Republican Donald Trump stunned the world by defeating heavily favored rival Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election, ending eight years of Democratic control of the White House and sending America on a new, uncertain path.
On the other hand, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter pledged to oversee an orderly transition to a Trump administration on Wednesday and thanked Pentagon employees for staying out of the political fuss during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“We must stay focused on our duty to confront our current challenges and any that might arise during this period,” Carter said in a memorandum to Defense Department employees.
A wealthy real estate developer and former reality TV host, Trump rode a wave of anger toward Washington insiders to win Tuesday’s White House race against Clinton, the Democratic candidate whose gold-plated establishment resume included stints as a first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
Trump’s victory marked a crushing end to Clinton’s second presidential quest. She also failed in a White House bid in 2008.
“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” Clinton, 69, said in her concession speech in New York on Wednesday morning, joined by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea.
Speaking in front of a row of American flags, she told supporters her loss was painful “and it will be for a long time,” and that she had offered to work with Trump on behalf of the nation.
President Barack Obama, who campaigned hard against Trump, invited Trump to the White House for a meeting on Thursday. Obama is due to speak later on Wednesday about the election.
“Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the President identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the President-elect is the next step,” the White House said.
Trailing in public opinion polls for months, Trump pulled off a major surprise and collected enough of the 270 state-by-state electoral votes needed to win, taking battleground states where presidential elections are traditionally decided, U.S. television networks projected.
His four-year term begins on Jan. 20 and he will enjoy Republican majorities in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. Television networks projected the party would retain control of the 100-seat Senate and the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats were up for grabs.
Worried that a Trump victory could cause economic and global uncertainty, investors fled risky global assets.
The U.S. dollar, Mexican peso and world stocks fell on Wednesday but fears of the kind of shock that wiped trillions of dollars off world markets after Britain’s “Brexit” vote in June failed to materialize immediately.
But U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, rebounding from stunning overnight losses fueled by the election result. Sectors such as banking and steel that appeared poised to benefit from a Trump presidency led the charge.
Trump appeared with his family early on Wednesday before cheering supporters in a New York hotel ballroom, saying it was time to heal the divisions caused by the campaign and find common ground after a campaign that exposed deep differences among Americans.
“It is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump said. “I will be president for all Americans.”
He said he had received a call from Clinton to congratulate him on the win and praised her for her service and for a hard-fought campaign.
His comments were an abrupt departure from his campaign trail rhetoric in which he repeatedly slammed Clinton as “crooked” amid supporters’ chants of “lock her up.”
But Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, on Wednesday did not rule out the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s past conduct, a threat Trump made in an election debate last month.
Despite losing the state-by-state electoral battle that determines the U.S. presidency, Clinton narrowly led Trump in the nationwide popular vote, according to U.S. media tallies.
Republican National Committee senior strategist Sean Spicer told MSNBC that Trump and his senior aides were meeting at Trump Tower in New York on Wednesday to “start the proper transition” to a Trump presidency.