campaign lost Pennsylvania four years ago. Their biggest issue in the post mortem was not really Philadelphia. There were other cities like Detroit and Milwaukee where they felt like urban turnout including African-Americans was down. And they were worried about that.

This was not one of them. They thought they did a pretty good job but you always want to turn out more votes. You always do. But the Clinton campaign said we did it. We met our metric here in Philadelphia.

So the challenge for the Biden campaign was to do the same and they're right on path to do that as they count each remaining vote. They're almost matching it there in percentage as well. So then that's the idea.

So ok, so Trump beat us here last time, what do the Democrats have to do? Number one, match that because at least match it because it was a strong performance and then build on it. Again --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right. Hold on one second. Kate Bolduan, we'll go back to Philadelphia right now. Kate -- what are you getting?

BOLDUAN: Wolf, we're just learning from a source that they are momentarily going to be posting this new batch and it will be 3,000 ballots. I'm looking, I'm literally refreshing my phone as we speak. It has not updated to the system yet, but we're told it will be posting momentarily. It will be 3,000 additional ballots added to the results from Philadelphia, Wolf.

KING: And Kate, it's John. Wolf stepped away for one second. So let's just walk through this. You mentioned it could be 3,000 ballots which again could be decisive in the state of Pennsylvania.

Walk our viewers through, who might not have been with us through the hours into yesterday or the day before, so there's 3,000 ballots of the 20,000 remaining and these are mostly mail-in ballots or all mail- in ballots?

BOLDUAN: Exactly. These are all mail-in ballots, John. These are, and I know you know this, but for our viewers to explain --

KING: Right.

BOLDUAN: -- these are mail-in ballots that they kind of keep until the end of the process because they require a second look. They have an issue that needs to be reviewed and addressed.

How they talk about them here in Philadelphia, they talk about them as problem child ballots. It's just kind of the way they term it. These are things -- I'm just going to continue to refresh John, as we talk. These are things like there's a missing date, people put their birth date in the place where they're supposed to put the current date, they have missing home addresses, they signed the wrong part of the envelope.

These are all issues that have to be addressed to double-check to make sure they're accurate before they are counted.

These also include, John, even -- it sounds simple, but it's quite a real thing, the ballot is overly creased and it has to be dealt with manually because it can't get through the actual system.

So this will be a 3,000-batch vote that will go into the system. Where we are right now in terms of the number of ballots cast by mail that have been counted are 339,933.

It's always a lot of numbers, John. You are much better at the math than I, so I'm not going to do it. But there will be -- it will be a 3,000 additional count for (ph), just contacts of people.

[11:19:57]

BOLDUAN: That is very similar to the batch that we received yesterday evening. It was a little over 2,000. So it seems that is the increments that they're working in now, John.

KING: I'll do my best when the numbers come in, Kate. But don't underestimate your math skills.

Listen this could be decisive. So I want to get to a point here. It's Philadelphia where the Trump campaign has had a couple of news conferences in recent days, you know, jumping up and down and screaming about things. They actually won a battle. They went to court in one case.

The observers were so far away watching the vote and they won a court battle so that they could get closer to watch that.

You know, the Trump campaign has been stirring up these allegations that in Philadelphia, especially Democratic cities, cooking the books.

As you watch this process play out, we just had this conversation about Brian in Allegheny. There are Republicans and Democrats. People who voted for President Trump in this room watching, correct? Plus live cameras?

BOLDUAN: Yes, John, you're talking to me, yes?

KING: Yes.

BOLDUAN: I'm sorry, I didn't know if there's another voice -- there's always too many voices in our heads. Apologies.

Yes. There are people in the room. There are poll watchers in the room from both sides -- Democratic and Republican. They have been in there the entire time. I was actually told by someone as the president was saying at a press conference that they weren't letting poll watchers in. Someone texted me and said I just left the room, they are in there right now, they have been in there the entire time.

