Republican Donald Trump, who entered politics after a career in real estate and reality TV, defied pollsters and pundits Tuesday to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton for the presidency.
"Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division," Trump told a crowd of joyous supporters at 3 a.m. ET. "... We're going to dream of things for our country and beautiful things and successful things once again."
Clinton called Trump to concede after Trump had taken several battleground states, including Florida and Ohio.
President Obama called Trump early Wednesday while Trump was speaking to his supporters in New York, his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said. Trump called him back after he left the stage, she said.
Conway said Obama congratulated Trump and the two had what she described as a "very nice talk."
The White House said President Obama will make a statement on Wednesday at the White House "to discuss the election results and what steps we can take as a country to come together after this hard-fought election season."
Obama invited Trump to meet with him at the White House on Thursday "to update him on the transition planning his team has been working on for nearly a year. Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the President identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the President-elect is the next step," the statement said.
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The White House also said Obama "called Clinton and expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country." Clinton was expected to address the election's outcome in a speech Wednesday morning.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also reached out to president-elect Trump, writing in a telegram that he, "expressed hope for cooperation in ending a crisis in Russian-American relations, as well as solving the important issues on the global agenda and searching for efficient responses to global security challenges," according to a statement issued by the Kremlin.
Trump sent his first tweet as president-elect early Wednesday, saying: "Such a beautiful and important evening! The forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again. We will all come together as never before."
Video by Nina Lin/NBC
And House Speaker Paul Ryan said later in the morning that Trump had "turned politics on its head."
"He just earned a mandate," Ryan said.
Trump, 70, directed his campaign primarily at white, working-class men who felt left behind by the economic recovery after the 2008 recession, and insecure in an increasingly globalized economy. When Clinton said that half of Trump's supporters belonged in a basket of deplorables, they embraced the insult.
He promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out undocumented immigrants, to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country and to ban Muslims from entering the United States. But as with many of his positions, the details changed repeatedly and the exact provisions are unclear.
He claimed that the economy was in collapse, and promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. He said that the country's military was in shambles and pledged to beat ISIS in the Middle East. He promised to repeal Obamacare.
Trump's campaign faltered in October after he was heard bragging about groping women and trying to have sex with them in a videotape with Billy Bush, then of "Access Hollywood."
Bush, a "Today" show host at the time the tape was released, was fired by NBC as a result. Trump apologized for what he repeatedly called "locker room talk," but many Republicans, particularly women, condemned his comments and abandoned his campaign.
Trump, whose candidacy was treated with wide skepticism when he launched his campaign, beat 16 other Republicans to become the GOP nominee. He was considered insufficiently conservative, his positions criticized by many mainstream Republican leaders as inconsistent and contradictory. His choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was seen as an attempt to mute that criticism.
Trump, who graduated from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania, rode to victory partly on name recognition built over decades, starting in New York City and spreading around the world.
The son of a real estate developer, Trump took his inheritance — he says it was $1 million — and built his own businesses, dangling opulence with endless self-promotion. One of his first big projects, completed in 1980 with the help of guaranteed loans from his father and generous tax breaks, was to transform what had been the Commodore Hotel into the dazzling Grand Hyatt hotel, next to Grand Central Terminal. He built the Trump Tower in Manhattan, Trump hotels, a Trump casino empire in Atlantic City that later fell into bankruptcy and Trump-branded luxury goods.
Trump became even better known with "The Apprentice" on NBC, which featured competing business people who were eliminated with his catch phrase, "You're fired."
NBC Universal ended its business relationship with him due to "derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants." The decision came after Trump announced he was running for president, when he said Mexico was sending rapists and other criminals to the United States.
Trump's personal finances were the subject of repeated controversy during the campaign. The real estate businessman and reality show star refused to release his tax returns, raising questions about his worth and how much he had paid in taxes. The New York Times later was given tax records that showed he had declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, which would have allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years.
He long questioned where President Obama was born, finally conceding in September that he was born in the United States but immediately falsely claiming that Clinton had started the conspiracy talk.
Toward the end of the race, with polls showing Trump trailing Clinton, he claimed the election was rigged by a dishonest media. He hedged when he was asked whether he would accept the outcome of the election.
Outside the Hilton Hotel in New York City, where Donald Trump and his campaign were watching the election results roll in, supporters chanted "President Trump."
Cars passing the Trump supporters honked, some shouting "Go Trump!" The street rally got louder with every honk. A handful of people were selling Make America Great Again merchandise — Trump flags, pins, hats.
Inside, Trump told the crowd: "As I’ve said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement."
At 2 a.m. ET, Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, took the stage at the Clinton gathering and told campaign supporters to go home.
"Several states are too close to call, and we won’t have anything more to say tonight," Podesta said. "She is not done yet. Thank you for being with her. She has been with you."
Global stock markets and U.S. stock futures plunged, reflecting investor concern over what a Trump presidency might mean for the economy and trade. But after Trump's victory speech markets pared their losses. U.S. stocks were mixed early trading on Wednesday.
NBC News projected Trump as the apparent winner in Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He was the prdojected winner in Alaska, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Carolina, Missouri, Utah, Georgia and Iowa.
Clinton was projected to win Maine, Vermont, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, New York, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada and Washington. Clinton also was the projected winner in the District of Columbia.
Shortly after 3 a.m. ET, Trump had 278 electoral votes, with Clinton at 218. At 1 a.m. ET all voting ended, as the polls in Alaska closed.
Exit polls showed women nationwide supported Clinton by a double-digit margin, while men were significantly more likely to back Trump. More than half of white voters backed the Republican, while nearly 9 in 10 blacks and two-thirds of Hispanics voted for the Democrat.
Doug Ratliff, a 67-year-old businessman from Richlands, Virginia, said Trump's election was one of the happiest days of his life.
"This county has had no hope," said Ratliff, who owns strip malls in an area badly beaten by the collapse of the coal industry. "Things will change. I know he's not going to be perfect. But he's got a heart. And he gives people hope."
The Republican Party's tortured relationship with its nominee was evident right up to the end. Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush declined to back Trump, instead selecting "none of the above" when they voted for president, according to spokesman Freddy Ford.
House Speaker Ryan, a reluctant Trump supporter, called the businessman earlier in the evening to congratulate him, according to a Ryan spokeswoman. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the American people "have chosen a new direction for our nation."
President Obama, who campaigned vigorously for Clinton throughout the fall and hoped his own rising popularity would lift her candidacy, was silent on Trump's victory as the results came in. It will be a potentially awkward meeting with the man who pushed false rumors that the president might have been born outside the United States.
Democrats, as well as some Republicans, expected Trump's unconventional candidacy would damage down-ballot races and even flip some reliably red states in the presidential race. But Trump held on to Republican territory, including in Georgia and Utah, where Clinton's campaign confidently invested resources.
Clinton asked voters to keep the White House in her party's hands for a third straight term. She cast herself as heir to Obama's legacy and pledged to make good on his unfinished agenda, including passing immigration legislation, tightening restrictions on guns and tweaking his health care law.
But she struggled throughout the race with persistent questions about her honesty and trustworthiness. Those troubles flared anew late in the race, when FBI Director James Comey announced a review of new emails from her tenure at the State Department.
On Sunday, just two days before Election Day, Comey said there was nothing in the material to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.