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Election Day: Americans choose between Clinton and Trump

by The Associated Press | November 8, 2016 at 8:42 a.m. | Updated November 8, 2016 at 10:56 a.m.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the audience exiting a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

WASHINGTON — A polarized America went to the polls Tuesday to pick its 45th president, choosing to elect either Hillary Clinton as the nation's first female commander in chief or billionaire businessman Donald Trump after a long and rancorous campaign that upended U.S. politics.

The winner will inherit an anxious nation, angry and distrustful of leaders in Washington. She or he will preside over an economy that is improving but still leaves many behind, and a military less extended abroad than eight years ago yet grappling with new terror threats.

Clinton entered Election Day with multiple paths to victory, while Trump must prevail in most of the battleground states to reach 270 Electoral College votes. Control of the Senate also is at stake; Democrats need to net four seats if Clinton wins the White House. Republicans expect to maintain their House majority.

Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, arrived to vote at their local polling station in Chappaqua, New York, shortly after 8 a.m. as a crowd of cheering supporters snapped photos. Trump voted in Manhattan about three hours later.

"I know how much responsibility goes with this," Clinton said. "So many people are counting on the outcome of this election, what it means for our country, and I will do the very best I can if I'm fortunate enough to win today."

Trump said he wanted to tap America's unrealized potential.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, right, gives a thumbs up to supporters outside Douglas G. Grafflin School in Chappaqua, N.Y., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, after voting. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

"I see so many hopes and so many dreams out there that didn't happen, that could have happened, with leadership, with proper leadership," he said by telephone on Fox News. "And people are hurt so badly."

Almost 45 million people cast ballots in advance before Election Day. Many voters expressed relief the end was in sight after two years of relentless campaigning, racially loaded rhetoric and sharp accusations against each candidate.

Clinton has condemned Trump for referring to undocumented Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and promoting a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., and for his long line of remarks about women that culminated in an audio in which he brags about grabbing women's genitalia. Trump calls his opponent "Crooked Hillary" for her use of a private email server as secretary of state and for her complicated ties with the Clinton Foundation run by her husband.

"I'm tired of the mudslinging," said Laura Schmitt, a 54-year-old Republican from Woodbury, Minnesota, who is voting for Trump.

"I'm so glad it's over," said Ramiro Wires, a 50-year-old homemaker from Indianapolis, who voted for Clinton.

The candidates both spent Tuesday giving a series of radio interview in states still up for grabs, after blitzing through the remaining battlegrounds a day earlier.

Clinton has been buoyed by FBI Director James Comey's weekend declaration that he would not recommend criminal charges against her following a new email review. Comey announced the inquiry late last month, sapping Clinton's surging momentum and threatening Democrats in down-ballot races.

The centerpiece of Clinton's final campaign swing on Monday was a massive rally on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, where she was joined by her husband. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participated, too.

"We know enough about my opponent, we know who he is," Clinton said as she addressed the crowd of 33,000, her largest of the campaign. "The real question for us is what kind of country we want to be."

Trump closed his presidential bid in trademark style, flying across the country in his now-familiar private jet and headlining packed rallies filled with enthusiastic supporters. As he surveyed a crowd in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he declared: "It's been a long journey."

"We have to win," Trump said as he ended a marathon final day of campaigning in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Having made the new FBI review a centerpiece of his closing case to voters, Trump said Clinton was being protected by a "totally rigged system."

"You have one magnificent chance to beat the corrupt system and deliver justice," Trump implored his supporters. "Do not let this opportunity slip away."

While Trump previously has suggested he wouldn't accept defeat, his eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., told CNN on Tuesday: "In a fair election we are going to respect the outcome."

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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