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The Latest From Trump And Biden's Campaigns As Key States Continue Vote Counts

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Still no decision. Joe Biden's lead has widened as key states Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada continue counting ballots. He remains six electoral votes away from being declared president-elect as President Trump's path to victory has narrowed. Last night in Delaware, Mr. Biden urged patience.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: 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.

SIMON: Joined now by NPR's political correspondent Asma Khalid and White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. Welcome both. Thanks very much.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Thank you.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hi there.

SIMON: And, Asma, where do the results stand now?

KHALID: Well, Joe Biden needs essentially just one more state to nudge him to that 270 electoral vote threshold. He has the lead now in three key states where ballots are still being counted. Those are Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia. But the leads are slim. You know, he's up by less than half a percentage point in both Pennsylvania and Georgia. Georgia, we have a sense from election officials, will be headed to a recount. Nevada, he is up by an almost full two points, but there, a greater percentage of ballots are still remaining to be counted.

You know, I will say, Scott, early in the day on Friday, the Biden campaign seemed to think that this race was going to be called before the weekend. They announced that Joe Biden would give this primetime speech. But as we headed into the evening, it became clear that was not going to happen in the same way that they imagined.

SIMON: We heard his call for patience. What else did he say?

KHALID: You know, he's called for ballots to be counted. He has said that this can be a slow and messy process, but it's necessary. At the same time, though, he has been increasingly projecting confidence as the days go on about his own odds in winning this race. Last night, he says the numbers tell a, quote, "clear and convincing story that we are going to win this race." I will say, at the same time, he does seem to be trying to offer this message of unity, saying that Americans need to remember that the purpose of our politics is not to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems.

SIMON: And, Franco, let me ask you about the view from the White House. What have you learned about the president's reaction to the race and what advisers see as his options, if any?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. I mean, the president is being a little bit more quiet. We did not see him yesterday. He released a statement that he was going - he was not going to give up. But we're also learning that there's been some challenging conversations in the White House recently. A former campaign aide actually tells me the president is being advised that his legal options are limited. But it's been hard for him. The president really didn't think he could lose. And frankly, for many in Trump world, they didn't think he could lose either. You know, he still wants to fight for the people who voted for him, the 70 million people. But it's also dawning on him, I'm told, that even if he were to win some of these legal challenges, he still may not be able to get the 270 electoral votes he needs to win for reelection.

SIMON: And in this maelstrom of events, according to reports, the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has tested positive for the coronavirus. What do you know about that?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. That's - according to multiple news outlets, the president's chief of staff has tested positive. Meadows is just the latest in the president's inner circle to contract the virus that's, you know, killed more than 230,000 Americans. He was last seen by reporters on election night when President Trump addressed supporters, you know, who are packed into the East Room of the White House. And he gave that very defiant speech. You know, and there were a lot of other people there, too, not wearing masks. So we're watching that very carefully.

SIMON: Asma, what should we watch today?

KHALID: Well, we are in a bit of a holding pattern. You know, essentially, I'm looking to see if any one of those states we mentioned earlier, particularly Pennsylvania or Nevada, will be called today. I would say it's highly unlikely you're going to see Joe Biden preemptively declare victory until this race has been called because that's the criticism Democrats have had of President Trump's behavior.

SIMON: That's NPR's Asma Khalid and Franco Ordoñez. Thanks very much, both of you, for being with us.

KHALID: My pleasure.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.