We know that they have been. There's also a live -- there's been a live stream camera that has been up the entire time. We've spoken to sources and we've asked continuously, there has been no -- they have no reports of glitches or problems.

This is the process playing out and these are hard-working people who have been trying to get it right this entire time. And they're processing -- the reason it's taking longer, as you know John, is because of this influx of mail-in ballots that they have not had before in a general election like this, and also the restrictions that the state was under.

The fact that they could not open and prepare the ballots until election morning, election day morning.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right. Stand by. We have a key race alert right now. New numbers have just come in in Pennsylvania. Biden has increased his lead over Trump right now -- 30,908. Biden has 49.6 percent, Trump was 49.1 percent. The lead has gone up by a little bit around 2,000 right now. John King, go ahead.

KING: Let's go Wolf, I want to walk through these numbers here of what just cam in. I'll write them out for you here. This is from Philadelphia, as we said.

The vice president and Democratic nominee, former vice president and Democratic nominee gets 2,431 of these votes. The president of the United States in Philadelphia gets only 356 of these newer votes. That is 85 percent -- 85 percent of these votes, 85 percent.

So let's look at the significance of this. Again, number one, it adds to that statewide lead. It gets Joe Biden above 30,000 heading to 31,000. That is what we have been looking for, consistency in the trajectory of the count because you see 3.33 million count, 3.308 million count.

Now you have Joe Biden with a 30,000 vote lead. These new votes are coming to us, just talking to Kate Bolduan. She's right here in the city of Philadelphia. I'll move this down a little.

Again, what are you looking for as you go through these metrics? Joe Biden gets 85 percent of this new batch of ballots, just shy of 3,000 votes. He gets 85 percent.

Well, he's been getting 81 percent when you round up in Philadelphia. So what are we looking for as we go? Here is Joe Biden at that decisive moment. Is he continuing to match or exceed the percentages he is getting?

That is critical as you start to build your statistical model as you take more votes off. Now under 100,000 votes left to be counted in Pennsylvania. So 2,431, that's 85 percent, right.

I'm going to move this off now and put it into context. So Joe Biden adds to his lead in Pennsylvania by running it up more in Philadelphia. We know we have more ballots coming shortly in Allegheny County as well.

The rest of the outstanding ballots, the overwhelming majority of them, right down here, southeast Pennsylvania in this blue color right around this part of the state.

Wolf, as you look at these numbers right , you're building and building and building.

BLITZER: After four long tense days, we've reached a historic moment in this election. We can now project the winner of the presidential race.

CNN projects Joseph R. Biden Jr. is elected the 46th president of the United States, winning the White House and denying President Trump a second term.

We're able to make this projection because CNN projects Biden wins Pennsylvania. The former vice president, in his third run for the highest office, pulling off a rare defeat of a sitting commander in chief. With this victory, Kamala Harris is set to become the first woman and the first person of color to be the vice president.

[11:24:56]

BLITZER: Again, CNN projects Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States.

And Jake, he is now president elect Joe Biden.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What a moment in history. We have all been waiting on the edges of our seats since Tuesday.

It is the end -- the end of a tumultuous presidency, a time of some accomplishments, no question; a time where many Americans throughout the country and in shuttered steel towns and in rural America, they felt -- for the first time, they felt heard which is important.

But it is also, Wolf, it has also been a time of extreme divisions. Many of the divisions caused and exacerbated by President Trump himself.

It's been a time of several significant and utterly avoidable failures, most tragically, of course, the unwillingness to respect facts and science and do everything that can be done to save lives during a pandemic.

It has been a time where truth and fact were treated with disdain. It is a time of cruelty where official inhumanities such as child separation became the official shameful policy of the United States.

But now the Trump presidency is coming to an end -- to an end, with so many squandered opportunities and ruined potential, but also an era of just plain meanness.

It must be said, to paraphrase President Ford, for tens of millions of our fellow Americans, their long national nightmare is over, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And let's talk about Joe Biden.

TAPPER: Yes.

