Biden’s Inauguration Day: From Oath-Taking To Honouring COVID-19 Victims

US President-Elect Joe Biden speaks at Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard /Reserve Center in New Castle Airport on January 19, 2021, in New Castle, Delaware, before departing for Washington, DC.
JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Joe Biden will be sworn in on Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, during a day steeped in tradition and ceremony that nonetheless has been altered due to the pandemic and tight security after the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 17: A tent is seen outside of the Blair House, where President-elect Joe Biden will stay the night before this week’s inauguration on January 17, 2021
Sarah Silbiger / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Night at Blair House

Biden and his wife Jill will spend Tuesday night in the lavish Blair House, located opposite the White House on Lafayette Square, that the US government uses to host special guests and visiting dignitaries.

Religious services

On Wednesday morning Biden, a devout Catholic, will attend Mass at St Matthews church in Washington, and has invited Congressional leaders from both political parties.

Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman Kevin McCarthy will represent the Republicans, while Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi will also attend, sources have told AFP.

Taking the oath

Biden will then travel in a motorcade to the Capitol, the site of the January 6 riot by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, where the inauguration ceremony gets underway at 11:00 am (1600 GMT).

He will be sworn in after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes her vow, then will give his inaugural speech, during which he is expected to outline his vision to tackle America’s multiple crises and his plan to “build back better.”

The National Mall that runs from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial will be closed due to Covid-19 fears and because of tight security stemming from the January 6 attack.

Lady Gaga is due to sing the national anthem, while Jennifer Lopez is also set to give a musical performance.

As is custom, the newly inaugurated 46th US president will then dine with members of Congress in the Capitol building.

Arlington National Cemetery

In the afternoon, Biden will head to Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Trump, who is shunning the day’s events, will not be there.

 

Members of the National Guard gather near the US Capitol, ahead of the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Washington, DC on January 19, 2021. .
Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

White House

From Arlington, Biden will travel by motorcade to the White House and is expected make the last part of the journey on foot and enter his new home surrounded by a military cordon.

Biden is due to sign his first executive orders shortly after arriving.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 17: Members of Florida National Guard stand guard at the Lincoln Memorial on January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Raedle/Getty Images/AFP
JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Honoring the pandemic’s victims

At 8:25 pm, Biden and Harris will give a speech at the Lincoln Memorial, honoring the 400,000 people that have died from Covid-19 in America.

Shortly after, actor Tom Hanks will host a show called “Celebrating America” that will be broadcast on all major US networks.

Jon Bon Jovi, the Foo Fighters, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Luis Fonsi are among the guests expected to perform.

AFP

US Campaign Enters Final Day With Nation On Edge


JIM WATSON, SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

The US presidential campaign enters its final day Monday with a last-minute scramble for votes by Donald Trump and Joe Biden, drawing to a close an extraordinary race that has put a pandemic-stricken country on edge.

But while campaigning will halt and voters will have their say on Tuesday, many questions remain over how soon a result will be known due to a flood of mail-in ballots and possible legal challenges.

Those factors, along with an unprecedented convergence of social justice protests, coronavirus precautions and President Trump’s fear-mongering campaign, have led to apprehension over whether unrest could erupt.

Taking no chances, businesses in some cities have boarded up windows, while across the country the harsh political climate has led to fierce debate, in some cases even dividing families.

As proof of how much Americans have been galvanized — and perhaps frightened by the pandemic — a record of more than 93 million people have cast early ballots, including in-person and mailed votes, according to the nonpartisan US Elections Project.

As the hours count down on Monday and with polls showing him behind, Trump will repeat his marathon performance from the previous day with another set of five rallies in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Biden will also be in Pennsylvania — including for a drive-in rally with pop star Lady Gaga — as well as in Cleveland, Ohio.

Seeking to energize Democrats and prevent a 2016-like surprise, Barack Obama will appear in Georgia before holding an election-eve rally in Miami.

– ‘Talk of the world’ –

On Sunday, Trump and Biden drove home their closing arguments — and the president said his supporters would again shock the world.

In Georgia, wearing his familiar red campaign hat, the 74-year-old Republican said: “It’s going to be the talk of the world.”

