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Elections 2012

Donald Trump Prepares To Take Office After Defeating Hillary Clinton

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President-elect Donald Trump's first words to the nation after his victory we're focused on healing divisions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division - have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.

(CHEERING)

CORNISH: Today Trump started the work of preparing to govern. NPR's Sarah McCammon has covered Donald Trump's campaign. She's with us now from New York. And Sarah, last night was seen as a vindication for Trump and his supporters who were doubted right up until the last minute. So how are they feeling today?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Well, from what I was hearing early this morning at the Trump victory party - excited, some a little surprised. I caught up with Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, early this morning as she was in the lobby of the hotel where the victory party was held. And she was just wrapping up a conversation on the phone with Trump. She was exhausted but elated and said they had reasons to be hopeful all along.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KELLYANNE CONWAY: It's what Donald Trump and Mike Pence have been working toward for months and months now, taking their message directly to the people, defying the naysayers, the critics, trusting our data over everyone else's data.

MCCAMMON: Trump has been saying for a long time that this is a movement, something unprecedented that's never been seen in American politics and that he was being underestimated. He questioned the polls all along, except for the ones that were in his favor. But he said he didn't believe the polls, predicted a Brexit-like surprise victory like we saw in Europe. And he turned out to be right.

Now, nobody would say by traditional standards that Trump ran a sophisticated campaign, so that was something his team was proud of, by the way - their lean operation. But it appears that he had better political instincts than anyone else this year.

CORNISH: What have you learned about how Trump is approaching the task of preparing to govern?

MCCAMMON: Well, Conway told me that that is their next task - to put together an administration. The team got together at Trump Tower today she said to reflect a bit. And they have had a transition team in place for months led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Also over the course of the campaign, Trump has thrown out names of people who might serve in his administration like Dr. Ben Carson, who also ran for the nomination and endorsed Trump. And he said, you know, Rudy Giuliani could have a role. Conway herself said she'd like a role in the administration.

Tomorrow Trump will be in Washington meeting with President Obama at Obama's at the White House, and we might expect to hear from them tomorrow.

CORNISH: Any sense of what the day-to-day running of a Trump administration might be like?

MCCAMMON: That is the big question. He does tout himself as a deal maker. It's a big part of Trump's identity. So how does that play out in terms of some of his big proposals like building a wall with Mexico or banning Muslim immigration? Those are really controversial parts of his platform that he didn't focus on last night. He instead talked about rebuilding infrastructure, something that's a very tangible policy and actually has bipartisan support.

Another big question - how he might untangle his businesses and potential conflicts of interest there, something he hasn't really answered questions about during this campaign. And finally, you know, among his close advisers are people like Steve Bannon of Breitbart News, which before this election was seen as part of the alt-right fringe. He's now a close adviser to the president-elect. So the question is what kind of influence he might have.

CORNISH: Listening to that tape from earlier, Donald Trump struck a very different tone last night than we've heard from him throughout the campaign. What stood out to you?

MCCAMMON: Yeah, after months of building the case that the establishment is corrupt and broken and that Hillary Clinton was central to that, he said, he congratulated Clinton for a hard-fought campaign, said that we owe a debt of gratitude to her for her public service. That was unexpected but in line with the American tradition of a peaceful transition of power.

And that clip we heard a moment ago about unifying the country reminded me of a line at the end of his stump speech where he would talk about bringing the country together, but he would say under one God and one flag, language that a lot of people found divisive. Those lines weren't there last night. Instead he talked about reaching out for guidance and asking people who hadn't supported him to help him lead the country.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Sarah McCammon. She's covering President-elect Donald Trump in New York. Sarah, thank you.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.