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Biden Won. Trump Hasn't Conceded. What Now?


After his victory speech last night, President-elect Joe Biden has turned his focus to the transition. But the incumbent, President Trump, still refuses to concede. As his campaign continues to challenge the results, Republicans seem divided over how to respond.

One leading Republican made it clear in no uncertain terms today that the election is over. In a statement, former President George W. Bush said, quote, "though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country," unquote. So what happens next? To answer that, we're joined by NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

Tam, welcome back.


MARTIN: So have we heard from the president today? What's going on there?

KEITH: Yeah, he went golfing again today. And he has been tweeting, including one tweet where he falsely pretends not to understand that in every election for decades, media organizations have made calls about who won once enough votes have been counted that it became clear that the other candidate could not win - in this case, him. He wrote, quote, since when does the lame-stream (ph) media call our next - who our next president will be?

We have all learned a lot in the last two weeks. But here is the problem with this - many times in the last two weeks and in the last four years, President Trump has recounted with glee how the networks called the race for him in 2016. This was him in Pennsylvania last weekend.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They wouldn't call it. I said, wait a minute. They have to call it because I was at 98 - not 99. I was at 98. It stood there, like, for an hour and a half. And I kept saying, that'd be nice. Pennsylvania - that'd be nice (unintelligible). And then they said, Donald Trump has won the state of Wisconsin.


TRUMP: And then they said, Donald Trump has won the state of Michigan. And we won.

KEITH: That, of course, is a blast from the past. This time, it was Joe Biden who had to wait even longer for the AP and other networks to call Pennsylvania. And when they did, Biden became president-elect, just as Trump did four years ago. But unlike Trump, Hillary Clinton conceded. Trump has not yet.

MARTIN: As we mentioned, former President George W. Bush put out this statement today acknowledging Biden as the clear winner. But he may be the most high-profile person to do that, but he also, to this point, seems to be one of the few. What has been the message from Republicans?

KEITH: It's been a bit of a mixed message. The Republican leaders in Congress, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, haven't said anything about Biden's win since the race was called. But others are saying that it isn't final yet and that the legal challenges being raised by the Trump campaign need to continue to be adjudicated. Many have picked up on what seems to be the official Republican talking point - that every legally cast vote should be counted without getting into detail about what that means.

And then there are a few others, like Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who was the party's nominee in 2012 and a critic of the president who has congratulated Biden and says he isn't convinced that Trump will accept the inevitable, as he's put it.

MARTIN: So regardless of Trump's willingness to concede - which doesn't really have any legal force, it has to be said - Biden has won well over 270 electoral votes, and he's now focused on his transition. So what will that look like?

KEITH: Well, the Biden team updated its website to showcase four policy areas the incoming administration will prioritize - COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change. There's a transition page and transition social media accounts. And they've announced who will be leading up their coronavirus task force, which gets to work on Monday.

MARTIN: That is NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

Tam, thank you.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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