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Turning the page? Republicans acknowledge Biden's victory

More than a month after the election, some of the nation’s highest-profile Republican holdouts are beginning to embrace reality.

Posted: Dec 16, 2020 9:33 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a month after the election, top Republicans finally acknowledged Joe Biden as the next U.S. president, a collapse in GOP resistance to the millions of voters who decisively chose the Democrat. Foreign leaders joined the parade, too, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Speaking on Tuesday from the floor of the U.S. Senate where Biden spent 36 years of his career, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated his former colleague as president-elect. The two men spoke later in the day.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, was to meet with his likely successor in the new administration, Antony Blinken. And GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of President Donald Trump's closest allies, said he'd spoken with some of Biden's Cabinet picks.

A similar shift unfolded in capitals across the world, where leaders including Russia's Putin and Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged Biden's win.

The moves came a day after electors nationwide formally cast votes affirming Biden's victory in last month's presidential election. And while that clears a more stable path for Biden to assume the presidency, it does little to stop Trump from continuing to try to undermine confidence in the results with baseless allegations that have been rejected by judges across the political spectrum.

As Republicans began discussing a Biden presidency more openly on Tuesday, Trump still pledged to press forward with almost nonexistent legal options.

“Tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud. There has never been anything like this in our Country!” Trump tweeted just as members of his party were publicly recognizing Biden's victory.

Hours later, in an overnight tweet that referenced McConnell, Trump wrote: “Too soon to give up. Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!”

The growing acknowledgment of reality in Washington was triggered by the Electoral College formally voting on Monday to seal Biden’s win with 306 votes to Trump's 232, the same margin that Trump pulled together four years ago. The normally humdrum political ceremony didn’t change the facts of the election but was nonetheless used as political cover by leading Republicans.

“Many of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result,” McConnell said. “But our system of government has the processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. The Electoral College has spoken.”

The bureaucratic transition from Trump's government to Biden’s actually began weeks ago, despite the president’s legal challenges. Still, the suddenly conciliatory stance from many Republicans could thaw the political deep freeze that has gripped Washington lately.

Biden has been trying to build momentum as he prepares to assume the presidency while facing the historic challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans against the coronavirus. In some of his most forceful remarks since the election, Biden is calling for unity but also calling Trump's attacks on the voting process “unconscionable” and insisting it is time to “turn the page.'

“We need to work together, give each other a chance, and lower the temperature,” Biden said in a speech Monday.

Still, the shift coming so late in the tone from Republicans has left the president-elect with barely a month to finish building out key parts his new government. Some say the GOP about-face won't mean much at this point.

“Even them doing this now, the damage has been done because they’ve blocked, they’ve interrupted,” said Anthony Robinson, a former Obama administration appointee who served several national security policy roles including during the transition to the Trump administration in 2016.

“I don’t want to say, 'Who cares?,' but it definitely doesn’t symbolize a smooth transition,” said Robinson, who is now political director of the National Democratic Training Committee, which trains candidates and campaign staffers all over the country.

Biden's first priority will be the fair and efficient distribution of vaccines against the virus. The president-elect said Tuesday that he would follow the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, who says that getting the president-elect himself vaccinated as soon as possible is a matter of national security.

“Dr. Fauci recommends I get the vaccine sooner than later. I want to make sure we do it by the numbers,” Biden said, adding that he'd be immunized publicly, which could help build public trust in the vaccine.

Trump’s continued opposition to Biden, meanwhile, may still present roadblocks, especially in the U.S. House where Republicans as recently as last week were introducing legislation to punish members of their party who might be seen as urging Trump to “concede prematurely.” Other top Trump administration Cabinet officials haven't yet followed the lead of Pompeo, who plans to meet Thursday with Blinken, Biden’s secretary of state nominee.

“The president is still involved in ongoing litigation related to the election," said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, calling the Electoral College vote “one step in the constitutional process.”

Rick Tyler, a Republican operative and fierce Trump critic, said it seemed at first like "the Electoral College had broken the evil spell that Trump cast across the Republican Party.”

But he said the attacks on the electoral system that Trump is continuing to wage have many of his supporters now questioning American democracy itself— and that won’t quickly dissipate just because some Republicans and world leaders are now willing to say conciliatory things.