BASH: Five decades in public service, three times running for president. He finally got there. And he's the most conventional of politicians, but in this election cycle his path has been so unconventional.

Remember, he beat out the biggest, most diverse field in the Democratic primary and he is an older white man who did that.

TAPPER: The oldest.

BASH: He lost Iowa -- the oldest. He lost Iowa. He lost New Hampshire. And it was Democratic black voters who saved him and propelled him to this point. And that started in South Carolina. And he made a comeback just this year like we've never seen.

And also remember, Joe Biden is defined by his personal loss, his calling card is knowing how to heal himself. And what he ran on and what he says he's going to do is try to heal this nation.

Now he's got to turn his attention to that and can you imagine a more arduous task?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and he defeated a president who was not easy to defeat, as we all know. A political force who really shocked the world four years ago. But it was, as you said, Dana, a white, old man who did it and who was chosen by an increasingly young, diverse party to do one thing.

That's regain the ground that was lost four years ago in parts of this country that have been traditionally Democratic. And he did it in a way that was always underestimated by even members of his own party.

This is a man who is not known for his discipline, who ran an incredibly conservative, disciplined, understated general election campaign. And it is for that reason that he was elected today as president of the United States. But I just want to say one more thing, Jake, as you said, tens of millions of Americans, for them today this moment is a huge sigh of relief. They've spent four years, a majority of Americans spent four years being governed by a president they did not elect.

Today that ends for them and I think it is a cathartic moment. We have to give credence to that, a cathartic moment for millions and millions of Americans.

TAPPER: And one other thing we have to acknowledge, not only did Joe Biden pull off what I think very few people would have predicted a couple of years ago, that he was going to be able to beat this incredible Democratic field, the strongest Democratic field in a long, long time, if not ever.

BASH: No question.

And he was able to pull it off. He was able to do so with decency, he was able to do so on his terms. He ran as Joe Biden.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: I'm a guy that wants to bring the country together. I'm a guy that wants to govern from the center left. I'm a guy who feels your pain, who cares about you.

PHILLIP: He ran as his authentic self.

TAPPER: He ran as himself. And I would like to also take a moment to acknowledge that the United States of America just elected its first woman and its first woman of color as vice president.

Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants -- one from India and one from Jamaica -- once again an amazing sign of what this country can be.

[11:29:51]

PHILLIP: Yes. In some ways this country always seems to act on a pendulum. You go from one extreme to another. I think we're seeing the other extreme of the pendulum today.

Kamala Harris represents so much for millions of people in this country. And even her path to this moment, I think, is fairly unconventional. She was one of the first major candidates to drop out of the Democratic field, but was someone who I think in the party believed always had so much promise, even Barack Obama believed she was a major rising star years ago.

And one of the roles that she will play for Joe Biden is helping him bridge that gap between the Joe Biden who has been in Washington for decades and decades, the old guard, the 70-something-year-old white man, with the younger part of the party that is clamoring to be heard. They feel like they have been -- that their futures are on the line, especially after the last four years. And I think a lot of them are looking to Kamala Harris to give voice to that. BASH: Yes. And just to echo what you said earlier in the week, the

Democratic Party has been alive on the backs of and through the hard work of black women for many, many years, and now they finally see representation. And that is a huge thing.

I want to just also -- I was thinking about this, put some numbers in historical reference on the Kamala Harris moment. 100 years ago this year women got the right to vote. 55 years ago this year, black Americans were told that it could be easier for them to vote with the Voting Rights Act. That was after so much bloodshed, so much protests.

And now, after all of that time, a black woman has made history.

TAPPER: The son of Scranton and the daughter of immigrants are headed to the White House. It is a sign of what can happen in this country. You can become anything you want to be.

Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And it was the state -- the commonwealth, where Joe Biden was born and it is on the same day 48 years ago that he was first elected to the Senate, November 7th, 1972.

Van, what are your thoughts?

VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's -- well, it's easier to be a parent this morning, it's easier to be a dad. It's easier to tell your kids character matters, it matters. Telling the truth matters. Being a good person matters. And it's easier for a lot of people.