Wrapping up a long day, he held a rally that didn’t begin until shortly before midnight in Opa-Locka, Florida, a crucial state for him which polls show is a tossup.

Crowds there chanted “fire Fauci” — referring to the widely respected government infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, who has drawn White House anger over his outspokenness on the need to do more to rein in Covid-19.

“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said in response.

Biden set a very different pace, beginning the day attending Mass with his wife Jill at a Catholic church near their home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Afterward, at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, the 77-year-old former vice president said: “In two days, we can put an end to a presidency that has divided this nation.”

“It’s time to stand up, take back our democracy,” he said.

– Poll warnings –

Nationally, polls have consistently put Biden well ahead, and a RealClearPolitics average of surveys had him up 7.2 percentage points Sunday.

But there have been repeated warnings from both camps that the polls could be wrong — like in 2016.

Trump has held an exhausting string of raucous rallies with crowds pressed together, many of them without masks.

Biden has held far fewer rallies with much more caution — usually socially distanced drive-up gatherings — and has taken care to wear a mask.

That decision has resulted in mockery from Trump, playing down the dangerousness of the virus even though he was hospitalized over it.

The former reality show star and real estate mogul has called for businesses and schools to reopen, talking up signs of an economic recovery though economists say underlying factors are tenuous.

Biden has embraced the criticism and doubled down, repeatedly hammering away at the president’s “almost criminal” handling of the pandemic, saying it had cost tens of thousands of lives.

The virus has been resurgent across the country, with more than 230,000 dead since the start of the pandemic.

– ‘Steal this election’ –

Fears of tensions on election night and afterward were further stoked by a report that Trump could declare victory prematurely.

The Axios news site reported Sunday that Trump has told confidants he would declare victory Tuesday night if it looks like he’s ahead.

Trump called it a “false report” but repeated his argument that “I don’t think it’s fair that we have to wait for a long period of time after the election.”

He has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that mail-in ballots are open to fraud, warning of “bedlam” if no clear winner emerges quickly.

Asked about the report, Biden said: “The president is not going to steal this election.”

In yet another sign of how tense the race has become, Biden also denounced the alleged harassment of one of his campaign buses by Trump supporters on a Texas highway — an incident the FBI confirmed it was investigating.

Americans have meanwhile been showing up nationwide to cast early ballots.

“The future of our country is at risk,” said 66-year-old Carmen Gomez, who wore a mask as she arrived on the last day of early voting in Florida on Sunday.

-AFP

US Football Star Rapinoe Backs Democrat Warren For 2020 Election

 

United States soccer star Megan Rapinoe said Friday she is backing Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 US presidential election.

Rapinoe, one of the cornerstones of the USA’s victory in the Women’s World Cup in July, announced her endorsement for the progressive Massachusetts senator in a post on Twitter.

“I truly believe the best things in life are a result of being bold and being real,” the 34-year-old said.

“I’m proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren today, for being bold, for being real, for listening to ALL of us, and for being prepared to navigate the unique challenges we face today as a country,” Rapinoe added.

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The post was accompanied by a video showing Rapinoe and Warren speaking in a phone conversation.

“I just wanted to call and say thank you, we need you in this battle,” Warren tells Rapinoe in the conversation.

Rapinoe responds by saluting Warren’s campaign for the presidency.

“I just think that it’s amazing,” Rapinoe says. “It’s big, it’s bold. I just don’t think we can get to a better place by walking this moderate line.”

Rapinoe has been a prominent supporter for progressive causes throughout her career, drawing attention this year for her advocacy of social justice off the field.

As well as leading the fight for equal pay for the US women’s soccer team, she locked horns with President Donald Trump during the World Cup, when she reiterated that the team would not attend a White House reception if they won the tournament.

Warren is among the frontrunners in a crowded but narrowing field of Democrats who have thrown their hat into the race to be the nominee to challenge Trump for the White House in 2020.

She thanked Rapinoe for her endorsement in a separate tweet.

“I’m so grateful to have you on @TeamWarren. I promise to fight shoulder-to-shoulder alongside you for equal pay and the bold, structural change our country needs,” she said.

AFP