Updated Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Inaugural address: Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

What they're saying: "This is America's day. This is democracy's day. The day of history and hope. Of renewal and resolve," Biden said.

  • "Through a crucible through the ages, America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause. The cause of democracy," he continued.
  • "Democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed."

Biden vowed to "confront domestic terrorism," and channeled former President Abraham Lincoln in his pledge to help "bring America together and united our nation."

  • "This is a great nation. We are good people." Biden said. "But victory is never assured."
  • Biden directly addressed Trump's supporters and asked them to "hear me out" before vowing to be "a president for all Americans." "We must end this uncivil war."
  • Trump, breaking with tradition, did not attend his successor's inauguration.

Biden at one point in the speech led the country in prayer, acknowledging he will take on the presidency at a time the U.S. remains polarized and in the grips of a coronavirus crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

  • "We will press forward with speed and urgency," he said. "For we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain."
  • "My whole soul is in it. Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this."

What to watch: While Biden's speech included olive branches to Trump supporters, his immediate actions are aimed at reversing many of the policies that Trump imposed in the opening days of his presidency.

  • After the speech, Biden will return to the White House, where he served as vice president just eight years ago, with 15 executive actions awaiting his presidential signature.
  • His flurry of executive actions is the start of an ambitious agenda to reverse much of Trump's legacy.

Read the full speech.

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