Trump heads for White House after shock defeat of Clinton
Republican Donald Trump stunned the world by defeating heavily favored rival Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's presidential election, ending eight years of Democratic rule and sending the United States on a new, uncertain path.
A wealthy real estate developer and former reality TV host, Trump rode a wave of anger toward Washington insiders to win the White House race against Clinton, the Democratic candidate whose gold-plated establishment resume included stints as a first lady, US senator and secretary of state.
President Barack Obama, who campaigned hard against Trump, telephoned the Republican to congratulate him on his victory and invited him to the White House for a meeting on Thursday, the White House said in a statement. 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.
Worried that a Trump victory could cause economic and global uncertainty, investors were in full flight from risky assets.
Trump collected enough of the 270 state-by-state electoral votes needed to win a four-year term that starts on Jan. 20, taking battleground states where presidential elections are traditionally decided, US television networks projected.
He appeared with his family 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."
Republicans also kept control of the U.S. Congress. Television networks projected the party would retain majorities in both the 100-seat Senate and the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats were up for grabs.
Despite losing the state-by-state electoral battle that determines the US presidency, Clinton narrowly led Trump in the nationwide popular vote, according to US media tallies. It would mark the second time in 16 years that a Democratic candidate lost the presidency despite winning more votes than the victor. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore got more votes than Republican George W. Bush.
At Clinton's election event a mile away from Trump's victory party, an electric atmosphere among supporters expecting to see her become America's first woman president dissipated.
Clinton did not immediately make a concession speech, instead sending campaign chairman John Podesta out to tell her supporters to go home. "We're not going to have anything more to say tonight," he said. Clinton was expected to speak on Wednesday morning, an aide said.
Prevailing in a cliffhanger race that opinion polls had clearly forecast as favoring a Clinton victory, Trump won avid support among a core base of white non-college educated workers with his promise to be the "greatest jobs president that God ever created." He did well in "Rust Belt" states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.
"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 wrote on Twitter early on Wednesday.
In his victory speech, he said he had a great economic plan, would embark on a project to rebuild American infrastructure and would double U.S. economic growth.
Trump, who at 70 will be the oldest first-term U.S. president, came out on top after a bitter and divisive campaign that focused largely on the character of the candidates and whether they could be trusted in the Oval Office.
The presidency will be Trump's first elected office, and it remains to be seen how he will work with Congress. During the campaign Trump was the target of sharp disapproval, not just from Democrats but from many in his own party.