President-elect Donald Trump and his team hunkered down Wednesday in Manhattan to begin preparing for his transition to the presidency after his upset election over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump, a real estate mogul and former reality TV star who successfully appealed to disaffected working-class voters, stayed uncharacteristically out of the public eye while his advisers gathered at Trump Tower.
He did conduct a brief, impromptu telephone interview with an Orlando-based radio host who had dialed him directly without expecting him to answer.
“I’m going to be very busy today, as you can imagine, and we’re going to do a lot of planning and a lot of planning of the future,” Trump told WBDO-FM’s Joe Kelley.
Trump, who is scheduled to meet Thursday with President Barack Obama at the White House, repeated his campaign promises to “return our jobs” and “make America great again” before signing off with: “We’re going to have a lot of happy people once again.”
Trump’s comments came as a variety officials, including Obama and members of Congress, reacted to the Republican’s victory.
At the White House, Obama congratulated Trump, saying “We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.”
Speaking in the Rose Garden with Vice President Joe Biden next to him, Obama promised to ensure a smooth transition of power to Trump, whom 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.
Obama noted he also had differences with President George W. Bush eight years ago, but said Bush’s team was professional and gracious in its transfer of power.
“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,” Obama said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) promised to “hit the ground running” to work with Trump to enact a sweeping Republican platform that would undo much of Obama’s legacy, including the Affordable Care Act.
Ryan, who had a chilly relationship with Trump during the last month of the campaign, praised Trump for pulling off “the most incredible political feat I have seen in my life,” one that “turned politics on its head.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said repealing Obamacare would be high on the list of priorities in the Senate next year, along with tax reform and the border security wall Trump promised.
“I would be shocked if we didn’t move forward and keep our commitment to the American people,” McConnell said in a news conference at the Capitol in Washington.
News show hosts and guests also picked over the election results.
“We’re really excited. We saw it coming for a few weeks,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Conway described Clinton’s concession call to Trump, which she said came shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday.
“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.”
Long Island’s Republican House members, Lee Zeldin and Peter King, said Trump may prove more moderate in the White House than during the campaign, particularly in order to push infrastructure spending and other initiatives through Congress.
“He [Trump] seems like someone who will cut a deal to get something across the finish line,” said Zeldin of Shirley, who won a second term Tuesday.
King said to get things done as president, Trump will have to rely not only on GOP legislators but also Democrats such as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the likely new Senate minority leader, to develop workable compromises.
“He’s a New Yorker and he understands the need of Long Island,” King said of Trump.
With Tom Maier