Supercharging the bluster, hyperbole and media mastery that made him one of the world’s best-known businessmen, Donald Trump upended the U.S. democratic traditions on a headline-making quest that ultimately led him to the White House.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FILE – JUNE 16, 2015) (REUTERS) – Supercharging the bluster, hyperbole and media mastery that made him one of the world’s best-known businessmen, Donald Trump upended U.S. democratic traditions on a headline-making quest that ultimately led him to the White House.
Once he entered the Republican presidential race on June 16, 2015, Trump managed to be simultaneously charismatic and combative, elitist and populist, scatological and pious as he tapped into a vein of polarity and anti-Washington anger among American voters. It was his first run for public office and Trump called it a movement, not a campaign.
It took Trump, 70, little more than 10 months to vanquish 16 other candidates and win the Republican nomination but in so doing he created a rift in the party.
Then he squared off against Democrat Hillary Clinton, 69, in a race marked by controversies that included upheaval in his staff, charges he had groped women, and his claim, never supported, that Clinton and the media had rigged the election against him.
He shocked many by saying he might not accept the election result if he lost, repudiating a U.S. tradition of peaceful government transition. He said that as president he would investigate Clinton for her use of email while secretary of state. He vowed to send her to jail.
His campaign took a scandalous turn in early October with the release of a 2005 video in which Trump, unaware he was being recorded, told a television entertainment reporter that he liked to kiss women without invitation and that, because he was rich and famous, he could “grab them” by the genitals without recriminations.
Trump dismissed the remarks as “locker room talk” and denied the subsequent accusations from more than 10 women who said he had groped them or made unwanted sexual advances.
Throughout his campaign – and especially in his Republican convention speech in July – Trump described a dark America that had been knocked to its knees by China, Mexico, Russia and Islamic State. The American dream was dead, he said, smothered by malevolent business interests and the corrupt politicians, and he alone could revive it.
Trump said he would make America great again through the sheer force of his personality, negotiating skill and business acumen. He offered plans to win economic concessions from China, to build a wall on the southern U.S. border to keep out undocumented immigrants and to make Mexico pay for it. He vowed to repeal Obamacare while being the “greatest jobs president that God ever created” and keeping Muslims out of the country.
The rise of Trump, once a registered Democrat, threatened to blow up the Republican Party. Its establishment challenged his commitment to their tenets and organized against him. Prominent Republicans – including former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and congressional leaders – shunned him or offered lukewarm support.
Trump used Twitter as a weapon, firing off insults and mockery at those who offended him, including “Crooked Hillary” and Republican rivals “Little Marco” Rubio, Jeb “Low Energy” Bush and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz.
Another target was the family of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who died fighting in Iraq after the soldier’s father had spoken against Trump at the Democratic National Convention. Trump sniped back for days despite advice to move on.
By October, the New York Times had counted over 280 people and things he had insulted on Twitter since declaring his candidacy.
The Trump candidacy was brimming with contradictions. The candidate who vowed to bring back jobs to the United States had his clothing line and campaign hats manufactured in foreign countries. The man who decried the corrupting power of money in politics boasted of having bought influence himself.
Undocumented workers had been used on his building projects but as a candidate Trump vowed to ship illegal immigrants out of the country. He said no one respected women more than he did but even before the groping accusations emerged, he was branded a misogynist for making fun of the appearance of rival candidate Carly Fiorina and an apparent reference to the menstrual cycle of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.
Trump regularly made comments that would have doomed a more conventional candidate, such as when he said his supporters were so loyal that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue in New York and not lose a single vote.
In the final days before Nov. 8, an average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics website showed Clinton ahead by 1.7 percentage points.
But the Republican stunned the world by defeating heavily favored Clinton, ending eight years of Democratic rule and sending the United States on a new, uncertain path.
A wealthy real-estate developer and former reality TV host, Trump rode a wave of anger toward Washington insiders to defeat Clinton, whose gold-plated establishment resume includes stints as a first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
After lambasting President Barack Obama for months as a failed leader unfit to be president, the Republican president-elect found kinder words after the election for the man he will succeed in the White House on Jan. 20
Obama, a Democrat, met with Trump at the Oval Office on Nov. 10, two days after the presidential election.
Differences during the presidential campaign between Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan also gave way after the election to a working relationship as the president-elect prepared to take office.
Ryan, the top House Republican, has said the two men speak almost every day.
In late November, Trump and his chief of staff-designate Reince Priebus dined with another former Trump critic, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in New York.
During the presidential campaign, Romney called Trump a “phony” and “a fraud” but his meetings with Trump fueled speculation at the time that he was under consideration as secretary of state.
With more than 20 nominees now selected, Donald Trump’s cabinet appears much like the president-elect himself: mostly older, white males, many of them wealthy, who see themselves as risk-takers and deal-makers and prize action over deliberation.
A former senior U.S. official who knows Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO who is Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, and Marine General James Mattis, Trump’s pick for defense secretary, predicted a massive clash of egos in the cabinet.
In early December, Trump visited a factory in Indiana to kick off his “thank you tour” for his election win and to celebrate persuading air conditioner maker Carrier Corp to preserve around 1,000 jobs in the state rather than move them to Mexico.