Bush congratulates Biden, says Trump has right to pursue recount

A general view of the White House in Washington in this September 30, 2013 file photo. | REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Former President George W. Bush said President Donald Trump, who hasn’t conceded defeat to presumptive President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election, has the “right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges” so that the “American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair.”

“The fact that so many of our fellow citizens participated in this election is a positive sign of the health of our democracy and a reminder to the world of its strength,” Bush said in a statement.

While Bush, a Republican, referred to Democratic nominee Biden as the “president-elect,” he said Trump can ask for a recount to ensure to Americans that the "integrity" of the election is upheld and that the "outcome is clear." 

The former president said he talked to both Biden and presumptive Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to extend his congratulations and offer prayers.

"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," Bush stated. "The President-elect reiterated that while he ran as a Democrat, he will govern for all Americans. I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can."

Bush also congratulated “President Trump and his supporters on a hard-fought campaign.”

“He earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans – an extraordinary political achievement,” Bush said. “They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government.”

Biden declared victory on Saturday, after The Associated Press called the race for him, followed by ABC, NBC, CNN, and FOX News, and projected him as the winner of Pennsylvania, putting the Democratic nominee at 273 votes in the Electoral College. 

Reacting to the projection, Biden said he was “honored” that he was chosen to lead the nation.

“America, I’m 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,” Biden said in a statement on Twitter.

The Trump campaign responded to the developments by releasing a statement from Trump, in which he said the election was “far from over.”

In his “victory” speech Saturday night, Biden called his win “clear” and “convincing.”

“For all those of you who voted President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight,” he said. “I’ve lost a couple of times myself, but now let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans. They are Americans.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, also supported Trump’s call for recounts. “He has every right to call for recounts,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Because we’re talking about a margin of 10,000 votes here, or less in some cases. And so a recount could change the outcome. He wants to look at irregularities, pursue that in the court. But if, as expected, those things don’t change the outcome, why, he will accept the inevitable.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also backed Trump. He told Fox News on Sunday, “We will work with Biden if he wins, but Trump has not lost. Do not concede, Mr. President. Fight hard,” according to The Epoch Times.

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