Washington — Former President George W. Bush, the only living Republican ex-president, extended congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Sunday while appealing to the American people to come together in the wake of a bruising political campaign.
In a statement, Mr. Bush revealed he spoke with Mr. Biden and Harris on the phone and said he offered the president-elect "my prayers for his success and my pledge to help in any way I can." The former president also marked Harris's historic election, as she will be the first woman vice president and the first Black vice president.
"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," Mr. Bush said.
The two-term 43rd president, who has seldom waded into partisan politics since leaving office in 2009, also extended congratulations to President Trump and his supporters, calling the more than 70 million votes he received "an extraordinary political achievement."
Marking the high number of voters who cast ballots in the general election, Mr. Bush said the voter turnout is a "positive sign of the health of our democracy and a reminder to the world of its strength."
"No matter how you voted, your vote counted," he said. "President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated. The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld and its outcome is clear."
Mr. Bush said the nation faces difficult challenges that "will demand the best of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris — and the best of us all" and urged the American people to unite.
"We must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future," he said. "There is no problem that will not yield to the gathered will of a free people."
Bush urged the country to "join us in wishing our next president and vice president well as they prepare to take up their important duties."