Joe Biden has again said he is confident of victory as he inches closer to beating Donald Trump after Tuesday’s US presidential election.
The Democratic challenger now has 253 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to clinch the White House under the state-by-state US voting system.
Mr Biden also leads vote counts in the battlegrounds of Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
A Biden win would see Mr Trump leave office in January after four years.
What did Biden say?
“We’re going to win this race,” Mr Biden told supporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday night, striking an increasingly confident tone as vote tallies showed his lead extending. He was joined by his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris.
He said he was on track to win more than 300 Electoral College votes and pointed out that more people had voted for his campaign – over 74 million people – than any US presidential candidate in history.
Mr Biden said Americans had given him a mandate to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the struggling economy, climate change and systemic racism.
The Democrat – presenting himself as the candidate of unity after a bitterly fought campaign – said it was time to “get the vitriol out of our politics” and “be civil to one another”.
“We may be opponents but we’re not enemies, we’re Americans,” said Mr Biden, who did not mention his Republican opponent, Mr Trump.
Mr Biden’s appearance had originally been planned as a victory speech, but he opted instead to give a general update on the state of the race as US TV networks cautiously held off declaring him the winner.
The Democrat said he hoped to address Americans again on Saturday.
Joe Biden delivered a holding speech rather than a victory speech, but he hit all the familiar themes that will no doubt feature if and when he addresses the nation as president-elect.
He’s been remarkably consistent throughout the campaign – that’s part of his appeal in these chaotic times. He hailed the election results so far as a broad mandate for change, although they’re not the resounding repudiation of President Trump for which the Democrats had hoped. Once again he presented himself as a leader who believes in America, who could unify the bitterly divided country – “the purpose of politics isn’t total unrelenting warfare” he said.
In the same breath he nodded to his own impatience for an outcome, and presented a stark contrast President Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. Watching the ballot tallies is “slow and numbing” he said, but they represent people who “exercise the fundamental right to have their voices heard.
Mr Biden – who ran twice previously for the White House, in 1988 and 2008, without success – would be the oldest president ever inaugurated at 78.
If he is declared the victor this weekend, his team is expected to begin its transition process on Monday.
The Secret Service has sent reinforcements to Delaware to beef up Mr Biden’s security detail. The Federal Aviation Administration has restricted flights over Wilmington’s airspace.
However, there is no indication Mr Trump will concede to his opponent in the short term.