The U.S 2016 elections has been deemed “unprecedented” because indeed it has been one of the most unconventional campaigns in the history of the United States. The 2016 elections would go down as one of the greatest American news stories of all time. As of January 20th 2017, Donald Trump who ran quite a campaign and won the race to the White House got inaugurated and is now the 45th President of the United States.
From the thousands of protesters that came out to protest during the election night in front of the White House gates after it was obvious that Donald Trump was going to win the presidency, to the tale of what Obama was doing at that exact time and some major progression of events of the election week, this piece chronicles my personal report and experience of the election week from inside the White House.
NOVEMBER 8TH/9TH 2016: ELECTION DAY
Have you once wondered what happens from inside the White House on election night? On this Election Day November 8th, as the night drew by and the polls began closing, it was obvious that the battle to the White House was one that would arouse reactions and emotions. Covering a historical election night from inside the White House was a more personal and unique angle to report from compared to what mainstreams like CNN was giving.
I covered with a reporter ThuyLan Phan and we did bits of Facebook live videos to update our audience. Around 7 pm when most polls began closing, in DC outside the gates of the White House we noticed a number of people just hanging around. Of course the symbolism of the White House on a night such as this means that people want to be a part of history and as close to the most symbolic monument as possible which is also why people flock to the White House surrounding areas and why major media conduct their news on this day as close as possible so they can use the White House as their news backdrop- it’s a great symbol that wraps one into the historic moment in a most intimate way. On the streets outside the white House gates prior to election win announcement we went out of the White House to possibly get some interviews and examine the climate and vibe of people’s anticipation as they wait for the election results to be announced.
While the night was still young with no major poll outcomes significant enough to suspect a winner, our stroll outside the White House gates to interview members of the public about what they felt regarding the candidates seemed unfruitful because we couldn’t get a balanced report. Over an hour outside chatting with people and only one person admitted to being a Trump supporter, all others said they were Hillary supporters who were there to celebrate her victory if she won, another handful of others refused to share who they voted for or shared that they voted for the third party guy who doesn’t even know what Aleppo is.
Protest In front of the White House : By 1am election count was still processing entering Wednesday, November 9th – the results had still not been called but it was clear who the winner was going to be. We soon returned back inside the White House as the hours got closer to midnight. What seemed to be a calm, quite anxious but somewhat hopeful environment both inside the White House and as we could tell from the solemness of the air in the White House surrounding areas, quickly turned to massive crowd of over a thousand people packed outside the White House gates chanting the words F*** Trump. It was a scary and highly emotional moment to behold as I expressed in my video stream. Trump had not yet officially been announced the winner but he was in the lead, the news still said, “Too close to call”, however the obvious outcome couldn’t be ignored any longer even for the most optimistic of all.
More crowd of protesters gathered outside the White House chanting words against Donald Trump and at 2am, was informed by a member of the Secret Service that the number of protesters was around a thousand who had gathered outside the White House gates as the election outcome was announced. We streamed on Facebook live the humongous crowd that camped all night as it was obvious that Trump had become the new President-elect of the United States. While streaming Secret Service ensured we didn’t stay close to the gates for safety reasons as we tried to share with the world what the reactions outside this symbolic gates was.
Image of protesters climbing on the trees. Crowds gathered on the north side of the White House near Lafayette Park, carrying American flags and campaign signs. The crowd, which was initially composed of primarily of young college-age students and supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton, grew more diverse as it grew larger. There also appeared to be quite a few Trump supporters in the crowd. At times, protesters chanted “black lives matter” and “f— Donald Trump.”
What was Obama doing on Election Night?
I was told by a source that the President was in his residence following the results just like everybody was but David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker was also present at the White House and was with the President at that time. In his article OBAMA RECKONS WITH A TRUMP PRESIDENCY, Remnick recounts specific details of the President’s state on this night.
“On Election Night, Obama was upstairs in the White House residence. Tens of millions of people turned on televisions and started checking their phones and laptops long before the polls on the East Coast closed, but Obama did not. “I generally don’t start paying attention to returns until, like, ten o’clock,” he said, “because, first of all, I got a lot of people who do that for me, and, second of all, there’s really nothing there, so it’s all a bunch of speculation or anxiety that’s playing itself out, and people are attaching themselves to various numbers.” – Remnick’s account of Obama.
Take us back to first 2008 and then 2012, Obama becoming president was one of the best things that seemed to have marched America forward, thousands of people were outside the White House in celebration but can you imagine the opposite of what a celebratory win looked like on November 8th? A highly emotional one that got America shaken up. One can develop a sense that the reactions would have been very similar if either candidate had one, if Hillary won perhaps more of Trump supporters would have gone to street as well?
The night was long but far from over. We went inside the James S. Brady Press Briefing room, a small theater in the West Wing to catch some updates from the TV stations on how the reactions in the different states was. The beginning of series of protests not only in front of the White House but around the nation as you probably are already aware, emerged.
LATER NOVEMBER 9TH 2016
Few hours later, still inside the White House, early mornings of November 9th around 4-5am we got some memo that the president had called the President-elect Trump to congratulate him and the President also called Secretary Clinton and expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country. The President was set to make a statement on that day around noon to discuss the election results. We captured that as well, streaming live to our audience via Facebook. The world at a stand still.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest gave over 2 hours of briefings after President Obama had given his first post-election speech.
Still at the White House, we streamed on facebook live very briefly where there were a number of people in-front of the White House gates holding candle-light vigil. They remained in front of the gates for a few hours before moving to continue the peaceful protest in-front of Trump Towers on Penn Avenue.
November 10th 2016
The president invited the President-elect to the White House for what would begin a series of formalities for a smooth transition of power which I covered on the Huffington Post.
Three days at the White House and we are left with nothing but more questions and analysis to be done about how historic this campaign has been. Trump is President-elect of the United States, Secretary Clinton ran a powerful campaign and made history in the act, as of Friday, November 11th 2016, protests still continue on the streets in different States and Counties of the U.S.
In all this, one thing we remain certain of is that this election will go in all history textbooks and will remain a subject to forever be examined and analyzed.
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