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NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Clinton conceded the presidency to Donald Trump in a phone call early Wednesday morning, a stunning end to a campaign that appeared poised to make her the nation’s first female president right up until Election Day.
Clinton called Trump after it became clear that the celebrity businessman had won enough states to capture the White House. But she made no public appearance before supporters who had gathered under the glass ceiling of New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center planning to celebrate what was expected to be her historic victory.
“We’re still counting votes and every vote should count,” campaign chairman John Podesta said in brief remarks before the shrinking audience. “Several states are still close to call and we’re not going to have anything more to say tonight.” Clinton planned to make a statement later Wednesday morning.
But inside the venue, the mood had already grown increasingly grim as Trump captured battleground states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio and shattered a longstanding “blue wall” of states in the Upper Midwest that had backed every Democratic presidential candidate since her husband, Bill Clinton, won the presidency in 1992.
“My disappointment makes me not trust the rest of the world,” said Katie Fahey, who had flown to New York from Grand Rapids, Michigan, wearing a red pantsuit, expecting a victory party. “I don’t even want to go out. I want to wear sweatpants and curl myself up in a corner.”
The results were startling to Clinton and her aides, who had ended their campaign with a whirlwind tour of battleground states and had projected optimism that she would maintain the diverse coalition assembled by President Barack Obama in the past two elections. Clinton, her family and close aides hunkered down to watch returns at a Manhattan hotel suite.
Clinton’s stunning loss was certain to open painful soul-searching within the party, which had endured a lengthy primary between Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who drew strong support among liberals amid an electorate calling for change. Clinton repeatedly called Trump unfit and unqualified for the presidency and in the closing days, Obama told supporters in North Carolina that “the fate of the Republic rests on your shoulders.”
“The mistake that we made is that we ignored the powerful part of Trump’s message because we hated so much of the rest of his message. The mistake we made is that people would ignore that part and just focus on the negative,” said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, who was not affiliated with the campaign.
The tumultuous presidential cycle bequeathed a series of political gifts for Clinton’s GOP rival: An FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, questions of pay-for-play involving her family’s charitable foundation, Sanders’ primary challenge, Clinton’s health scare at a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony and FBI Director James Comey’s late October announcement that investigators had uncovered emails potentially relevant to her email case.
Yet her team spent the bulk of their time focused on attacking Trump, while failing to adequately address Clinton’s deep liabilities — or the wave of frustration roiling the nation.
Every time the race focused on Clinton, her numbers dropped, eventually making her one of the least liked presidential nominees in history. And she offered an anxious electorate a message of breaking barriers and the strength of diversity — hardly a rallying cry — leaving her advisers debating the central point of her candidacy late into the primary race.
Nearly a year into her campaign, she still was searching for a message that would address that anger and present a forward-looking vision for the country.
“Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?” asked chief strategist Joel Benenson, in a February 2016 email, about a memo laying out her message.
His message was part of an October WikiLeaks hack that exposed many of the campaign’s battles in the crucial final weeks of the campaign.
Clinton’s campaign was infuriated by a late October announcement by Comey that investigators had uncovered emails that may have been pertinent to the dormant investigation into Clinton’s use of private emails while secretary of state. On the Sunday before the election, Comey told lawmakers that the bureau had found no evidence in its hurried review of newly discovered emails to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.
But the announcement may have damaged Clinton while her campaign tried to generate support in early voting in battleground states like Florida and North Carolina. In the nine days between Comey’s initial statement until his “all clear” announcement, nearly 24 million people cast early ballots. That was about 18 percent of the expected total votes for president.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump claimed his place Wednesday as America’s 45th president, an astonishing victory for the celebrity businessman and political novice who capitalized on voters’ economic anxieties, took advantage of racial tensions and overcame a string of sexual assault allegations on his way to the White House.
His triumph over Hillary Clinton, not declared until well after midnight, will end eight years of Democratic dominance of the White House and threatens to undo major achievements of President Barack Obama. Trump has pledged to act quickly to repeal Obama’s landmark health care law, revoke America’s nuclear agreement with Iran and rewrite important trade deals with other countries, particularly Mexico and Canada.
As he claimed victory, Trump urged Americans to “come together as one united people” after a deeply divisive campaign.
Clinton called her Republican rival to concede but did not plan to speak publicly until later Wednesday. Trump, who spent much of the campaign urging his supporters on as they chanted “lock her up,” said the nation owed Clinton “a major debt of gratitude” for her years of public service.
