EXPLAINER: With no outcome yet, why does a candidate talk?

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to supporters Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del., as he stands next to his wife Jill Biden. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Andrew Harnik, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – Democrat Joe Biden addressed his supporters early Wednesday. It was not an acceptance speech or a concession speech. It was a plea for their patience while the votes are counted.

Voters are used to seeing and hearing from candidates after the results are in — win or lose. So why did the former vice president decide to talk at all?

One reason: Several states key to determining the outcome of the race against Republican President Donald Trump remained to be called as Wednesday was arriving in the east. Biden wanted to rally his supporters and encourage them to “keep the faith.”

Such speeches aren't unusual when vote counting becomes a slog. What was unusual Wednesday is that Biden spoke for himself, instead of assigning the task to a campaign aide.

Four years ago, Democrat Hillary Clinton sent her campaign chairman, John Podesta, to address her supporters at the Javits Center in New York City on election night. Podesta told the crowd that it had been a long night after a long campaign and that they should go home. Clinton had not yet conceded the race to Trump.

“It ain't over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted,” Biden said at a convention center in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. “But we're feeling good about where we are.”

Another motive was at play with his remarks.

Aides had said in the run-up to the election that they expected Biden to speak for himself, partly because they presumed Trump would speak at some point during the night. Biden didn't want to yield the stage to Trump and his megaphone, they said.

Immediately after Biden spoke, Trump tweeted: He'd be making a statement, too.


Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.