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Clinton and Obama promise unity

World

Donald Trump has put aside the celebrations and began planning his 73-day transition to the White House as rival Hillary Clinton promised to bury the bitterness of their long presidential race and work to unify a divided country.

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After the Republican Trump’s stunning upset of the heavily favoured Clinton, Democratic President Barack Obama and leading figures in the Republican Party who had struggled to make peace with Trump all vowed to move past the ugliness of an angry and sometimes personal campaign to seek common ground.

“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” Clinton, the Democratic nominee, said in a concession speech in New York before noon on Wednesday, joined by her husband, former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea.

With a row of American flags in the background, she told supporters her loss was painful “and it will be for a long time,” and that she had offered to work with Trump as he prepares to begin his four-year term on January 20.

A wealthy real estate developer and former reality TV host, Trump rode a wave of anger toward Washington insiders to win Tuesday’s election against Clinton, whose gold-plated establishment resume included stints as a first lady, US senator and secretary of state.

Trump’s victory marked a crushing end to Clinton’s second quest to become the first woman president. She also failed in a White House bid in 2008.

Obama, who campaigned hard against Trump, invited him to the White House for a meeting on Thursday after a brutal night for his Democratic Party, which also fell short of recapturing majorities in both chambers of Congress.

“We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” Obama said at the White House, adding he and his staff would work with Trump to ensure a successful transition.

“We are not Democrats first, we are not Republicans first, we are Americans first.”

Clinton comes on-stage at about the 17-minute mark.

Trump and his senior aides were meeting at Trump Tower in New York on Wednesday to begin the transition. Trump will enjoy Republican majorities in both chambers of the US Congress that could help him implement his legislative agenda.

“He just earned a mandate and we now just have a unified Republican government,” House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, who had a strained relationship with Trump, told reporters in Wisconsin, saying Congress would “hit the ground running” in January.

In an Oct. 25 Reuters interview, Trump said his top priorities when he takes office would be building stronger borders, repealing Obama’s national healthcare plan, aiding military veterans and working to create more jobs.

In his victory speech early on Wednesday, he also promised to embark on a project to rebuild American infrastructure and to double US economic growth.

Worried that a Trump victory could cause economic and global uncertainty, investors initially fled stocks worldwide but Wall Street bounced back from the dramatic overnight sell-off and the US dollar hit its highest level against the Japanese yen in nearly four months.

Joined by his family, Trump spoke to cheering supporters in a New York hotel ballroom, saying it was time to heal divisions and find common ground after a campaign that exposed deep differences among Americans.

“It is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump said. “I will be president for all Americans.”

His comments were an abrupt departure from his campaign trail rhetoric in which he repeatedly branded Clinton as “Crooked Hillary” amid supporters’ chants of “lock her up.”

Despite losing the state-by-state electoral battle that determines the US presidency, Clinton narrowly led Trump in the nationwide popular vote, according to US media tallies.

Prevailing in a race that opinion polls had clearly favoured Clinton, Trump won avid support among white non-college educated workers.

While Clinton, 69, won Hispanics, black and young voters, she did not win those groups by greater margins than Obama did in 2012. Younger blacks did not support Clinton like they did Obama. She won eight of 10 black voters between the ages of 35 and 54. Obama won almost 100 per cent of those voters in 2012.

At 70, Trump will be the oldest first-term US president. The presidency will be Trump’s first elected office, and it remains to be seen how he will work with Congress. During the campaign Trump was the target of sharp disapproval, not just from Democrats but also from many in his own party.

Reuters

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