President Barack Obama on Wednesday congratulated President-elect Donald Trump on his stunning victory and said, “We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.”
Speaking in the Rose Garden with Vice President Joe Biden by his side, Obama promised to ensure a smooth transition of power to an upstart Republican candidate he had called “unfit” for the presidency as recently as last week.
“It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences,” Obama said.
But Obama said he also had differences with President George W. Bush eight years ago, and Bush’s team was professional and gracious in its transfer of power — and Obama said he ordered his team to follow that example.
“The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy, and in the next few months we are going to show that to the world,” he said.
The president called Trump early in the morning to congratulate him and to invite him to the White House on Thursday to discuss the next steps in transferring power.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan promised he would “hit the ground running” to work with Trump to enact a sweeping Republican platform that will undo much of Obama’s legacy, including the Affordable Care Act.
The Wisconsin congressman, who had a chilly relationship with Trump during the last month of the campaign, praised the 70-year-old businessman for pulling off “the most incredible political feat I have seen in my life,” one that “turned politics on its head.”
Though Ryan and Trump hold different views on trade and some other issues, Ryan said in Janesville, Wisconsin, that “he just earned a mandate and we just now have a unified Republican government.”
Ryan said he looked forward to having Trump in the White House after years of House Republicans passing legislation that Obama would not sign into law.
“We will work hand in hand in a positive agenda to tackle the country’s big problems,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s remarks came after Trump’s campaign team took to the morning shows on Wednesday to urge unity after his unexpected and stunning victory — but also to say his supporters had predicted he would win the presidency, but that pundits, pollsters and the media wouldn’t listen.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that repealing Obamacare was high on the list of priorities in the Senate next year, along with consideration of tax reform, the border security wall Trump promised and a Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I would be shocked if we didn’t move forward and keep our commitment to the American people,” McConnell, of Kentucky, told reporters in a news conference in the Capitol building in Washington.
News show hosts picked over the election results, exit polls and data showing Clinton ahead in the popular vote but Trump winning the Electoral College.
“We’re really excited. We saw it coming for a few weeks,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I tried to say that on different programs, but I think people had conclusions in search of evidence and somehow believed that if everybody keeps saying the same thing that somehow it would come true,” Conway said.
GOP Rep. Chris Collins of Buffalo, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, appeared on Fox News and took a shot at Democrats, particularly House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
“It had to be an ‘Oh, my God’ moment. It had to be a nightmare for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,” Collins said. “Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. The arrogance, the smugness. They just knew that Donald Trump couldn’t win.”
Trump, a businessman who had never run for elected office, not only won the White House, but his party clung to at least a two-vote majority in the Senate and an estimated 45-vote majority in the House — putting Republicans in control of the elected branches of government.
“Such a beautiful and important evening! The forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again. We will all come together as never before,” Trump said in a tweet shortly after 6:30 a.m.
Collins said the top priority in the first 100 days of the Trump administration would be to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and to refashion the U.S. strategy to fight ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism.
Conway said dismantling Obamacare was a winning issue for Trump, as it had been for the Republican Party in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections.
But Conway offered no answer on whether Trump would follow through on his threat to order a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton and her private email server, an issue he stressed in his attacks on her.
Asked about it on MSNBC, Conway said, “We didn’t discuss that last night, and he did not discuss that with Hillary Clinton on the phone.”
Clinton delivered her concession speech Wednesday morning, telling cheering supporters at The New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan: “Last night I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country.”
Of her failed candidacy, Clinton said: “This is painful, and it will be for a long time ... but our campaign was never about one person or one election. It was about the country we love.”
“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided that we thought,” Clinton said.
“But I believe in America,” she said, adding “we must accept this result and look to the future.”
“Donald Trump is going to be our president,” she said. “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
Conway described Clinton’s call, which she said came shortly after 2 a.m.
“My phone rang, and I handed it to Mr. Trump. And he had a very gracious, very warm conversation with Secretary Clinton. It lasted about a minute,” she said. “They congratulated each other for a hard-fought campaign. I heard his end of it where he said she was tough and smart.”
Conservative pundits on the morning news shows the day after the election ripped the vast majority of pollsters and analysts who had predicted that Clinton, not Trump, would win.
“I think 95 percent of analysts should quit and sell insurance,” said Republican commentator Tucker Carlson, who will soon start a new show on Fox News.
Mike Huckabee, a former presidential candidate and ex-governor of Arkansas, said on Fox News, “I hear the analysts and they’ve all been wrong. They live in this bubble in Manhattan or maybe in Washington,” he said.
“We were wrong,” said Larry Sabato, director of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, which had predicted a Clinton win with 322 electoral votes and a Senate divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
“I apologize,” he said on MSNBC. “We need to learn what exactly went wrong. It was an industrywide failure, and we’ve got to get it fixed.”
Sabato added there has never been anything like Trump’s victory in U.S. history.
“There is no precedent for what happened,” Sabato said. “This is a spectacular event we will be studying for the rest of our lives.”