WASHINGTON -- Republicans claimed a mandate Wednesday for President-elect Donald Trump after his election triumph, and Hillary Clinton told her crestfallen supporters that the GOP victor deserved a "chance to lead." Also Wednesday, President Barack Obama promised a smooth transition of power.
Trump made no scheduled appearances Wednesday. He huddled with advisers at his skyscraper in New York, beginning the daunting task of setting up his administration, which will take power in just over two months.
"We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country," the president said of the president-elect, the man who spent years questioning Obama's birthplace and challenging the legitimacy of Obama's presidency.
Obama, who during the presidential campaign had declared Trump unfit for the presidency, invited him to the White House today. "The peaceful transfer of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months we are going to show that to the world."
Also Wednesday, Trump met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and took calls from supporters, family members and friends, spokesman Hope Hicks said.
After running a divisive campaign, Trump struck a magnanimous note of reconciliation as he claimed victory shortly before 2 a.m. Central time Wednesday.
"Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country," Trump said, minutes after Clinton called him to concede. "I mean that very sincerely. Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together. To all Republicans, Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
"It's a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will," Trump said in his victory speech.
In campaigning, he had portrayed Clinton as the embodiment of a rigged system that had failed everyday Americans.
Trump said that under his administration, "America will no longer settle for anything less than the best." And he promised foreign countries that "while we will always put America's interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone," adding: "We will seek common ground, not hostility."
The real estate developer thanked his wife, Melania, and his children for their patience, saying: "This was tough. This was tough. This political stuff is nasty, and it's tough."
Trump -- who during the campaign had used social media as a tool to court support and mock rivals -- sent a tweet at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday: "Such a beautiful and important evening! The forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again. We will all come together as never before." His Twitter biography now reads, "President-elect of the United States."
Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Trump and Clinton "had a very gracious exchange" when Clinton conceded the race.
Asked whether Trump would now consider appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton's private email server use while she was secretary of state and her ties to the Clinton Foundation, Conway said: "We have not discussed that at all, and he certainly did not discuss that with Secretary Clinton on that call."
Hillary Clinton, with former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Time Kaine standing near, delivers her concession speech at the New Yorker Hotel in New York, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the U.S. on Tuesday in a stunning upset. After a long campaign, Clinton acknowledged that the loss cuts deep. ‚ÄúThis is painful, and it will be for a long time,‚Äù she said. (Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden appear Wednesday in the White House Rose Garden. Obama said he had invited Donald Trump to visit the White House today.
President-elect Donald Trump smiles Wednesday as he arrives to speak at an election night rally in New York.
Clinton's emotions were raw Wednesday morning as -- eyes wet with tears -- she addressed a crowd of supporters gathered in a New York ballroom.
"This is painful," she said, "and it will be for a long time."
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."
Clinton, who has 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 by her side Wednesday.
"We need you to keep up these fights," Clinton said, making special mention of the many women who had hoped that the former secretary of state was on her way to becoming the first female president.
Seen as a subtle nod to the red state and blue state divide, Clinton wore a purple blouse and a dark blazer with a purple lapel while her husband wore a purple tie.
Flanked by her husband, daughter Chelsea Clinton and running mate Virginia Sen. 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."
As Democrats were left wondering how they had misread the country, mournful Clinton backers gathered outside the hotel Wednesday.
"I was devastated. Shocked. Still am," said Shirley Ritenour, 64, a musician from New York City's Brooklyn borough. "When I came in on the subway this morning there were a lot of people crying."
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 Tuesday. With almost 125 million votes counted, The Associated Press tally had Clinton with 47.7 percent and Trump with 47.5 percent.
Trump, however, captured enough Electoral College votes to clinch the presidency. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency, and Trump had 279 as of Wednesday night.
Trump transition team
In Washington, Trump's small transition team sprang into action, culling personnel lists of top-job candidates, and working through hand-over plans for government agencies. A person familiar with the transition operations said the personnel process was still in its early stages, and Trump's team was putting a premium on quickly filling key national security posts.
