Trump triumphs, calls on Americans to unite ‘It is time for us to come together’
Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States, marking the first time in America’s history that voters have chosen to send a candidate without military or government experience to the Oval Office.
Trump’s election is the culmination of Americans’ dissatisfaction with the established political order and a brutal awakening for Democratic and GOP critics who relentlessly bemoaned his economic nationalism, populist positions and nostalgia-fueled campaign for the better half of an extraordinary election cycle.
It is just as much an astonishing feat for a candidate whose principal professional experience has been in the private sector and whose bare-bones campaign left many viewing his victory as more improbable than the Miracle on the Hudson.The twice-divorced septuagenarian defeated Hillary Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, and the first-ever woman nominated for the presidency by a major political party. Clinton, who Trump branded “Crooked Hillary” early on in their race, was seen as the odds-on favorite by pundits and prediction markets through the eve of the election.
Stay abreast of the latest developments from nation’s capital and beyond with curated News But as the returns came in and Trump eked out victories in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, betting markets and respected forecasts began shifting rapidly toward the Republican nominee. By 11 p.m. ET, The New York Times’ presidential forecast had made a 180-degree turn, giving Trump a 95 percent chance or greater of winning the presidency.
“I’ve just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us – it’s about us – and I congratulated her and her family on a very hard-fought campaign,” Trump informed supporters at his election-night headquarters in his first appearance as the President-elect.
“It is time for us to come together,” he said. “To all Republicans and Democrats and Independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans and this is so important to me.”
Trump lauded former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for their hard work after he thanked his family and members of his campaign. He was introduced by his running mate, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who appeared to choke back tears as he reflected on their tremendous victory.
“It is almost hard for me to express the honor that I and my family feel that we will have the privilege to serve as your Vice President of the United States of America,” Pence said, drawing thunderous applause. “I’m deeply grateful to the American people for placing their confidence in this team and giving us the opportunity to serve.”
Even to his detractors, Trump offered a warm embrace: “I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help.”
Clinton declined to deliver a concession speech Wednesday morning. The defeated Democratic nominee sent her campaign chairman to New York’s Javits Center shortly after 2 a.m. ET to encourage her supporters to “go home and get some sleep.”
“Several states are too close to call, so we’re not going to have anything more to say tonight,” John Podesta told the crowd, who had gathered less than two miles from Trump’s celebration in midtown Manhattan.
Fox News projected a victory for Trump in Pennsylvania minutes after Podesta concluded, putting the GOP nominee over the 270-vote threshold needed to win the presidency – a moment met with deafening applause inside the ballroom where he would soon deliver his victory speech.
Republicans also held on to their Senate and House majorities, giving the party unified control of the federal government’s elected branches for the first time since George W. Bush’s administration.
Up until her campaign’s bitter end on Tuesday, Clinton was constantly challenged by her teflon opponent. Rarely did Trump see a reduction in enthusiasm or crowd size at his signature campaign rallies after landing himself at the center of controversy. Trump’s bid for the White House infamously began with him calling illegal Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists” from the lobby of his gilded Fifth Avenue skyscraper, and saw dozens more provocative comments along the way.
Ads run by Clinton’s campaign in the final few weeks of the election featured audio or video clips of Trump mocking a disabled New York Times reporter, questioning an esteemed Republican senator’s war hero status, promising to “knock the shit out of ISIS,” and bragging about grabbing women “by the p—-y” because of his wealth and celebrity credentials.
Beyond what was featured in his opponent’s advertisements, Trump routinely humiliated his Republican rivals with degrading nicknames (“Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted”), launched racially tinged attacks against a U.S. district court judge, implied that Fox News’ Megyn Kelly was menstruating when she asked him a tough question at the first GOP primary debate, initially declined to disavow the support of former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, feuded with a Gold Star family and indulged in various conspiracy theories, including one about Sen. Ted Cruz’s father.
