CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Seeking to become the nation’s first female president, Hillary Clinton cast her ballot Tuesday and settled down to wait for the country to make its choice.
The Democratic nominee and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, voted at an elementary school near their home in suburban New York before greeting supporters waiting for her outside.
“It is the most humbling feeling,” she said of voting for herself for president. “I know how much responsibility goes with this.”
It was a relatively calm moment Tuesday compared with Clinton’s hectic final few days day on the campaign trail. The former secretary of state and New York senator dashed through battleground states, encouraged get-out-the-vote efforts and campaigned with a star-studded cast of celebrity supporters.
It was an election eve punctuated by an emotional rally in Philadelphia with her husband, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as performances by Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, and capped by Lady Gaga, who serenaded thousands of supporters before the Clintons took the stage for a 1 a.m. rally in Raleigh, North Carolina. It ended with cheering fans greeting her at the airport back in New York when she landed in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
After the divisive rhetoric of the campaign against Republican Donald Trump, Clinton sought to offer a positive closing message on Monday. She told supporters in Pittsburgh they “can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, bighearted America.” In a buoyant mood, she also greeted voters who cried out “we love you,” smiling back: “I love you all, too … absolutely.”
Some good news boosted Clinton’s spirits in the final moments of the campaign. On Sunday, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress, informing lawmakers the bureau had found no evidence in its hurried review of newly discovered emails to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.
The late October announcement of a fresh email review rocked the race just as Clinton appeared to be pulling away from Trump in several battleground states. The update from the FBI may have come too late for some: In the nine days between Comey’s initial statement until his “all clear” announcement on Sunday, nearly 24 million people cast early ballots. That’s about 18 per cent of the expected total votes for president.
But campaign aides projected confidence in the final moments. They said they felt good about Nevada, where they said support for Clinton in early voting was strong. They were encouraged by the strong Latino turnout in Florida and felt they took a strong lead in Michigan and Pennsylvania into Election Day, when the bulk of votes are cast in those states.
Leading up to Election Day, Clinton made stops in Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and New Hampshire – often flanked by star guests. Jay Z and Beyonce performed with pant-suited backup dancers in Cleveland. James Taylor serenaded New Hampshire voters and Katy Perry sang “Roar” in Philadelphia.
She also campaigned with Khizr Khan, the father of a slain U.S. Army officer whose indictment of Trump at the Democratic National Convention was an emotional high point for Clinton’s party.
Her last two days on the campaign trail felt almost like a Clinton family reunion, with some of her closest confidants jumping on the campaign plane for her final hours. Even Huma Abedin, her embattled personal aide caught up in the email controversy, jumped on the plane for the midnight rally in Raleigh.