Republican Donald Trump scored a dramatic win on Wednesday in one of the most bitterly fought battles for the White House to become the 45th US President.
With the surprise victory that defied most predictions, billionaire Trump, 70, thwarted Democrat Hillary Clinton’s dream to be the first US female President of America.
US media outlets said Trump won with 288 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 215. The winner needed 270 out of 438 total electoral votes to control the White House.
Tuesday’s election capped months of divisive campaign and ugly, personal attacks that took a heavy toll on American voters, many of whom were eager to see a change in Washington and break the status quo of eight years of Democratic rule of President Barack Obama.
In his victory speech here, Trump sounded conciliatory and pledged to be the leader “for all Americans” who needed to “come together as one united people”.
Addressing cheering supporters, he called for rapprochement between the Republicans and Democrats and even thanked Clinton – a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State.
“It is time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together,” he said to loud cries of “USA, USA”.
It was one of the most dramatic victories in a Presidential battle. Only weeks ago Trump appeared to be losing after he was heard making outrageous sexist remarks in a leaked video.
On Wednesday, a confident Trump promised to make “America great again” and rebuild its infrastructure, “which will become, by the way, second to none… We will embark upon a project of national growth.
“We have a great economic plan. We will double our growth and have the strongest economy anywhere in the world.”
Trump said the US under his leadership “will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us. America will no longer settle for anything that is less than the best.
“I want to tell the world community that while we will put American interests on top, we will deal fairly with everyone.”
Mike Pence, 57, will be Trump’s Vice President. Trump’s “leadership will make America great again”, Pence said shortly after Trump was declared the winner.
The celebrity, controversial businessman will be the oldest President ever elected to a first term. He is also the first to win the US Presidency without having previously held public office or served in the US military.
The election results, repudiating Washington’s political elite and pundits who had predicted a Clinton victory, indicated that it was a plainspoken challenge to political correctness of Clinton that mattered for voters.
The presumption, of almost all American news outlets, was that Trump had a far narrower path to the White House than Clinton.
But all predictions proved wrong brick by brick as the results poured in. Trump pocketed several states including battleground Florida, Ohio and North Carolina as well as states that were expected to go the Clinton way.
The decisive results came from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where Clinton did not hold a single event during the campaign because she was so sure of her victory, The Washington Post said.
As her supporters wept, Clinton called Trump to concede the defeat and congratulate him.