In what can only be described as an election of historic proportions, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 69, has been beaten by billionaire real estate magnate and political outsider Donald J. Trump, 70, thus dashing her efforts to become the first female president in American history.
Had she assumed the office in January, she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, would have also become the first married couple to occupy the Oval Office for respective terms. For eight years during her husband’s two terms in office, she served as First Lady. The tables would have turned and the former president would have been known as First Gentleman.
Final results were too close to call by press time and supporters of both camps held out hope for hours beyond the closing of the polls, although by 1 a.m. Wednesday, Trump held a sizeable lead in electoral college votes and was considered by some networks the likely winner.
At 2:45 a.m. Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, addressed the nation. Pence said he was honored to “serve as your vice-president and humbled by God’s grace.” He said he was “grateful to the American people and to the president-elect” as he introduced Trump.
Clinton conceded defeat privately to Trump in a phone call.
In his first appearance as president-elect, Trump said Clinton congratulated “us” and he praised Clinton for a lifetime of public service. Trump said the time is now to come together to unify the country. He said his campaign was a movement to make the country better for all people. He said the country has “tremendous potential” and that “the forgotten people will be forgotten no longer. We have a great economic plan and expect to have great, great relationships with other countries than want to have a relationship with us. We have to dream of beautiful things and we will seek common ground, not hostility.”
“There was no winner in this,” said a weary Richard Womack from his Darby Township home. The Democratic labor leader said he traveled extensively through several battleground states drumming up support for Hillary Clinton.
“This election has been hard from Day One,” he said, “and it really showed how split our country is. This campaign affected different people in different ways. No matter who wins, we still have work to do… a lot of work ahead. I’m just hoping we can pull together for the good of the country.”
Trump had been credited for attracting the largest number of people into the political process and the largest number to vote in Republican primaries.
National polls suggested a close race but few expected the record turnout in virtually every community.
“What I found overwhelming was the turnout,” said Chester Republican James E. Turner. “The number of voters was two times that of the first time President Obama ran. It was awesome, but it also showed that we still need to educate people because they will come out for the national elections, but the local elections are critical for people’s everyday lives.”
It was 17 months ago, which now seems like an eternity, when New York billionaire businessman Donald J. Trump, accompanied by his wife, Melania, descended the escalator at Trump Tower and declared his candidacy for president of the United States.
Trump would go on to defeat 16 other Republican candidates, which included governors, senators and congressmen.
The man whose candidacy began as a joke to some, ended with the Republican nomination. In the end, Trump won more primary votes than any other Republican candidate in history.
Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former first lady, senator from New York and secretary of state, defeated Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in a controversial primary, which ended with the resignation of National Democratic Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
It was learned via a Wikileaks drop that the Democratic committee was allegedly pulling for Clinton and in some ways sabotaging Sanders.
The race between Clinton and Trump was unsettling. High unfavorable ratings for both candidates, past indiscretions uncovered, a slew of name calling, insinuations, and insulting television advertisements led to a great amount of voter fatigue.
Social media was riddled with comments about people being “tired” and “disgusted” with the entire election process and just wanting it to be over. Newscasters projected that early voting reached levels never seen before and on election day, in thousands of polling places, lines stretched around buildings and down city blocks.
In Aston’s Third Ward, a poll worker said voters were lined up at 6 A.M. and stretched clear around Aston Elementary School. There were more than 700 votes cast prior to 1 P.M. and by 7:30 P.M., more than 1,200 notes were cast.
Normally, about 700 votes total are cast at that location.
“It’s been busy all day,” said a poll worker. “It was really crowded in the morning, stragglers all day, and busy again in the evening.”
Staff writer Loretta Rodgers contributed to this report.