WILMINGTON, Del. - Shortly after presidential hopeful Joe Biden won Wisconsin, the Democratic nominee spoke in front of supporters in Delaware where he stopped short of declaring victory, but expressed confidence that he would win the 2020 election once the votes were fully tabulated.
"After a long night of counting, it is clear that we are winning enough states to reach 270 votes to reach the presidency," Biden said.
“Democracy is the heartbeat of this nation," Biden continued, lauding high turnout among voters.
Biden added that once the election is finalized, it will be time "to put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us, lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to one another, to hear one another and respect and care for one another."
A full day after Election Day, neither candidate had cleared the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. Margins remained tight in several fiercely contested states including the battleground of Pennsylvania. But Biden's victory in Wisconsin loomed as an important step toward the presidency.
Biden said that he expected to win the White House along with running mate Kamala Harris, though he stopped short of outright declaring victory, instead calling for unity, saying that the election is “the people’s will.”
The former vice president urged Americans to “come together and heal.”
“We need to stop treating our opponents as enemies, we are not enemies,” he said. “What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart.”
Biden added that while he and running mate Harris are campaigning as Democrats he “will govern as an American president.”
“There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America,” Biden said.
After victories in Wisconsin and Michigan, Biden held 264 Electoral College votes, six shy of the 270 needed to win the presidency. The former vice president had several possible combinations of outstanding states to win the White House. For example, combining Nevada with Michigan would land him at precisely 270.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the president would formally request a Wisconsin recount, citing “irregularities" in several counties. And the campaign said it was filing suit in Michigan and Pennsylvania to halt ballot counting on grounds that it wasn't given proper access to observe.
Shortly after Biden’s brief appearance, Donald Trump’s campaign held a press conference in which the president’s son Eric Trump said, “Democrats know the only way to win this election is to cheat in Pennsylvania. "This is fraud, this is absolute fraud," he said, without citing evidence that such fraud had taken place.
After FOX News called Michigan for Biden, the president tweeted, “We hereby claim the State of Michigan if in fact, there was a large number of secretly dumped ballots as has been widely reported.” There had been no verified reports of dumped ballots in the state.
Trump also tweeted, “We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” despite Pennsylvania not having been called for either candidate and Michigan being called for Biden.
Twitter quickly flagged Trump’s posts, saying, “Official sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted.”
Trump’s campaign accused a Michigan election official of failing to ensure that challengers and bipartisan observers watched the processing of absentee ballots.
The Republican campaign filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to stop the count, which was mostly centered in Detroit, until Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson allows more inspectors. There was no immediate response from a Court of Claims judge.
The president largely stayed out of the public eye but took to Twitter to suggest, without basis, that the election was being tainted by late-counted ballots. Twitter flagged a number of Trump's tweets, noting some of the information shared was “disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
Vote tabulations routinely continue beyond Election Day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end. In presidential elections, a key point is the date in December when presidential electors met. That’s set by federal law.
Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days later.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.