Trump Starts New Political Era as Republicans Claim Mandate

President-Elect Trump to Meet With Obama on Transition
  • Clinton lost electoral college but leads in popular vote
  • Ryan says Republican unity will drive new agenda for nation

In the hours after Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the U.S., Republicans in Congress claimed a mandate for their agenda to revamp financial rules and replace Obamacare, and Hillary Clinton urged her supporters to give him a chance to govern.

House Speaker Paul Ryan credited Trump with helping Republicans keep control of both chambers of Congress and said his victory will let the party be bold in using its clout to enact legislation and confirm appointments that could touch every facet of American life.

Trump at his Election Night event in New York on Nov. 9.
Trump at his Election Night event in New York on Nov. 9.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“Donald Trump will lead a unified Republican government,” Ryan said Wednesday morning. “We will work hand-in-hand on a positive agenda to tackle this country’s biggest challenges.”

Turbulence in financial markets calmed, after a knee-jerk sell-off in stocks and rally in haven assets, as investors reassessed the effects of Trump’s surprise victory. The S&P 500 Index rose amid rallies in health-care and bank shares. Futures had plunged as much as 5 percent overnight. Mexico’s peso sank to a record low on prospects that integration with the U.S. will unravel, while Russian shares jumped on speculation Trump will mend ties with Moscow.

Call for Unity

Trump, a real-estate developer and reality-TV star who has never held public office, laid out in broad strokes proposals to build a wall along the U.S. southern border, bolster military spending while cutting taxes, rewrite U.S. trade relationships and peel back regulations on U.S. businesses. He made no mention of that agenda in his victory speech early Wednesday morning in New York, but said the nation’s deep divisions must be healed.

“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans,” he said.

In her first public remarks since Trump claimed the presidency, Clinton pledged to work with him and urged her supporters to stand behind the new president while continuing to defend the values they believe in.

“We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” Clinton told a crowd of cheering campaign staff members and supporters Wednesday in New York. “Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don’t just respect that. We cherish it.”

Trump’s Cabinet

One of Trump’s most immediate tasks is putting together a Cabinet and a team of advisers with a broad portfolio of experience in foreign and domestic affairs despite frosty relationships with many in the Republican establishment who shunned his candidacy.

His team is about a week away from arriving at “real names” for the first members of the Trump administration, according to three aides involved in the transition who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.

“From the beginning, Mr. Trump has made very clear that he doesn’t want to jinx himself by having a transition and spending an awful lot of money that way,” campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said. “But we have been feverishly working on different people for high positions in a Trump administration, a Trump-Pence administration.” 

Trump is also preparing for an 11 a.m. meeting Thursday at the White House with President Barack Obama. Aides said decisions were still being made about who would accompany him. Trump and his vice president-elect, Mike Pence, then will meet with Ryan for lunch at 12:30 p.m., said two people familiar with the plans who asked for anonymity.

Obama Meeting

Looking ahead to the meeting, Obama said on Wednesday that while it’s no secret he and Trump “have some pretty significant differences,” he will work to ensure “a successful transition between our presidencies.”

“We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” Obama said. “The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.”

Read more: Trump’s plan to kill Obamacare - a QuickTake guide

Republican leaders in Congress also were eager to meet with Trump and get started on legislation. Both Ryan and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said replacing Obamacare, the signature achievement of Obama’s presidency, would be among their top priorities.

Ryan said that the Republican-controlled Congress couldn’t enact legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in the face of a sure veto by Obama. That roadblock will be removed once Trump takes office Jan. 20.

‘Go Bold’

“With unified Republican government, we can fix this,” Ryan said of Obamacare as well as environmental and other regulations. “The opportunity is now here. And the opportunity is to go big, to go bold, and to get things done for the people of this country.”

McConnell said he “would be shocked” if a repeal isn’t dealt with. “The sooner we can go in a different direction, the better,” he said.

Despite his electoral win and overwhelming victories in many rural or predominantly white areas, Clinton may ultimately have won the popular vote, which was still being counted. That would mark the fifth time in U.S. history, and the second time since 2000, that someone has become president without a majority of the popular vote.

As of 3 p.m. New York time, Clinton was ahead with 59,670,969 votes to 59,460,467 for Trump, with some state counts not complete, according to the Associated Press. By comparison, Obama won 65,915,795 votes in his 2012 race against Mitt Romney, who got 60,933,504, according Federal Election Commission data.

Republicans also maintained their control of the Senate, though with a smaller margin than before as Democrats gained two seats. The chamber will have 52 Republicans to 48 for Democrats, which includes two independents. That will give Trump the upper hand in making nominations for the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming years. In the House, all 435 seats were on the ballot across the country, and Republicans held on to control even after losing a handful of seats.

In addition, several Democrats in the Senate face uphill races in 2018 with just eight Republicans up for re-election, and losses in statehouses during the Obama years means the party has largely depleted its bench of younger politicians.

First Day

Trump has promised to use his executive authority on his first day in office to withdraw from consideration the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal that hasn’t been ratified by Congress, and to notify partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement of his intent to renegotiate that trade deal.

He also has pledged to push through a massive tax cut for middle-income Americans and businesses, repeal Obamacare, and break ground on his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, which may face scrutiny for its cost.

Trump’s Promises

On other matters, though, Trump has been vague, often to the frustration of top policy minds in both parties. He has refused to clarify among differing statements on how he’d confront the Islamic State terrorist group and vacillated on whether he wants to deport all or many of the approximately 12 million undocumented people in the U.S. He’s also suggested he has no interest in combating climate change and mused about breaking away from NATO if other member states don’t pay more for their defense.

Trump had promised to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton for her use of private e-mail, but Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day” that he believes Trump will focus on other issues important to voters, such as the economy.

“I think the sentence and the conviction came last night in the vote,” Duffy said.

Asked whether Obama might issue Clinton a pre-emptive pardon before he leaves office in January, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration doesn’t discuss such cases in advance and indicated he hoped that wouldn’t be necessary. “We’ve got a long tradition in this country of people in power not using the criminal justice system to exact political revenge,” Earnest said.

Top Democrats, facing a sweeping loss, were slow to speak out on Wednesday as they adjusted to the reality that a split in the Republican Party that they’d counted on, combined with strong support from women and minorities, failed to win the presidency for Clinton.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told her party’s members on a conference call that common ground may be found in Trump’s victory speech emphasis on investment to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and create jobs doing so.

Progressive groups, including the AFL-CIO, urged Trump and Democrats to fulfill promises to voters frustrated with trade deals, slow wage growth, and the influence of Wall Street. At least one suggested in essence that Democrats would have been better off nominating Clinton’s primary challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“Progressives warned repeatedly that Republicans could outflank Democrats on trade, jobs, Wall Street, and corporate greed,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee Co-Founder Stephanie Taylor said in a statement. “Democrats will lose in the future -- over and over -- if they don’t go through a serious ideological shift and follow Elizabeth Warren’s lead -- fighting against the rigged economy in a truly authentic and real way.”

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