If you're Muslim in this country, you don't have to worry if the president doesn't want you here. If you're an immigrant, you don't have to worry if the president's going to be happy to have babies snatched away or to send dreamers back for no reason.

It's vindication for a lot of people who have really suffered, you know, the -- I can't breathe, that wasn't just George Floyd. That's a lot of people have felt that they couldn't breathe.

Every day you're waking up and getting these tweets and you just don't know and you're going to the store and people who have been afraid to show their racism are getting nastier and nastier to you. And you're worried about your kids and you're worried about your sister, can she just go to Walmart and get back into her car without somebody saying something to her. And you've spent so much of your life energy just trying to hold it together.

And this is a big deal for us just to be able to get some peace and have a chance for a reset. And the character of the country matters and being a good man matters. You know, I just want my sons to look at this. Look at this, you know.

It's easy to do it the cheap way and get away with stuff, but it comes back around. It comes back around. And it's a good thing for this country.

I'm sorry for the people who lost. For them it's not a good day. But for a whole lot of people it's a good day.

COOPER: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: As long as I've been covering politics, we talk about character. In a lot of campaigns character didn't count, other things mattered more. And I always ask myself this question -- this race, would character matter? Would values matter? would that go to the top of the list?

And COVID became part of that. It became part of the character issue. How you handle something that has killed more than 200,000 people in this country. It became a matter of character and values.

[11:34:57]

BORGER: And you look at Joe Biden and that is who he is. He's a man of empathy. You can disagree with him on all his -- you know, politically you can say he's a socialist, which of course he isn't. He was very hard for Republicans to pigeonhole, because he's had more than four decades in public service in which he refused to be pigeonholed.

And what's so fascinating about what's going to occur is that during the campaign or at least early on in the campaign, we always heard Joe Biden talk about himself as a transitional candidate because he is old.

Now, as a president, he's going to have to be transformational, because so much needs to be done in this country, whether it's about COVID, whether it's about the economy, whether it's about race, whether it's about climate. You can go -- you can go down the list.

So this man who was the youngest man -- one of the youngest, I should say -- ever elected to the United States senate, will now be the oldest man ever to take the presidential oath. Think of that.

COOPER: David.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, let me say watching Wolf make that announcement threw me back to when I was in the war room in 2008 at the campaign headquarters and I heard him say the words that Barack Obama would be president of the United States and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

I'm sure that's the feeling of people over in Biden's headquarters and many people across the country. And Van just so eloquently and movingly expressed that. Joe Biden, we tend to correct in our elections for the deficiencies of the person in that office. And in this case those deficiencies went to character, went to decency, went to a lack of empathy. And these are qualities, as Gloria said, that Joe Biden has in abundance and that made him the right candidate to run against Donald Trump.

I think when he said last night that he wanted to bring the country together, that he wanted to be the president of all Americans, that he fundamentally believes that. He grew up that way in politics. But we should also recognize today, and I'm sure Rick will speak to this, that there are a lot of Americans who think -- will see this as a gut-punch, because we are in a very divided country. And for all the tasks that Joe Biden faces now, president elect Biden, whether it's dealing with the virus or dealing with the economy, or myriad other problems, the greatest challenge is going to be to deal with a deeply divided country and try and find a common language and a common set of concerns that we can work on together, even if we disagree on many, many issues.

And that -- you know, I so fervently hope for the country that he is successful in moving us forward in that way.

COOPER: Rick, do you think that's possible?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first let me just congratulate vice president Biden. It looks like he's going to win this election. I know there's a lot of conservatives in the White House, Republicans who still think this race isn't over, that they're going to continue this effort to determine whether there was sufficient irregularities in the election to overturn this. So I think that's going to continue.

How long it will continue, as David and I talked about yesterday, will depend upon the margins in some of these states. I mean Pennsylvania, it was just called. Pennsylvania ends up, you know, at 50,000 or 100,000 votes. It's going to be very, very difficult.

