By Ken Bredemeier
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is planning to lay out a “positive, optimistic” vision for the country in his inaugural address on Wednesday and “try to turn the page on the divisiveness, and the hatred of the last four years” under outgoing President Donald Trump, a key Biden aide said Sunday.
Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s incoming communications director, told ABC’s “This Week” show that the new U.S. leader will “lay out a path forward that really calls on all of us to work together.”
She added, “I think that’s what Americans all across the country want. They want a government that once again is focused on doing the right thing by them and helping them in their day-to-day lives.”
“Eighty-one million Americans voted for President-elect Biden in part because he was laying out a vision for this country that gets us to a point where we can work together,” she said.
Biden is set to be inaugurated on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol at noon on the 20th in a ceremony that is steeped in U.S. history every four years. This time, however, it is fraught with tension after the January 6 storming of the Capitol by a mob of thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump. The outgoing president urged them to march to the building as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s victory in the Electoral College that is determinative of U.S. presidential elections.
The House of Representatives last week impeached Trump for a second time, accusing him of inciting insurrection, and his Senate trial is set to start soon after Biden’s inauguration. If convicted, Trump, the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, could be barred from ever again holding office.
The immediate area around the Capitol where Biden will take the oath of office to uphold the country’s Constitution and protect the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, is a virtual armed encampment, with fencing and concertina wire encircling the inaugural platform. Thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officials are already stationed there to protect against further violence.
But Bedingfield said, “Our plan and our expectation is that President-elect Biden will put his hand on the Bible with his family outside on the west side of the Capitol on the 20th.”
She said, “There is no question that, of course, we are in a volatile time. We only have to look at the chatter on social media” about the possibility of further protests. Trump has refused to concede his defeat or congratulate Biden while acknowledging there will be a “new administration” come Wednesday.
Trump, ignoring 160 years of U.S. tradition with an outgoing chief executive attending his predecessor’s swearing-in ceremony to demonstrate a peaceful transfer of U.S. power, has announced he plans to skip the inauguration, although Vice President Mike Pence is planning to attend.
Trump instead is planning to leave Washington on Wednesday morning with a red-carpet ceremony as he boards Air Force One for a flight to his Atlantic Ocean retreat in Florida. Before he leaves office, however, Trump is expected to grant several more pardons, possibly to key supporters convicted of crimes or facing trials.
Bedingfield said that starting Monday, the Biden transition team is holding “daily meetings with the outgoing leadership in national security and law enforcement to make sure we’re ensuring we’re prepared for any scenario that should arise on January 20th.
She said the Biden team has “full faith in the United States Secret Service and their partners who have been working for over a year on the planning to ensure (the inauguration) is safe. We’re much looking forward to President-elect Biden putting his hand on the Bible on January 20th.”
Once in power, Biden plans to quickly overturn numerous Trump policies.
Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Saturday night that Biden “is assuming the presidency in a moment of profound crisis for our nation. We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis.”
Klain said that Biden will “take immediate action” and “sign dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and directives to Cabinet agencies in fulfillment of the promises he made…not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration, but also to start moving our country forward.”
Klain said that on Inauguration Day, Biden would “sign roughly a dozen actions to combat the four crises, restore humanity to our immigration system, and make government function for the people.”
Among them, Klain said, would be orders to “extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions of Americans with federal student loans,” to have the U.S. re-join the Paris climate change agreement and to reverse the ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
Klain said the new president would challenge Americans to wear face masks for 100 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and make mask wearing mandatory on federal property and in interstate travel.
He said Biden would issue other orders in the succeeding days to combat the virus that has killed nearly 400,000 Americans and to speed up vaccinations against it.