US ELECTION

Trump on his way to White House after shock defeat of Clinton

US president-elect Donald Trump with wife Melania and family US president-elect Donald Trump with wife Melania and family | Reuters

Republican Donald Trump stunned the world by defeating heavily favored rival Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's  presidential election, ending eight years of Democratic control of the White House 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.The US dollar, Mexican peso and world stocks fell on  Wednesday but fears of the kind of shock that wiped trillions of  dollars off global markets after Britain's "Brexit" vote in June  have failed to materialize so far.

US stocks opened slightly lower but then moved into  positive territory, with the Dow Jones industrial average up  0.30 percent.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, US television networks projected.

His four-year term begins on Jan. 20 and he will enjoy  Republican majorities in both chambers of the US 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.

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 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.

Sadness for Clinton

2016 Election Clinton Guests watch election results during Hillary Clinton's election night rally in the Jacob Javits Center glass enclosed lobby in New York | AP

Trump's victory marked a frustrating end to the presidential  aspirations of Clinton, 69, who also launched an unsuccessful  White House bid in 2008.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 as results  came in.

Supporters, some in tears, milled around the convention  center in Manhattan where they had expected Clinton to give a  victory address.

Clinton did not make a concession speech overnight, instead  sending campaign chairman John Podesta out to tell her  supporters to go home. Clinton was then scheduled to speak to staff and supporters on Wednesday morning, before her campaign  put the event back an hour to 10:30 am (1530 GMT).

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 US  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.

Good news for Russia

Russia 2016 US Election A journalist points at a portrait of US President-elect Donald Trump, with a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin at right, during a live telecast of the US presidential election in the Union Jack pub in Moscow | AP

Foreign leaders pledged to work with Trump but some officials expressed alarm that the vote could mark the end of an  era in which Washington promoted democratic values and was seen  by its allies as a guarantor of peace.

During the campaign, Trump expressed admiration for Russian  President Vladimir Putin, questioned central tenets of the NATO  military alliance and suggested that Japan and South Korea  should develop nuclear weapons to shoulder their own defense burden.

Russia and Putin appeared to be winners from Trump's  victory. Defying years of U.S. foreign policy orthodoxy, the Republican has promised much warmer relations with Moscow, despite Russia's intervention in the Syrian civil war and its  seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region.

Russia's parliament erupted in applause after a lawmaker  announced that Trump had been elected, and Putin told foreign  ambassadors he was ready to fully restore ties with Washington.

"It is not an easy path but we are ready to do our part and  do everything to return Russian and American relations to a  stable path of development," Putin said.

Russia is hoping that improved relations could yield an  elusive prize: the lifting or easing of sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union to punish Moscow for its  2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern  Ukraine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped to  reach "new heights" in bilateral ties under Trump. Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing and Washington shared responsibility for promoting global development and prosperity.

Other officials, some of them with senior roles in government, took the unusual step of denouncing the outcome, calling it a worrying signal for liberal democracy and tolerance  in the world.

"Trump is the pioneer of a new authoritarian and chauvinist international movement. He is also a warning for us," German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said in an interview with the  Funke newspaper group.

US neighbor Mexico was pitched into deep uncertainty by  the victory for Trump, who has often accused it of stealing US jobs and sending criminals across the border.

Trump wants to rewrite international trade deals to reduce  trade deficits and has taken positions that raise the  possibility of damaging relations with America's most trusted  allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The Mexican peso plunged more than 13 percent before  recovering some ground. The peso had become a touchstone for  sentiment on the election as Trump threatened to rip up a free  trade agreement with Mexico.

Trump campaigned on a pledge to take the country on a more isolationist, protectionist "America First" path. He has vowed to impose a 35 percent tariff on goods exported to the United States by US companies that went abroad.

Clinton's weakness

USA-ELECTION/CLINTON Hillary Clinton addresses her staff and supporters about the results of the US election at a hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York | Reuters

Trump survived a series of seemingly crippling blows on the  campaign, many of them self-inflicted, including the emergence  in October of a 2005 video in which he boasted about making  unwanted sexual advances on women. He apologized but within days, several women emerged to say he had groped them,  allegations he denied. He was judged the loser of all three presidential debates with Clinton.

A Reuters/Ipsos national Election Day poll offered some clues to the outcome. It found Clinton badly underperformed expectations with women, winning their vote by only about 2 percentage points.

And while she won Hispanics, black and young voters, Clinton  did not win those groups by greater margins than Obama did in 2012. Younger blacks did not support Clinton like they did Obama, as she won eight of 10 black voters between the ages of  35 and 54. Obama won almost 100 percent of those voters in 2012.

During the campaign, Trump said he would "make America great again" through the force of his personality, negotiating skill and business acumen. He proposed refusing entry to the United States of people from war-torn Middle Eastern countries, a modified version of an earlier proposed ban on Muslims.

His volatile nature, frequent insults and unorthodox proposals led to campaign feuds with a long list of people, including Muslims, the disabled, Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, the family of a slain Muslim-American soldier, a Miss Universe winner and a federal  judge of Mexican heritage.

A largely anti-Trump crowd of about 400 to 500 people  gathered outside the White House after his victory, many shocked or in tears. Some carried signs that read "stand up to racism" and "love trumps hate." About a dozen Trump supporters began shouting "U-S-A" and the competing demonstrators briefly pushed each other.

Protests against Trump also broke out overnight in downtown  Oakland, California, where demonstrators set ablaze a likeness  of him, smashed store front windows and set garbage and tires on  fire.

The election was unprecedented in the way it turned  Americans against each other, according to dozens of interviews  in rural United States and across some of the most politically  charged battleground states.

Throughout his campaign, Trump described a dark America that  had been knocked to its knees by China, Mexico, Russia and  Islamic State. The American dream was dead, he said, smothered  by malevolent business interests and corrupt politicians, and he  alone could revive it.

He has vowed to win economic concessions from China and to  build a wall on the southern US border with Mexico to keep out undocumented immigrants.His triumph was a rebuke to Obama, a Democrat who spent weeks flying around the country to campaign against him,  repeatedly casting doubt on his suitability for the White House.  

Obama will hand over the office to Trump after serving the maximum eight years allowed by law.

Trump promises to push Congress to repeal Obama's troubled  healthcare plan and to reverse his plan to curb greenhouse emissions mainly from coal-fired power plants.The wife of former President Bill Clinton, voters perceived her as a cautious and calculating candidate with an inability to personally connect with them.

Even though the FBI found no grounds for criminal charges after a probe into her use of a private email server rather than  a government system while she was secretary of state, the issue allowed critics to raise doubts about her integrity. Hacked emails also showed a cozy relationship between her State  Department and donors to her family's Clinton Foundation charity.

Trump seized on the emails to charge that Clinton represented a corrupt political system in Washington that had to be swept clean.

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