Any of the above improprieties would have sunk the campaign of an alternative GOP presidential nominee, polling experts and veteran campaign operatives regularly opined. But Trump survived, though not without facing an onslaught of scrutiny each time from critics across the political spectrum.
Of course, much about Trump’s meteoric rise to the top of his party’s presidential ticket, and now his success in becoming America’s next commander-in-chief, is unique.
Trump defeated 16 Republican opponents, the largest field of candidates in a century, before primary voting had even concluded in May, and made a swift comeback against Clinton in late October despite failing to deliver a standout performance in any of their three one-on-one debates. Between those moments, he went through two campaign managers, staved off a contested GOP convention in July – much to the chagrin of the party’s “Never Trump” faction – and reached double-digit polling deficits in a number of battleground states.
The blustery billionaire rolled to victory on Tuesday with the help of his blue collar base and voters who felt disconnected and estranged from their government, as well as white evangelical Christians and non-college-educated white men and women. Such voters ensconced themselves in Trump’s camp early after gravitating toward his hardline immigration plan, protectionist trade policies and unprecedented disdain for the media establishment and career politicians.
“This is not a mindless reaction by the American people. I think it is a frustration that has been building for a number of years,” Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who became an adviser to Trump in the early days of his campaign, told the Washington Examiner as election returns poured in Tuesday night.
Other voters were steered toward the GOP nominee by Pence, a soft-spoken social conservative stalwart who balanced the ticket, or by popular surrogates like Dr. Ben Carson, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka.
Trump has vowed to deliver on a number of ambitious promises as president: to repeal and replace Obamacare with an alternative that promotes market competition and reins in rising health-care costs, to rebuild America’s “depleted” military, to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, to renegotiate “disastrous trade deals,” to disassemble many of his predecessor’s executive orders, to reform the federal income tax code and to end radical Islamic terrorism in the Middle East.
“My sole and exclusive mission is to go to work for our country – to go to work for all of you,” he told Republicans at their nominating convention in July.
At a major speech last month in the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg, Trump introduced his “contract with the American voter.” He promised to impose term limits on members of Congress, begin removing criminal illegal immigrants from the country, nominate a Supreme Court justice in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia, and work tirelessly to “restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities and honesty to our government.”
Trump was indefatigable throughout his 18-month campaign, often quipping that Clinton was “sleeping beautifully” when he would take the stage for 9 o’clock rallies or spend the evening before their debates greeting thousands of supporters in a faraway state. In the final month, after weathering the fallout of the “Access Hollywood” tape and rejecting subsequent allegations of sexual assault, he poured another $10 million into his campaign and worked longer, harder and smarter than he had at any previous point in the race.
Trump spent the final 72 hours of the election zig-zagging across the country in his Boeing 757, visiting multiple states a day where polls had tightened in the eleventh hour. On Sunday, he held his first and last rally in Minnesota, encountered a security scare at an event in Reno, Nev., and closed out the night in Virginia. He then traveled to Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Michigan on Monday, promising voters at each campaign stop to deliver a “Brexit-plus” on Tuesday.
After early voting data became available in a handful of key swing states, initial signs pointed to a Clinton victory – a prediction Trump and his closest confidantes flatly rejected.
“We’re going to win Michigan. You know what we’re going to win? We’re going to win Minnesota,” he proclaimed on Monday. “We’re leading big in Ohio. We’re leading in Iowa. We’re leading in New Hampshire… We’re leading in North Carolina. We’re doing very, very well in Pennsylvania.”
Trump’s remarkable victory brings to an end one of the most dramatic, unpredictable and historic contests in American political history between the two most disliked presidential candidates in decades. As Trump prepares to move from the Empire State to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he will be forced to consider the overwhelming task that lies ahead: governing a divided nation with a political system consumed by polarization and a citizenry desperate for healing.
Trump promised to make America great again, often telling his supporters: “We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.'”
Now it is time to see if President Donald J. Trump will deliver.
By Gabby Morrongiello