Clinton, Obama urge unity behind Trump
Gone was the ballroom with a soaring glass ceiling, the confetti and the celebrity guest stars. Instead, Hillary Clinton looked out to a group of griefstricken aides and tearful supporters, as she acknowledged her stunning loss of the presidency to Donald Trump.
“This is painful,” Clinton said, her voice cracking with emotion, “and it will be for a long time.” But she told her faithful to accept Trump and the election results, urging them to give him “an open mind and a chance to lead.”
Flanked by her husband, daughter Chelsea and running mate Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton said she had offered to work with Trump on behalf of a country that she acknowledged was “more deeply divided than we thought.”
Before Clinton took the stage at a New York City hotel, top aides filed in, eyes red and shoulders slumped, as they tried to process the celebrity businessman’s shocking win after a campaign that appeared poised until Election Day to make Clinton the first woman elected president of the United States.
Clinton, who twice sought the presidency, told women: “I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling. But someday, someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.” Her remarks brought to mind her 2008 concession speech after the Democratic primaries in which she spoke of putting “18 million cracks” in the glass ceiling.
“To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams,” she said as her husband, former President Bill Clinton, stood wistfully by her side.
A short time later, in an awkward political ritual in the Rose Garden of the White House, President Barack Obama urged the nation to join him in rooting for President-elect Donald
We all want what’s best for this country.” US President Barack Obama
Trump’s success, even as he and his shell-shocked aides prepared to watch a successor undo much of their work.
Conceding Hillary Clinton’s staggering loss, Obama vowed to do all he could to facilitate a smooth transition and to ensure Trump would be well-positioned to run the country when he takes office Jan. 20. In a brief conversation, he’d congratulated Trump by phone and invited him to sit down together Thursday at the White House.
“We all want what’s best for this country,” Obama said.
Obama delivered his sunny call for unity from the Rose Garden, much as his predecessor President George W. Bush had after Obama’s victory in 2008. It was a symbolic moment meant to signal the calm transfer of power from one president to the next.
But it was also a bit of counseling for devastated Democrats. Obama spoke to more than a hundred of his White House staffers, who stood silently, dazed, some crying, before breaking out into a prolonged round of applause that continued long after Obama returned to the Oval Office.
Obama made no direct reference to Trump’s vows to erase much of what Obama has accomplished. He downplayed the notion that Trump’s presidency would mean an aboutface for the nation. He said the US has a tendency to “zig and zag” rather than move in a straight line, and he added, “That’s OK.”