“There really are 50-plus million people who no longer have trust in our system, and that’s a dangerous thing,” said Tyler. He said Biden must "figure out a way to restore that trust. And it can’t just be a partisan attack on Republicans for, frankly, being stupid.”

Also looming large is the divided U.S. Senate, where majority control will depend on the outcome of two special elections in Georgia on Jan. 5. Unless Democrats win both those races, Senate Republicans will have the power to block many of Biden's Cabinet nominations, not to mention thwart his policy initiatives.

Underscoring the urgency on that score, Biden traveled Tuesday to Georgia, his first trip beyond Delaware and southeast Pennsylvania since the election.

“I need two senators from this state who want to get something done, not just get in the way,” Biden told a drive-in rally in Atlanta.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 587762

Reported Deaths: 7324
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1217771724
Ramsey50848870
Dakota45493446
Anoka41276436
Washington26615280
Stearns22077221
St. Louis17637302
Scott17137124
Wright15873139
Olmsted1316498
Sherburne1157185
Carver1041645
Clay811792
Rice7991106
Blue Earth744441
Crow Wing658688
Kandiyohi650683
Chisago589051
Otter Tail571778
Benton563697
Goodhue474972
Mower463732
Douglas463674
Winona451850
Itasca428053
McLeod420258
Morrison416260
Isanti415364
Nobles407148
Beltrami391058
Steele383915
Polk382268
Becker377950
Lyon359250
Carlton343553
Freeborn340729
Pine326222
Nicollet322743
Brown304040
Mille Lacs300352
Le Sueur288222
Todd280432
Cass269028
Meeker253740
Waseca236222
Martin229731
Roseau207519
Wabasha20473
Hubbard186341
Dodge18313
Renville178643
Redwood172636
Houston171315
Cottonwood164221
Fillmore155310
Wadena154522
Pennington153619
Chippewa151638
Faribault151119
Kanabec143224
Sibley142310
Aitkin133936
Watonwan13189
Rock127819
Jackson121811
Pipestone114726
Yellow Medicine113820
Pope10916
Murray10609
Swift104818
Stevens90211
Marshall87817
Clearwater86116
Koochiching81715
Lake80819
Wilkin80412
Lac qui Parle75022
Big Stone5984
Lincoln5773
Grant5678
Mahnomen5459
Norman5399
Unassigned48693
Kittson48422
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3213
Cook1590

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 365723

Reported Deaths: 5925
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57406622
Linn20778334
Scott19903240
Black Hawk15777308
Woodbury15105228
Johnson1444083
Dubuque13347209
Dallas1114698
Pottawattamie11082168
Story1058248
Warren575088
Clinton552792
Cerro Gordo537889
Sioux513474
Webster511493
Marshall482075
Muscatine476299
Des Moines453266
Wapello4288122
Buena Vista424240
Jasper417771
Plymouth400480
Lee374255
Marion361075
Jones297357
Henry290837
Carroll285152
Bremer283360
Crawford265840
Boone263334
Benton255455
Washington253650
Dickinson247843
Mahaska229551
Jackson221142
Kossuth215264
Clay215125
Tama209171
Delaware208740
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan190531
Cedar189223
Hardin184943
Fayette184741
Wright184236
Harrison179373
Hamilton179249
Clayton169456
Butler164634
Mills161722
Madison161419
Floyd160142
Cherokee158538
Lyon157541
Poweshiek154733
Allamakee150951
Iowa148224
Hancock147034
Winnebago141631
Cass137854
Calhoun137313
Grundy136233
Emmet134140
Jefferson132335
Shelby130537
Sac130119
Union128133
Appanoose127949
Louisa127849
Mitchell125842
Chickasaw123915
Guthrie120829
Humboldt118826
Franklin118121
Palo Alto112423
Howard104422
Montgomery103238
Clarke99824
Unassigned9770
Keokuk95531
Monroe95129
Ida90234
Adair86332
Pocahontas85322
Monona82830
Davis82524
Osceola78216
Greene77610
Lucas77123
Worth7428
Taylor65712
Fremont6229
Decatur6069
Van Buren55718
Ringgold55524
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Audubon50710
Adams3384
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