Joe Biden has said he has a “mandate for action” as he edged closer to becoming US president.
In an address to supporters late on Friday night, the Democrat said: “The numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: we’re going to win this race.”
Biden struck a more confident tone than his previous speech in the aftermath of the election day, which placed emphasis on patience.
He referred to the 74 million people who had voted for him, adding: “I know watching these vote tallies on TV moves very slow and as slow as it goes it can be numbing.
“But never forget the tallies aren’t just numbers, they represent votes and voters, men and women who exercised their fundamental right to have their voice heard.
“And what’s becoming clear each hour is that a record number of Americans of all races, faiths, religions chose change over more of the same. They’ve given us a mandate for action, on Covid, the economy, climate change, systemic racism.”
He added how the party has “rebuilt the blue wall in the middle of the country that crumbled just a few years ago”.
It was a reference to Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – the latter has yet to be declared for him.
Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, just before 11pm on Friday local time, he said: “We don’t have a final declaration, a victor yet, but the numbers tell us a clear and convincing story.
“We’re going to win this race, just look at what has happened since yesterday.
“24 hours (ago), we were behind in Georgia, now we’re ahead, and we’re going to win that state.
“24 hours ago, we were behind in Pennsylvania and we are going to win Pennsylvania. Now we’re ahead, we’re winning in Arizona, winning in Nevada, in fact our lead just doubled in Nevada.”
Democratic candidate Biden addressed the nation after he took the lead in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania and Georgia in what could prove to be decisive moments in a fraught election.
It came as Biden was on the cusp of becoming the 46th president of the United States as his campaign threatened to remove “trespassers” following Trump’s defiance at the developing picture.
But Trump signalled he would not go quietly from the Oval Office, warning his rival off declaring victory in the speech.
He tweeted: “Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the president. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!
“I had such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear as the days went by. Perhaps these leads will return as our legal proceedings move forward!”
The Biden campaign has refrained from declaring a win but was forthright in its reply to an earlier outburst by Trump, in which he made unsubstantiated claims about “illegal ballots” in the election.
“As we said on July 19, the American people will decide this election,” the campaign said in a statement.
“And the United States Government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
Biden finished with an appeal for calm. He said: “I know tensions can be high after a tough election like the one we’ve had. But we need to remain calm. Patient. And let the process work out as we count all the votes.
“We are proving again what we have proved for 244 years in this country: Democracy works. Your vote will be counted.
“I don’t care how hard people try to stop it. I will not let it happen.
“No matter who you voted for, I’m certain of one thing: The vast majority of the 150 million Americans who voted want to get the vitriol out of our politics. We’re certainly not going to agree on a lot of the issues but we can at least agree to be civil to one another.
“We have to put the anger – and the demonisation – behind us.”
With forecasters putting him just one state from victory, Biden surpassed the president in swing states on Friday as officials continued counting votes.
The former vice president overhauled the Republican incumbent’s leads by more than 9,000 votes in Pennsylvania and 4,235 in Georgia, where a recount has been ordered.
Trump, who is mounting legal challenges to improve his chances of re-election amid baseless allegations of fraud, has to win both of those states if he is to stay in contention.
Georgia, which the president won by more than 200,000 votes in 2016, has not been won by the Democrats since 1992. Pennsylvania, Biden’s birth state, was narrowly seized from the Democrats by Mr Trump in the last election.
The winner needs to collect 270 electoral college votes by winning states.
Victory in Pennsylvania, where around 5% of ballots still need counting, would hand the presidency to Biden with its 20 votes.
Georgia, with 16 electoral votes, is a more complicated scenario.
Not everyone agrees that Biden has beyond all probability won in Arizona, and without that Georgia would leave him one vote short of overall victory.
He has secured victories in the battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan, but Nevada and North Carolina also remain too close to call after Tuesday’s election.
The Trump campaign requested a recount in Wisconsin and filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.
But judges in Michigan and Georgia dismissed the actions launched by the Trump campaign. Additional legal action was also expected in Nevada, the campaign indicated.
The Associated Press news agency has projected Biden as winning Arizona and its 11 electoral college votes.
That looks likely as he has a strong lead with more than 90% of the votes tallied but Trump’s campaign disagrees and other news organisations are not so certain.
The appearance of Biden coming back from behind is an artificial one. Many of the outstanding ballots are postal votes and absentee ballots which are being added to the tally later than their in-person counterparts.