The election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. elicited powerful reactions across the nation but few are resonating as deeply as the emotional on-air response to President Trump’s defeat by the CNN contributor Van Jones — who invoked George Floyd’s dying words in expressing his sense of relief and vindication.
“‘I can’t breathe’ — that wasn’t just George Floyd, that was a lot of people who felt they couldn’t breathe,” said Mr. Jones, a former Obama administration official, breaking down in tears moments after the network called the race for Mr. Biden.
“You spend so much of your life energy just trying to hold it together,” added Mr. Jones, who is Black. “And this is a big deal for us just to be able get some peace and have a chance for a reset.”
Mr. Jones said that Mr. Trump had made it acceptable to show “racism” overtly, and said he feared for his family’s safety under his presidency.
“And it’s easier for a whole lot of people,” after Mr. Trump’s defeat, he said. “If you’re Muslim in this country, you don’t have to worry that the president doesn’t want you here. If you’re an immigrant, you don’t have to worry if the president is going to be happy to have babies snatched away.”
As thousands of people cheered, danced and honked their horns in New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta, Mr. Jones summed up the feelings of many Trump critics, overcome with relief that Mr. Trump had been vanquished.
“This is vindication for a lot of people who really have suffered,” he said, as he began to sob. “It is a good day for this county. I am sorry for the people who lost, but for most, this is a good day.”
Mr. Jones’s opinion was not universally shared, not even on CNN’s set.
Former Representative Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican, questioned calling the race in his home state until all provisional ballots were tallied, saying the race was “not over.”