Let's say Arizona, Nevada -- if you're not fighting just one state, if you're fighting in three or four states, it's going to be harder to figure out how you can put an effort together to be successful.

So from the Republican point of view, we're not convinced it's over yet and we're going to wait and see how the rest of these states play out.

We have, as you can see from the board, a lot of still very, very, narrow, narrow races. So let me just say there's not the feeling yet that this is over.

Obviously, Van is very moved, and I can understand how people are feeling the way you're feeling right now. I think, as we've talked about before, it's a very divided country and I think a lot of folks on our side are feeling the fears that you're feeling, that you have been feeling the past four years.

On the economic side, people are afraid that Joe Biden is going to do what Boris Johnson is doing and Angela Merkel is doing and all in Europe and shut down the economy.

There are a lot of blue-collar people, and again, you know, we've been talking about this, that both -- a lot of blue-collar Americans felt that neither political party really cared about them.

[11:39:52]

SANTORUM: And that they were the ones who were losing their jobs. They're the ones who, you know, whether it was technology or trade or globalism -- that they were sort of left behind by both political parties. Republicans for big business and Democrats for protecting the environment and all these other issues.

And the working-class people were sort of left behind. So they're worried about, you know, going back to global agenda and not worrying about what's going on here in America.

There are a lot of people of faith who are worried about religious liberty. They're worried about whether there's going to be, you know, speech codes and hate speech and a limit on what they're able to say.

So as much as people are concerned, I understand you're feeling relieved, there's a lot of people now on our side who are feeling concerned.

COOPER: Van, just before we go, the challenge ahead for this president is enormous.

JONES: It is, and I think that people should take very seriously what the senator just said. The grievances, those working-class folks who felt that neither party cared about them weren't wrong. People were sacrificed for an agenda that didn't help a lot of people. And I know poor folks in Appalachia and poor folks in South Central, they've got the same problems.

And cultural wars notwithstanding, there's a moment here -- do your lawsuits, that's your right. But there is a moment here where we can reset and I think Joe Biden wants us to reset.

And I will do everything I can. We've got a lot of fear and a lot of pain, we've got a lot of promise, too. And so do your guys. If we could sit down at the same table, we could get something done together.

COOPER: Gloria.

BORGER: I think the country has just elected the man who is the polar opposite of the man who currently occupies the office. And his norm- shattering presidency, which I think we can all agree it was in one way or another, is going to give way to a presidency that will be all about respecting norms and institutions and making them better and uniting the country, not dividing the country.

And I think as Trump becomes the first president, I think, in almost 30 years not to win a second term, it will be hard for him to accept, it is hard for him to accept. But in the end, I hope he is gracious and can muster some graciousness when it comes to Joe Biden and him becoming the next president.

COOPER: Let's go back to Jake.

TAPPER: Well, it has been quite an ordeal covering the election these last few days and I know a lot of people out there have been eager for us to count the votes and make calls even before we were ready to do so. I want to make sure people understand that we were taking our time because we wanted to be 100 percent sure of the projection.

And, you know, it's interesting, Abby, because while President Trump has been out there attacking the very fundamentals of democracy, he's been benefitting from the counting going on in Arizona.

I want to go to Jeff Zeleny right now, who is covering the Biden campaign for us, of course. And Jeff, obviously Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris have been eagerly awaiting the media to make these projections. What is the plan?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, good morning. Joe Biden, I'm told, was at his home here in Wilmington, Delaware when he saw the news that CNN and other networks projected him as the 46th president of the United States.

He had been anticipating this moment with patience, perhaps much more patience than some of his Democratic supporters. But now he is looking ahead to the speech that he will deliver here this evening.

It will, indeed, be a speech for history. It will also be the first step in his quest to try and unify this country. We've heard glimpses of what he's going to say. We've heard these words before. But the weight of these words he will deliver here this evening will be the first test for his quest to unify this nation.

