‘A CHANCE TO LEAD’
Clinton, Obama urge unity after Trump’s stunning win
Emboldened Republicans claimed a mandate Wednesday for President-elect Donald Trump after his astonishing election triumph, and an emotional Hillary Clinton told crestfallen supporters the GOP victor deserved a “chance to lead.” President Barack Obama pledged a smooth transition of power.
“We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” Obama said of the president-elect, the man who spent years questioning Obama’s birthplace and challenging the legitimacy of his presidency. Obama, who had declared Trump unfit for the presidency, invited him to the White House Thursday.
Trump was uncharacteristically quiet in the aftermath of his triumph and
made no public appearances Wednesday. He huddled with jubilant, sleepdeprived advisers at his eponymous skyscraper in Manhattan, beginning the daunting task of setting up an administration that will take power in just over two months. He also met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and took calls from supporters, family and friends, according to spokeswoman Hope Hicks.
In Washington, Trump’s scant transition team sprang into action, culling through personnel lists for top jobs and working through handover plans for government agencies. A person familiar with the transition operations said the personnel process was still in its early stages, but Trump’s team was putting a premium on quickly filling key national security posts.
According to an organizational chart for the transition obtained by The Associated Press, Trump was relying on experienced hands to help form his administration. National security planning was being led by former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who previously worked for the FBI. Domestic issues were being handled by Ken Blackwell, a former Cincinnati mayor and Ohio secretary of state.
Trump was expected to consider several loyal supporters
for top jobs, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for attorney general or national security adviser and campaign finance chairman Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker were also expected to be under consideration for foreign policy posts.
After struggling for months with Trump’s takeover of their party, Republican leaders embraced the businessman in victory. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was lukewarm in his support throughout the campaign, praised him for pulling off “the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime.”
“He just earned a mandate,” Ryan declared.
Indeed, Trump will take office in January with Congress fully in his party’s control, giving him strength to try to pass his agenda and turn the Supreme Court in a conservative direction. Even Republicans were stunned by the scope of their electoral success, including many who privately had been predicting Trump’s defeat.
Clinton’s emotions were raw as she addressed a crowd of supporters, eyes wet with tears, who gathered in a New York ballroom. She said the crushing loss was “painful and it will be for a long time” and acknowledged that the nation was “more divided than we thought.”
Still, Clinton was gracious
in defeat, declaring that “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
With several million votes still to be counted, Clinton held a narrow lead in the nationwide popular vote. Most of the outstanding votes appeared to be in Democratic-leaning states, with the biggest chunk in California, a state Clinton overwhelmingly won. With almost 125 million votes counted, The Associated Press tally had Clinton with 47.7 percent and Trump with 47.5 percent. If her lead holds, it would be the second time in 16 years that the winner of the popular vote lost presidential election. The last time was 2000, when Democrat Al Gore lost to George W. Bush.
With all but three states accounted for, Trump held 279 electoral votes to Clinton’s 228. The threshold for victory is 270.
Trump’s sweep of the battleground states that decided the election was commanding. He carried Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, three of the election’s biggest prizes, and snatched reliably Democratic Pennsylvania and Wisconsin away from Clinton.
Trump’s support skewed older, male and overwhelmingly white. His supporters said they were deeply dissatisfied with the federal government and eager for change, according to exit polls conducted by Edison
Research for The Associated Press and television networks.
World leaders congratulated Trump on his victory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a contentious relationship with Obama, called the Republican a “true friend of Israel.” British Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.S. and United Kingdom would remain “strong and close partners on trade, security and defense.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the first to reach out to the incoming American leader. Trump praised Putin throughout the campaign and advocated a closer relationship with Russia, despite Moscow’s provocations in Ukraine and Syria.
U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking Democratic organizations during the campaign, actions Clinton’s team saw as an indication that Putin was trying to meddle in the election. Trump notably did not accept the conclusions of intelligence officials.
If Trump makes good on his campaign promises, the nation stands on the brink of sweeping change in domestic and foreign policy. He’s pledged to repeal Obama’s signature health care law and pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran. He’s vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and temporarily ban immigration from nations with terror ties.
ABOVE: Presidentelect Donald Trump stands with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. LEFT: In New York, Hillary Clinton gives her concession speech with husband Bill and son-in-law Marc Mezvinsky behind her.