Hillary Clinton: ‘This is painful, and it will be for a long time’

Democrat says she hopes Trump ‘will be a president for all of the US’ in concession speech

Hillary Clinton has called on her supporters to give Republican president-elect Donald Trump "the chance to lead", saying the property magnate was owed "an open mind" after his sensational success in the US presidential election.

Ms Clinton made the comments as she delivered her concession speech in New York on Wednesday following her surprise defeat in the vote.

Flanked by her husband Bill and daughter Chelsea, as well as her running mate Tim Kaine, Ms Clinton held back tears as she conceded defeat and urged Americans to unite.

“This is painful, and it will be for a long time,” she said. “But I want you to remember this: our campaign was never about one person or even one election.

“It was about the country we love - and about building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted.”

The remarks, delivered to campaign staff at a New York hotel, were Ms Clinton's first public comments since congratulating Mr Trump on his victory in a phone call early on Wednesday morning.

With some counts still to be completed on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Clinton led Mr Trump in the popular vote by 47.7 per cent to 47.5 per cent, but the Republican was ahead in electoral college votes by 289 to 218, with Michigan, New Hampshire and Minnesota still to be called.

“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America - and I always will. And if you do, too, then we must accept this result -- and then look to the future,” Ms Clinton said.

“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

As if to emphasise the point, Ms Clinton wore a blazer with purple lapels and both Mr Clinton and Mr Kaine wore purple ties - purple being the colour of unity and bipartisanship in US politics.

The principle of a peaceful transfer of power was enshrined in the country’s constitutional democracy, she said, and must not only be respected but cherished.

In a clear allusion to Mr Trump, who in his campaign questioned the legitimacy of government institutions and took a hostile stance towards immigrants and Muslims, she added that the US constitution also enshrined “the rule of law, the principle that we’re all equal in rights and dignity, and the freedom of worship and expression.

“We respect and cherish these things too - and we must defend them.”

She added that she hoped Mr Trump would be “a successful president for all Americans”.

American Dream

In her speech to distraught supporters, Ms Clinton said that for a year and a half her campaign had brought together millions of people from every corner of the US “to say with one voice that we believe that the American Dream is big enough for everyone - for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities”.

That effort must not end with her defeat, she said.

“Our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.”

Addressing young people who had worked for and supported her campaign, Ms Clinton reflected on how in her life she had had successes and setbacks, “sometimes really painful ones”, and so would they.

But she implored them not to despair.

“This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.”

Nothing made her prouder than to be the champion of women, and while she regretted that she could not shatter the “highest glass ceiling” by becoming the first woman to lead the US, she assured her supporters that, someday, someone would reach that landmark, “hopefully sooner than we might think right now”.

“And to all the little girls watching right now: never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.”

The former first lady, senator and secretary of state concluded with a biblical reference.

“Scripture tells us: ‘Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.’

“My friends, let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.”

Trump’s victory

On Wednesday, Mr Trump put aside the celebrations and focused on his 73-day transition to the White House, as outgoing Democratic president Barack Obama and leading figures in the Republican party who had struggled to make peace with Trump all vowed to move past the ugliness of an angry campaign to seek common ground.

Mr Trump stunned the world by defeating heavily-favoured rival Clinton in the vote, ending eight years of Democratic rule and sending the country on a new, uncertain path.

The victory by the political outsider, amplified by a Republican sweep of the Senate and House of Representatives, marks a repudiation of Mr Obama's policies that was fuelled by an apparent backlash against globalisation in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Coupled with the Republican victories in the House and Senate, the results provide Mr Trump with a clean state of power that Republicans have not enjoyed since the Reagan era.

Mr Trump strode to victory with a series of wins in battleground states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, propelled by white, working-class “Trump Democrats”.

The win by the wealthy real estate developer and former reality TV host upended the predictions of most pollsters and investors and led to sharp swings in financial markets.

At a speech at the White House after Ms Clinton’s concession on Wednesday, Mr Obama said: “It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. But remember that eight years ago, president [George W] Bush and I had some pretty significant differences.

“The presidency and vice-presidency is bigger than any of us.

“We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading this country. The peaceful transfer of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.

“I could not be prouder of [Ms Clinton] . . . A lot of Americans look up to her. Her candidacy and nomination was historic.

“Everybody is sad when their side loses their election. But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on the same team . . . we’re patriots first.

“That’s what I heard when I spoke to [Mr Trump] directly, and I was heartened by that. That’s what our country needs. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition and I certainly hope that’s how his presidency has a chance to begin.”

Mr Obama spoke to reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House in a post-election ritual meant to signal the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next.

Mr Obama, who campaigned hard against Mr Trump, telephoned the Republican on Wednesday “to congratulate him on his victory” and invited him to the White House for a meeting on Thursday.

Speaking on Wednesday, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Mr Trump has “turned politics on its head” and promised “hand-in-hand” work on the Republican agenda.

In his victory speech in New York, Mr Trump concluded one of the most divisive campaigns in history by calling on the country to come together, as he stressed his intention to be a president for all Americans, whether they had supported him or not.

“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together,” he said.

“To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”

After months of vicious rhetoric against his opponent, Mr Trump congratulated Ms Clinton, who he said had called him to concede, and thanked the former first lady, senator and secretary of state for her years of public service.

“Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely,” he said.

“As I’ve said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign, but rather an incredible and great movement,” Mr Trump said.

“It’s a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.”


Governments in Britain, China, Germany, Israel, Japan and Turkey, as well as Russia, congratulated Mr Trump and said they would work with him.

After months of warm comments about authoritarian leaders such as Russian president Vladimir Putin, coupled with threats to downgrade the US's relationships with its allies, Mr Trump tried to assure the world that he would not be the temperamentally-unfit commander-in-chief that Ms Clinton and Mr Obama portrayed him to be.

“I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone . . . all people and all other nations,” said Mr Trump.

“We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny offered Mr Trump “sincere congratulations” on his election victory and said he was confident the relationship between Ireland and the US will “continue to prosper”.

Mr Trump’s victory reverberated across the globe - but particularly in Europe, where similar brands of populism are on the rise.

France and Germany have national elections next year, while Italians will go to the polls in December for a constitutional referendum that could determine the political future of prime minister Matteo Renzi.

“Today the United States, tomorrow - France,” tweeted Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the country’s far-right National Front.

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped to reach "new heights" in bilateral ties under Mr 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 neighbour Mexico was pitched into deep uncertainty by the victory for Mr Trump, who has often accused it of stealing US jobs and sending criminals across the border.

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

With one position still unfilled on the nine-member supreme court, and the possibility of further age-related vacancies over the next four years, the new president is also likely to have a lasting impact on the third branch of government.

“This is a historic night,” said the vice-president-elect, Mike Pence, in the first official Republican response, introducing Trump.

“The American people have spoken and the American people have elected their new champion.”

Additional reporting: Guardian/Reuters/Financial Times

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is an Assistant Editor of The Irish Times