The Republican blasted through Democrats’ longstanding firewall, carrying Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states that hadn’t voted for a GOP presidential candidate since the 1980s. He needed to win nearly all of the competitive battleground states, and he did just that, claiming Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and others.
Global stock markets and U.S. stock futures plunged, reflecting investor concern over what a Trump presidency might mean for the economy and trade.
A New York real estate developer who lives in a sparkling Manhattan high-rise, Trump forged a striking connection with white, working class Americans who feel left behind in a changing economy and diversifying country. He cast immigration, both from Latin America and the Middle East, as the root of the problems plaguing many Americans and tapped into fears of terrorism emanating at home and abroad.
Trump will take office with Congress fully under Republican control. GOP Senate candidates fended off Democratic challengers in key states, including North Carolina, Indiana and Wisconsin. Republicans also maintained their grip on the House.
Senate control means Trump will have great leeway in appointing Supreme Court justices, which could mean a shift to the right that would last for decades.
Trump upended years of political convention on his way to the White House, leveling harshly personal insults on his rivals, deeming Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers, and vowing to temporarily suspend Muslim immigration to the U.S. He never released his tax returns, breaking with decades of campaign tradition, and eschewed the kind of robust data and field efforts that helped Obama win two terms in the White House, relying instead on his large, free-wheeling rallies to energize supporters. His campaign was frequently in chaos, and he cycled through three campaign managers this year.
His final campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, touted the team’s accomplishments as the final results rolled in, writing on Twitter that “rally crowds matter” and “we expanded the map.”
Clinton spent months warning voters that Trump was unfit and unqualified to be president. But the former senator and secretary of state struggled to articulate a clear rationale for her own candidacy.
The mood at Clinton’s party grew bleak as the night wore out, with some supporters leaving, others crying and hugging each other. Top campaign aides stopped returning calls and texts, as Clinton and her family hunkered down in a luxury hotel watching the returns.
At 2 a.m., Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta told the crowd to head home for the night with the race not officially called, but the Democrat’s fate all but certain.
Trump will inherit an anxious nation, deeply divided by economic and educational opportunities, race and culture.
Exit polls underscored the fractures: Women nationwide supported Clinton by a double-digit margin, while men were significantly more likely to back Trump. More than half of white voters backed the Republican, while nearly 9 in 10 blacks and two-thirds of Hispanics voted for the Democrat.
Doug Ratliff, a 67-year-old businessman from Richlands, Virginia, said Trump’s election was one of the happiest days of his life.
“This county has had no hope,” said Ratliff, who owns strip malls in an area badly beaten by the collapse of the coal industry. “Things will change. I know he’s not going to be perfect. But he’s got a heart. And he gives people hope.”
Trump has pledged to usher in a series of sweeping changes to U.S. foreign policy, including building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and suspending immigration from countries with terrorism ties. He’s also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and spoken of building a better relationship with Moscow, worrying some in his own party who fear he’ll go easy on Putin’s provocations.
The Republican Party’s tortured relationship with its nominee was evident right up to the end. Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush declined to back Trump, instead selecting “none of the above” when they voted for president, according to spokesman Freddy Ford.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a reluctant Trump supporter, called the businessman earlier in the evening to congratulate him, according to a Ryan spokeswoman. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the American people “have chosen a new direction for our nation.”
Obama, who campaigned vigorously for Clinton throughout the fall and hoped his own rising popularity would lift her candidacy, was silent on Trump’s victory, but he is expected to invite him to the White House this week. It will be a potentially awkward meeting with the man who pushed false rumors that the president might have been born outside the United States.
Democrats, as well as some Republicans, expected Trump’s unconventional candidacy would damage down-ballot races and even flip some reliably red states in the presidential race. But Trump held on to Republican territory, including in Georgia and Utah, where Clinton’s campaign confidently invested resources.
Clinton asked voters to keep the White House in her party’s hands for a third straight term. She cast herself as heir to Obama’s legacy and pledged to make good on his unfinished agenda, including passing immigration legislation, tightening restrictions on guns and tweaking his health care law.
But she struggled throughout the race with persistent questions about her honesty and trustworthiness. Those troubles flared anew late in the race, when FBI Director James Comey announced a review of new emails from her tenure at the State Department. On Sunday, just two days before Election Day, Comey said there was nothing in the material to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.
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