Donald Trump is showing flashes of his classic form, lashing out on Twitter at the protesters raging against his imminent presidency, before cleaning up the comment the next morning.
“Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday night, before making an about-face early on Friday. “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”
The tension between candidate Trump and President-elect Trump is crackling, as the billionaire tries to reassure the country that he is ready for its top job. He was exceedingly gracious in his victory speech early Wednesday morning, telling rally attendees and the millions watching on TV that “it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division.” Of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic opponent who he derided as “crooked” and a “nasty woman,” Trump said she “has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.”
His conciliatory tone has, thus far, gone a long way towards calming the financial markets that were at first very nervous about his ascendancy to the White House. The U.S. stock market plunged in overnight trading as it became clear that Trump would secure a shocking victory on Election Night, only to turn upwards as he delivered his surprisingly measured celebratory remarks.
There was also positive news from Trump’s roughly 90-minute meeting Wednesday in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama, who characterized his discussion with his successor as “excellent.” In remarks before the presidential press pool, Obama told Trump he was committed to doing “everything we can to help you succeed—because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.” Trump, for his part, called the president “a very good man” and said he would seek Obama’s counsel once he assumed office.
It was a stunning shift in tone for both men, who had never met but spent years attacking each other. Trump railed against Obama’s administration at nearly every campaign event and got his start in the political realm by loudly backing the so-called “birther” movement that questioned whether Obama had been born in the U.S. In campaigning for Clinton, the president referred to Trump as “temperamentally unfit” and “uniquely unqualified” to hold the office of commander in chief.
But despite his recent turn toward a more unifying message, glimpses of Trump as the combative, bombastic candidate remain. His Thursday night tweet capped a day in which he refused to allow a press pool to travel with him to Washington for his meeting with Obama, breaking with decades of tradition by matching his campaign’s practice of keeping reporters off of the real estate mogul’s plane.
A spokesman for the president-elect confirmed Thursday that a pool would soon travel with Trump, but the pool reporter was initially kept outside Trump Tower on Friday morning by the New York Police Department before eventually being allowed into the lobby.
Despite Trump’s appeals for unity, protests broke out after Election Day in cities across the nation. Thousands of protesters continued to demonstrate Thursday night, with some demonstrators in Portland, Oregon smashing storefront windows.
Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and a senior adviser to Trump’s campaign, called protesters on college campuses across the country “spoiled crybabies” in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, but urged the president-elect to reach out to them anyway and ask them to give him a chance as president to “prove himself.”
Kellyanne Conway, who took over Trump’s floundering campaign in August and guided it to an improbable win, called on Obama or Clinton to denounce a protester captured on CNN who said “there will be casualties on both sides. There will be, because people have to die to make a change in this world.”