He said it last night, Jake, he said we may be opponents, but we are not enemies. We are Americans. That will be the central theme of his message here and it will be at the same spot where he, of course, accepted the Democratic presidential nomination.

But this campaign has changed dramatically since he started running it. This country has changed dramatically since he served eight years as the vice president.

But he will use all of that learning, all of that history from his years in the senate right here from Delaware. And of course at his time in the White House to deliver that speech.

I'm told by friends who have spoken to him over the last several days that he is going to give President Trump a bit of time. He's going to give Republicans a bit of time to digest this before he goes forward with his transition plans.

First and foremost in his transition is going to be focusing on coronavirus. The challenges that are facing this country are steep. We've sort of set aside these daily cases of coronavirus to watch election returns, but he has been getting briefings every day, sometimes a few times a day on this. That, I'm told, is going to be his first step.

[11:44:59]

ZELENY: But for tonight, at least, he's going to deliver a speech and his supporters and advisers are already sending the message out. This is not a time for gloating. This is a time to accept and feel and celebrate a victory. There will be fireworks here, I'm told, this evening. There's also, I'm told, going to be what is scheduled to be a light show with several drones perhaps dozens or scores of drones in the air delivering a type of light show here.

And after that, the hard work begins.

So for now I'm told we are not expected to hear or see the former vice president before that address this evening. That could always change.

Of course, we might see a message from him on social media. But he is going to be delivering this speech that this stage has been waiting for, for the last several days.

Of course, we should also point out we will hear from Senator Harris this evening here as well. A history-making move in its own right. Tremendous move for the country, of course. And we'll see their partnership together beginning here.

So even as he's taking in this victory, Jake, I can tell you the transition is already under way. We are not likely to see any announcements in the coming -- at least the coming hours, but in the coming days we certainly will as he begins to assume his role as president elect. He'll be the 46th president of the United States.

TAPPER: And Jeff, one of the -- for people who are just tuning in for the first time to find out that Joe Biden is now president elect Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris is now vice president elect Kamala Harris, it's probably a good time for Republicans to learn how to pronounce her name.

I would like to note that if they are confused by the honking going on behind you, that is a mark of the new COVID era where Joe Biden would have drive-in rallies, and instead of applauding and cheering, people would honk.

ZELENY: Right. And Jake, it was at this parking lot right behind me here we saw one of the first drive-in rallies during the Democratic Convention this summer in August. It was really an extraordinary moment as he was inside the Chase Center here delivering that acceptance speech, there were hundreds of cars outside with people, you know, coming out of their convertible rooftops or sitting on their hoods honking. And then we've, you know, really seen that throughout the last several months of campaigning. So that is what we will see here tonight

But the honking is the sound of the new applause. But Jake, I can also say hundreds of people gathered here last evening in Wilmington, Delaware. I assume the same will happen this evening.

People from Delaware wanting to see their favorite son out giving a speech. It's one of the largest Democratic gatherings that I have really seen since this pandemic began.

So the Biden campaign, of course, will have their official event here at the drive-in rally, but there are people gathering here in Delaware.

But Jake, we should point out that he will also be the oldest president elected. Two weeks from yesterday, he turned 78 years old. But that is just one of the history-making things.

Also the second U.S. President who is Catholic. So he often goes to mass or to church here in Wilmington before a big moment in his life. I would expect that today as well, Jake. So many moments of history.

Senator Harris, of course, making many, many moments of history. She will speak first this evening, I'm told, and then Joe Biden will speak after. Again, both having a unifying message here.

This is more than just a speech. This is the first step in their next chapter of trying to lead this country through this challenge and turmoil, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

It is such a historic moment -- such a moment of import. The idea of democracy that the people get to decide every few years if they like what they have or they want to stick with it, or if they want to change.

The American people resoundingly, with what looks like a popular vote margin of at least four or five million votes for Joe Biden. Also what looks like it will be ultimately a significant win in the electoral college as well.

The American people saying to Donald Trump, thanks, but you should go, we want new leadership. And Joe Biden could not be more of a polar opposite from Donald Trump.

