TOPICS > Politics > Vote 2016

Trump and Clinton strike conciliatory tones after starkly divided election

November 9, 2016 at 6:50 PM EDT
Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States in a stunning upset overnight. In his victory speech, the president-elect spoke of mending national wounds and coming together. On Wednesday, Clinton said she hoped Trump would be a successful president and urged supporters not to lose heart. Hari Sreenivasan talks to Jeffrey Brown and John Yang about the final days on the trail.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hillary Clinton summed up her crushing loss to Donald Trump today, saying, “This is painful, and it will be for a long time.”

As for the new president-elect, he stayed out of sight after claiming victory in the wee hours. That left the national stage today to Clinton, for perhaps one last time.

The sting of their shocking loss was visible on the faces of Clinton supporters and staffers in New York this morning as she conceded defeat.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country.

I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought, but I still believe in America, and I always will. And, if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The concession came hours after Trump was declared the winner, with more than the 270 electoral votes needed for election, though Clinton led late today in the popular vote. She urged supporters, especially young people and women, not to lose heart.

HILLARY CLINTON: I have had successes and I have had setbacks, sometimes really painful ones.

Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public and political careers. You will have successes and setbacks too. This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.


HILLARY CLINTON: I know — I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but, someday, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Roughly nine hours earlier, president-elect Trump had declared victory, applauding his opponent and calling for national unity.

DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time. And we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.


DONALD TRUMP: Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Trump also reprised some of the themes of his campaign, hinting at potential priorities for his coming administration.

DONALD TRUMP: I have spent my entire life in business looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world. That is now what I want to do for our country. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.


JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama had gone all out to make Clinton his successor, but with the question decided, he announced he will meet with Trump tomorrow.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The presidency and the vice presidency is bigger than any of us. So, I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect, because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Like Clinton, Mr. Obama had argued Trump was unfit for the White House. Today, he urged Americans to accept the result.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We try really hard to persuade people that we are right. And then people vote. And then, if we lose, we learn from our mistakes. We do some reflection. We lick our wounds. We brush ourselves off. We get back in the arena. We got at it. We try even harder the next time.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The election outcome brought out strong feelings from both sides overnight, outside Trump Tower in New York.

MAN: We have had eight years of a liberal person telling us that Middle America was nothing. And, tonight, they came and said, you know what, we are — we are America.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And in Washington, outside the White House itself.

MAN: As a gay, black and Latino man, I’m scared. It sucks.


MAN: This is not the way that I envisioned America in 2016 to be at all.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But Republican leaders in Congress who kept their distance from Trump embraced the result today.

REP. PAUL RYAN, Speaker of the House: Look at what a unified Republican government can get you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Wisconsin, House Speaker Paul Ryan lauded the ongoing Republican majorities in Congress, and put supporters of President Obama’s health care law on notice.

REP. PAUL RYAN: This health care law is collapsing under its own weight. And so, to your specific question about repealing and replacing Obamacare, the problem is, President Obama vetoed it. Now we have President Trump coming, who is asking us to do this. So, with unified Republican government, we can fix this. We can fix these problems.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was also out today, after having little to say about Trump during the campaign.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader: Well, I know he’s really happy we still have a Republican majority. And we look forward to working with him. I think most of the things that he’s likely to advocate, we’re going to be enthusiastically for.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the president-elect has 73 days to work on his agenda in Congress and his transition before he takes office on January 20.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Our John Yang and Jeffrey Brown spent the final days on the road following the Trump and Clinton campaigns, and join us now from, where it all came to an end last night, in New York.

Jeff Brown, I want to start with you. You were there at the celebration last night, and today you were outside Trump Tower. What did you see? Who did you talk to?

JEFFREY BROWN: I was at Trump Tower this afternoon, Hari.

Things heard calmed down by this afternoon. You heard last night, it was a little bit more dramatic. This afternoon, it was a classic New York, New York, scene, lots of people gawking across the street. We were all held across the street, some demonstrators, a few demonstrators, anti-Trump. A few Trump supporters were there, cops saying, you know, take your photos and move on, folks, take your photos and move on, folks, that kind of situation.

The most dramatic thing was that, in front of the Trump Tower, where I think I counted seven or eight very large dump trucks filled with sand, those are obviously for protection against explosives. Something about the — tells you about the world we live in today.

And I can’t help but — I couldn’t help but reflect as I was there on the — again going back to thinking about last night, the surreal nature of much of this, to be looking at Trump Tower, the wealth of Fifth Avenue. Gucci is in the bottom floor of wealth tower — of Trump Tower — excuse me — to think about how this wealthy New York businessman somehow managed to connect with so many Americans and is now our president-elect.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeff, you were telling us that today you reached out to connect with some of the people, Trump supporters you met when you were following him on the campaign trail. Tell us about that.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, I did, Judy.

And I was thinking, being there last night, I can’t help, still can’t help but think that so many of the people I was with in that room didn’t think that what happened would happen. They of course wanted to win. Many thought there might be a win. But I don’t think they expected quite what we saw.

So, I went back to talk to some of the people that I had met over the last week, thinking to myself that I was surprised by last night. But when I go back and think about people I talked to and what I saw, I’m much less surprised. I talked to the Zan Bunn, who is the head of the North Carolina Federation of Republican Women, and she went directly to Obamacare.

You just mentioned that in your lead-in tape piece. She said, remember, people were opening their envelopes with their much higher premium at the exact moment when they were opening their ballots, their absentee ballots to vote. And there was that disconnect there for people.

She said people do not want, just decided they didn’t want more of the same.

I talked to Ann Selzer, the pollster in Iowa. She said it was just really clear in Iowa the trade issue was resonating. You drive along the roads in Iowa, you see factories closed, towns dried up. And I had talked to her about Iowa when I was there, but what we saw last night, it was clear that that had connected much further up into parts of the Midwest.

And I talked to Jeff Kaufmann from the Iowa Republican Committee. And he just said it came down to Americans looking at two imperfect candidates, but looking and feeling like the best chance of having real change was through Donald Trump.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, thanks, Jeff.

Also want to check in with John Yang.

John, the mood looked almost very much somber, almost like a funeral today, at least from what we could see on TV, where Hillary Clinton and her supporters were.

JOHN YANG: Well, that wasn’t just supporters, Hari. That was senior staff. Those were the staffers from the Hillary for America Organization from the office in Brooklyn.

And it was absolutely shell-shocked in there. No one saw this coming that I could talk to. Everyone — I asked them when they saw — as they were going in, when they first got the senses of trouble, and they all said that it wasn’t until well into the night last night it was that they started to get the sense that things were not going as they anticipated.

I tried to engage them and tried to find out, well, what do you think happened? What do you think if you had done this earlier in Michigan, if you had done that in another state? And they just waved me off. One of them said, “I have never been less interested in talking about this than now.”

JUDY WOODRUFF: John, just quickly, there was some comment today about the fact that Hillary Clinton waited until this morning to give her speech. What about — what was the thinking behind that?

JOHN YANG: Well, I have got a couple of things, one, practical. They had to get out of the Javits Center at 2:00 a.m. this morning. There was another event moving in and they had to tear down that elaborate setup and set up for the National Association of Broadcasters.

The other thing is that they really weren’t ready. They had to look at the races that were still open, look and try to figure out where the votes were, whether they had a shot in any of the states that were still open. And also, quite frankly, I don’t think that they were — that she, that Hillary Clinton was emotionally or psychologically ready to give that speech last night.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, John Yang and Jeffrey Brown joining us from New York tonight, thank you so much.

JEFFREY BROWN: You’re welcome.