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On Night Before Inauguration, Biden Leads Mourning for Virus Victims

“It’s deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here, a place that defines the very best of who we are as Americans,” the president-elect said at a send-off ceremony at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center in New Castle, Del., named for the son who served in Iraq and as the state’s attorney general before dying of brain cancer in 2015. “I know these are dark times, but there’s always light. That’s what makes this state so special. That’s what it taught me: There’s always light.”

Paraphrasing James Joyce, who once said, “When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart,” Mr. Biden paused to compose himself and his voice trembled. “Excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart,” he said. Referring to Beau Biden, he added: “I only have one regret, that he’s not here. We should be introducing him as president.”

The president-elect flew to Washington rather than taking the train — the favorite mode of transportation for “Amtrak Joe” — because of security concerns less than two weeks after a mob encouraged by Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol and temporarily halted the counting of the Electoral College votes ratifying Mr. Biden’s victory.

He traveled by a chartered white and gray passenger jet, which itself was another break from custom. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all sent government planes to pick up their successors to bring them to the capital for their inaugurations, but Mr. Trump has made clear he has little interest in helping his successor, and Mr. Biden’s staff said they opted not to ask for an official jet.

After months of trying to overturn the results of the democratic election, Mr. Trump has scorned the traditional transition of power, refusing to invite Mr. Biden for the usual postelection visit to the White House and refusing to attend Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony.

But he did offer well wishes to his successor in his farewell video on Tuesday without actually using Mr. Biden’s name. “This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous,” Mr. Trump said. “We extend our best wishes and we also want them to have luck, a very important word.”

The president, who has not appeared in public in days and remained in seclusion at the White House in his final hours in office, used the 20-minute video posted online to frame his administration as a period of progress despite the pandemic and the assault on the Capitol.

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