BASH: You're exactly right. One of the many fantastic story lines, and this is obviously -- this is an objective thing to say of this election, is how many people engaged. How many people went out and voted?

It is just remarkable. Not only is Joe Biden somebody who has gotten more of the popular vote than anybody in history as far as we know. Donald Trump also --

TAPPER: I want to say -- just let me interrupt --

BASH: Sure.

TAPPER: -- for one second. That's right outside the convention center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia, a city that Donald Trump has been attacking unfairly for a long time. He even got into a fight with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 after the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

[11:49:51]

TAPPER: Philadelphia delivering the margin of victory for Joe Biden that allowed CNN to call Pennsylvania. And then, therefore, call the presidency for Joe Biden.

Philadelphians realizing the significant role they played in this election taking to the streets in celebration, in the birthplace of liberty, we should say in this country.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: I'm sorry for interrupting. I just say hi to my friend.

BASH: No, no. That's I completely understand. And by the way -- I completely understand. And by the way, that's happening in a lot of the cities around the country.

getting texts from friends who are saying that they're out and about and they're hearing cheering and honking. Let's be clear. That is obviously happening in about half the country right now because the other half, as I was mentioning before, less than half because otherwise Joe Biden wouldn't be president-elect right now.

Donald Trump did extraordinarily well. It's just that more people voted for Joe Biden. And there are still about 70 million people, a little under that right now, who Joe Biden is going to have to find a way to reach out to.

He says it all the time. He talks about being the president, not just of blue states, of red states but of the United States -- borrowing a famous line from Barack Obama.

But now the tough part comes. Now he's got to find a way to actually make that a reality. And it's not going to be easy because this polarized country is going to take a very, very, very long time to heal.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean look, this is absolutely an incredibly polarized country but I've been sitting here and I've been thinking about how difficult this year has been for so many Americans. And it hasn't been felt evenly in this country.

There are millions of Americans who were disproportionately hurt by this president's failure to deal with this coronavirus crisis. They were devastated economically. They were dying at disproportionate rates, getting disease and sickness at disproportionate rates.

And I do think that they voted in their interest. They voted for their lives. And that's one of the reasons why you saw Joe Biden successfully bringing out Democrats in this election because Democrats who are more likely to be black and Hispanic and nonwhite were disproportionately hurt by what was going on in this country over the last eight months.

And, you know, I also think about the fact that we've had so many Americans really acting heroically when their government would not act for them. Doctors and nurses and EMTs, and now this week we're seeing election workers literally risking their lives to simply count the votes. And at the end of the day I think the American people's voices have been heard. No matter what happens in Washington. We wait for their votes. We call the election based on how they voted.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: Yes.

PHILLIP: And millions of Americans who -- have really suffered especially this year said today that they wanted something completely different.

BASH: And that suffering particularly when you're talking about COVID isn't going to go away any time soon. Joe Biden says he has a plan when he actually gets to the point where he raises his right hand and takes the office. He's going to be able to implement that plan, you know, but it is not going to be an easy task.

What is also really palpable right now is that people are exhausted. People are exhausted by the chaos. It's not just the substance of what needs to be done. It's just the feeling of wanting to get some rest. Wanting to not wake up and say, what is happening on Twitter right now? What is happening, you know, in a world that is going to bust norms in a way that maybe even people who voted for Donald Trump didn't expect to go that far.

And so Biden gives a promise of normalcy. Again, getting to that point when you have so many people who really like President Trump still making that heard in this election is going to be fascinating to watch.

TAPPER: You know, a lot has been said and done about the fact that this was -- in 2016 was the first time Donald Trump ever ran for any office. And I want to contrast that with the fact this is the third time Joe Biden has run for president. The third time.

