WASHINGTON (Reuters) – 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, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
Worried a Trump victory could cause economic and global uncertainty, investors were in full flight from risky assets. But the U.S. dollar and world stocks began to steady in the European morning on Wednesday, having been hammered overnight.
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, U.S. 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 Congress. Television networks projected the party would retain majorities in both the 100-seat U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, where all 435 seats were up for grabs.
At Clinton’s election event at the Javits conference center a mile away from Trump’s event, an electric atmosphere among supporters expecting a Clinton win slowly grew grim as her losses piled up.
Clinton opted not to appear at her event, 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.”
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.
His win raises a host of questions for the United States at home and abroad. He 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 U.S. companies that went abroad.
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 to serve as the country’s 45th president.
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.