An emotional, conciliatory Donald Trump capped his improbable populist campaign early Wednesday in a speech that praised Democrat Hillary Clinton and promised to “seek common ground, not hostility.”
“I have just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us — it’s about us — on our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very hard-fought campaign. I mean, she fought very hard.
“We owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country, I mean that very sincerely. Now is the time to bind the wounds of division,” he said.
The Trump camp was jubilant for hours before his speech in a Manhattan hotel ballroom even before all the polls closed as the billionaire developer ran up numbers that defied the polls even in states that were believed to be reliably Democratic.
“This is the best day for the American people since passing the Constitution,” said Carl Paladino, 70, a Buffalo developer and Trump’s surrogate and original point man for New York State.
Trump supporters who had chanted “Lock her up!” referring to Clinton, and “USA! USA!” during the campaign tried out a new chant Tuesday night: “President Trump! President Trump!”
Why did Trump win? “Because Hillary is a liar,” said Ida Vangieri, 76, of Nutley, New Jersey.
“He talks to people one-on-one,” said Mary Bossie, 75, of Annapolis, Maryland. She said it’s a connection Clinton never made with voters.
“This is a referendum on the establishment of both sides,” said Todd Phelps, 46, a rancher from Austin, Texas. “I was thinking this would happen from the get-go. Both Mr. Trump and Obama had passion, and that wasn’t going to happen” with Clinton.