The last time that a president won on their third attempt was Ronald Reagan who ran in '68, ran '76 and then finally won in 1980. There is also a special kind of (INAUDIBLE) gumption necessary to think that, ok, I ran for president in 1988 and I didn't even make it to 1988. I dropped out in 1987.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: Ok, I ran for president in 2008, I dropped out immediately after Iowa where I got clobbered. I'm going to give it one more shot and it worked. It worked this time.

[11:54:02]

BASH: It did.

TAPPER: I mean it is a lesson not just about politicians -- now every politician is going to run for president at least three times because if Joe Biden can do it, why can't they do it? But it's also just a lesson for people out there watching. BASH: Don't give up.

TAPPER: Don't give up. If you believe in yourself you can actually achieve what you want to achieve despite all odds.

BASH: You're exactly right. And he had given up. I mean in 2016, when he was -- it was made clear to him that this is Hillary Clinton's time, he thought it was over. He didn't think that there was going to be another opportunity. And it was genuine. I mean he has said that and it isn't just spin.

It wasn't just, oh, I feel I need to do this for the country. That's why I'm coming out in the 2020 cycle. It was real.

But it was because what he saw happening that he felt like he maybe singularly can make a difference. And that is probably the -- one of the biggest reasons why he beat out the biggest and most diverse field in the Democratic Party.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean it's so -- it's funny because every politician thinks that they are the one who is chosen to be the person of the moment. And it just so happened that Joe Biden was the guy for the moment.

TAPPER: Right.

PHILLIP: And he had to wait until the very end of his political life, his time in public life for that to actually be true but it's because Joe Biden had spent a lifetime building up this reputation as the every man's man.

And you heard David Axelrod say earlier, they parked him in the upper Midwest back in 2008 just to be a relatable force for people who were being asked to vote for the first black -- potentially the first black president of the United States.

So he's been in this position before. But I do think it has taken his entire lifetime for him to have the credibility to withstand what came at him, which was unprecedented attacks against his family among other things.

TAPPER: Let's check back with Jeff Zeleny who's covering the Biden campaign for us. He's in Wilmington, Delaware -- Jeff?

ZELENY: Jake, we have just heard the first words from Joe Biden, the president-elect of the United States. Sending out a message on social media on Twitter.

Let's take a moment and read this together. He says, "America, I am honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country. The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this. I will be a president for all Americans, whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me."

And those are the first words from Joe Biden here as these results are coming in, as he's taking them in in his home here in Wilmington. Those are his first words.

And also putting out a statement or a video as well to accompany this. And this is something that really is going to be a central theme of his speech tonight, I'm told. This is going to be something he will talk as well about his mandates, his popular vote total and I'm told now by my producer, Bonnie Kat (ph) that we also have a full statement from the former vice president. I'm going to read that to you as well.

He says this. "I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in vice president-elect Harris. In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans have voted, proving once again that democracy beats deep in the heart of America."

He goes on to say, "With the campaign over, it's time to put the anger and harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It's time for America to unite and to heal. We are the United States of America," Mr. Biden says, "and there is nothing we can't do if we do it together.

So those, of course, the first words from Joe Biden as he is, you know, taking in this historic moment for him here in his home of Wilmington.

And that statement, of course, will be the central backbone of his challenge and the backbone of his speech that he will deliver here this evening.

But Jake, I am told that something else that Mr. Biden has been doing and has been doing for several days is thinking about the challenge ahead in trying to reach out to Republicans.

If the Senate of the United States holds in Republican hands, he will need that old friendship with Mitch McConnell to help him build his cabinet. That is something that Democrats may not want to hear at the moment. But if the Senate majority holds in Republican hands, he will need that for governing.

So among the phone calls that the president-elect is going to be receiving here today, he'll be getting world leader calls, no question, and sending out calls. Mitch McConnell remains an important part of this equation as we go forward. So we'll let you know if we hear when those two old friends in Washington respect their friendship, speak.

[11:59:53]

ZELENY: But you'll remember in the Obama administration, Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden cut many deals. It frustrated many on both sides of both aisles so that is one of the dynamics at play.

But for now, at least, this is the tone that Joe Biden is trying to set.