According to an organizational chart for the transition, Trump was relying on experienced hands to help form his administration. National security planning was being led by former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who previously worked for the FBI. Domestic issues were being handled by Ken Blackwell, a former Cincinnati mayor and Ohio secretary of state.
Trump campaign advisers said Wednesday that the president-elect was turning to assembling his Cabinet and White House team.
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 Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., were expected to be under consideration for foreign-policy posts.
The Pentagon on Wednesday morning said Trump would be receiving the same classified intelligence briefings as the president. The defense secretary, Ashton Carter, issued a statement declaring that he was committed to an orderly passing of power to the next commander in chief.
Support in the GOP
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 Trump for pulling off "the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime."
"He just earned a mandate," Ryan declared.
Ryan, who chose in October to stop campaigning for Trump after revelations about Trump's past offensive language about women, said he had "spoken with Donald twice in the last 18 hours" and that the president-elect "will lead a unified Republican government."
"We talked about the work ahead of us, and the importance of bringing the nation together," Ryan said at a news conference in his hometown, Janesville, Wis. "This needs to be a time of redemption, not a time of recrimination."
Trump will take office in January with Congress in his party's control, giving him strength to try to pass his agenda and turn the Supreme Court in a conservative direction.
Other Republicans who made their reservations about Trump known before the election sought to be gracious Wednesday.
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who became a public face of the anti-Trump faction on Capitol Hill, said he and his family had asked God to steer Trump in the right direction.
"We pray that he will lead wisely and faithfully keep his oath to a Constitution of limited government," Sasse said in a statement. Then he promised to hold Trump to his word. "Starting today, I will do everything in my power to hold the president to his promises," Sasse said.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a former Trump rival for the Republican nomination, also vowed to hold Trump to his campaign promises.
"Americans voted for Republicans because of a promise to go to Washington to reverse our current course, and end the Washington cartel -- a promise to drain the swamp," he said, adopting the slogan that Trump used as his closing argument to voters. "Now is the time to follow through on those words with action."
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, another of Trump's former primary rivals, speculated that the reversal of Obama's achievements would begin within the first month of a Trump administration.
"This is something I'm excited to do," Paul said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "I think you're going to find that we're going to repeal a half dozen or so of regulations that are killing jobs and making us less competitive with the rest of the world."
Democratic leaders were mostly silent, refraining from making provocative statements on Twitter or elsewhere, as they waited to hear more from Trump. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, who is expected to become the next Democratic minority leader in the Senate, issued a conciliatory statement noting that Trump had called him Wednesday morning.
If Trump makes good on his campaign promises, the nation stands on the brink of change in domestic and foreign policy. He has pledged to repeal Obama's signature health care law and pull out of the nuclear accord with Iran. He has vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and temporarily ban immigration from nations that have terror ties.
It's unclear whether Trump will embrace many of the traditions of the presidency. He'll enter the White House owning his own jet as well as a hotel just blocks away on Pennsylvania Avenue. He never allowed journalists to fly on his plane during the campaign, as is customary for White House nominees.
Issues of his transparency bubbled up right from the start. On Wednesday evening, Trump aides said they would not take the press corps to Washington with the president-elect for his meeting with Obama, breaking long-standing protocol.
Information for this article was contributed by Julie Pace, Bradley Klapper, Catherine Lucey, Jonathan Lemire, Lisa Lerer, Jill Colvin, Ken Thomas, Jacob Pearson, Rachelle Blidner, Michael Balsamo and Deepti Hajela of The Associated Press; by Karen Tumulty, Anne Gearan, Juliet Eilperin, Abby Phillip, Robert Costa, David A. Fahrenthold, Philip Rucker, Matea Gold and Brian Murphy of The Washington Post; and by Patrick Healy and Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times.
A Section on 11/10/2016
Print Headline: Trump, advisers set to work; Clinton: Winner deserves a chance