Former President George W. Bush on Sunday became the most prominent Republican so far to congratulate “President-elect” Joe Biden while former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, suggested it may soon be time to “move on” from the president’s efforts to contest the election.
In a statement, Bush said he called Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who he referred to as the president-elect and vice president-elect respectively.
“I extended my warm congratulations and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night,” he said, adding, “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.”
Biden was on Saturday projected to win the presidency after securing more than 270 Electoral College votes. But Trump has not yet conceded the race, continuing to falsely claim he won the election while promoting unfounded claims of voter fraud.
“It was so important early on to say to the president, ‘If your basis for not conceding is that there was voter fraud, then show us,'” Christie told ABC’s “This Week.” “Show us. Because if you can’t show us, we can’t do this. We can’t back you blindly without evidence.”
“I’m hoping that more Republicans move in the direction of saying, not that we don’t support the president, he’s been a friend of mine for 20 years, but friendship doesn’t mean that you’re blind,” Christie added. “Friendship means that you’ll listen to somebody, give them their opportunity, and if they don’t come forward with the proof, then it’s time to move on.”
Bush said that while Trump “has the right” to pursue recounts and legal challenges, he appeared to suggest the efforts would not be successful.
“The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear,” Bush said.
Few elected Republicans have congratulated Biden on his victory so far, with the likes of Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, among them. Some, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have gone in the opposite direction, urging Trump on Sunday to “fight hard” and not concede.
Speaking with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders said the White House has yet to reach out to Biden and his team about the election. A source close to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said he has advised Trump “to pursue his legal remedies.”
Meanwhile, Biden’s margins in the key swing states are much larger than the amount by which past statewide recounts have changed vote spreads.
Trump “is who he is,” Romney told “State of the Union” on Sunday. “And he has a relatively relaxed relationship with the truth.”
“And so he’s going to keep on fighting until the every end,” Romney, the only Republican senator who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment hearing, continued. “But I’m convinced that once all remedies have been exhausted, if those are exhausted in a way that’s not favorable to him, he will accept the inevitable. But don’t expect him to go quietly into the night. That’s not how he operates.”
Romney also warned Trump to be “careful” about pushing rhetoric questioning the legitimacy of the election.
“The people in the past, like myself, who lost elections, have gone on in a way that said, ‘Look, I know the eyes of the world are on us. The eyes of our own people are on the institutions that we have. The eyes of history are on us,’” Romney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
On “This Week,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., echoed Christie in saying it’s time for the president’s legal team to present evidence of malfeasance.
“Well, what I said on Friday and what Chris Christie said just a few minutes ago on this show is it’s time for the president’s lawyers to present the facts and then it’s time for those facts to speak for themselves,” Blunt said, adding it “seems unlikely that any changes could be big enough to make a difference, but this is a close election — and we need to acknowledge that.”
Pointing to Biden’s primetime speech on Saturday, Blunt said he thought the former vice president “did a great job last night of talking about where the country wants to head.”
“I expect to see both Vice President Biden and President Trump on the stage on Inaugural Day, and that will be a powerful message, no matter which one of them is sworn in that day,” Blunt said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said he hasn’t “seen any evidence” of voter fraud, pointing out that some of the states Trump is contesting are run by Republicans.
“I don’t think we’re going to see anything that’s going to overturn this election,” he said, adding, “It’s time to get behind the winner of the race. … Hopefully the president’s team will do the right thing in the end.”
Sunday afternoon, retiring Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., tweeted: “Congratulations to Pres-elect Biden on a successful campaign.”
“All Americans need to come together to support Pres-elect Biden,” he continued. “Our nation will only be successful if the new admin is. We must work together to enact bipartisan legislation & solve the problems our country faces — that is how our system of government works. We have more that unite us than divide us, and now that the heat of battle has drawn to a close we must come together for the betterment of all our citizens.”