President Obama urges nation to unite after Trump's victory

By Charlotte Willis

President Barack Obama speaks about the election, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Photo / AP
President Barack Obama speaks about the election, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Photo / AP

President Obama addressed the nation from the White House's Rose Garden today, his first televised reaction to Donald Trump's stunning victory in the 2016 election.

After weeks of campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton, Obama said he is ready to welcome the President-elect to the White House today to ensure a "successful transition between our presidencies".

Obama commented that he had already called Trump at around 3.30am after the election to congratulate him and invite his newly elected successor to the White House to discuss the transition.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Photo / AP
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Photo / AP

"We are now all rooting for success in uniting and leading the country," Obama said in the brief statement after acknowledging the "significant differences" between the pair.

"The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy and we're going to show that to the world," he said, adding that the presidency is bigger than any one person.

"Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we are all actually one team. We are not Democrats first, we are not Republicans first, we are Americans first.

"We're patriots first. We all want what's best for this country."

The President said he was heartened by Trump's remarks early Wednesday morning, and that he hoped to move ahead in that spirit.

"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."

Showing admiration for Hillary Clinton in his closing remarks, Obama praised the Democratic candidate for her "extraordinary life of public service".

"I could not be prouder of her," he said. "She could not have been a better Secretary of State. I am proud of her, a lot of Americans look up to her, her candidacy and nomination was historic and sent a message to our daughters all across the country that they can achieve at the highest levels of politics."

He implored the young American people who got into politics for the first time and may be discouraged by the outcome: "You have to stay encouraged. Don't get cynical. Fighting for what is right is important. Don't ever think that you can't make a difference."

White House staff members applaud in the Rose Garden of the White House after listening to President Barack Obama speak about the election. Photo / AP
White House staff members applaud in the Rose Garden of the White House after listening to President Barack Obama speak about the election. Photo / AP

Just an hour earlier, Clinton spoke to her supporters and campaign staff at a hotel in New York City.

Wiping a tear from her eye, the defeated Democratic presidential nominee thanked her tireless supporters and said that she feels pride in the campaign that she ran. "I still believe in America and I always will," she promised.

Clinton was gracious and warm in her concession speech, urging her supporters to "look to the future" of what has been a bitter campaign and said Trump deserved a fair shot at the leadership.

"I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too and so do tens of millions of Americans," she said. Husband Bill was on stage behind her.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton conceded her defeat to Republican Donald Trump after the hard-fought presidential election. Photo / AP
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton conceded her defeat to Republican Donald Trump after the hard-fought presidential election. Photo / AP

"We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead."

She ended on an incredibly emotional note for the young women and girls in the audience, saying "nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion".

"I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling but someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now."

"To all the little girls watching this, never doubt you are powerful and valuable. Our best days are still ahead of us."

- news.com.au

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