Donald Trump met privately with his wife, Melania. “Baby, I’ll tell you what. We’re not going to win tonight, because the polls have come out, and it’s looking bad.
“But, you know what, I’m okay with it. I couldn’t have worked any harder. You can’t do any worse than that. I mean, I just couldn’t have done it. And if I lose, I lose. And you know what? If I lose, I’m going to have a nice, easy life. We can all relax, together, right?”
But Melania, who had consistently told him from the beginning that he would win, would have none of it. Again, at this moment, when the experts all agreed it was over, and it was being proclaimed on television and he was giving her the bad news, she was still not convinced. She listened politely and then then answered back once again. “It’s not over,” she told him. “You are going to win.”
Donald Trump may have been a little skeptical, but he did not totally reject Brad Parscale’s numbers.
“Their numbers are all based on the wrong turnout probabilities,” Parscale insisted. “You are going to win, sir.”
“Well, you may be right,” Trump said to Brad.
During this conversation, someone asked the candidate what he would do if the networks were right—which it appeared was going to happen. What should they plan? Would he stop by the party at the Hilton to greet the people who were waiting? They needed to know how to handle it.
“You know what?” Trump said, “I’m just going to go downstairs and make a statement and the next day I’ll get on my plane and go play golf in Ireland.” That was it. That was how the marathon presidential campaign would end. Right where it had begun. At the bottom of that escalator in Trump Tower. Or out on the streets of Fifth Avenue.
For a moment, still uncertain, waiting for television anchors to confirm what his own team was telling him, Donald Trump sat transfixed by what he was seeing on television. He was now watching the Clinton supporters at the Javits Center as they tracked the returns. There was a slight, delayed reaction to what he was learning from his own team and what was being reported to the public.
“Look at these crying Clinton supporters, imagine how they feel?” Trump said, studying the tear-streaked faces of young ladies at the Javits Center. “They never saw it coming. Just think how hard they have worked. It must be terrible. It must be terrible.”
For weeks, he had been bracing himself for those same feelings. Ivanka was struck by the contrast between her father’s mood and the jubilation echoing in the staff rooms in other parts of Trump Tower. She understood the joy of the team, even the gloating. They had every right to rejoice in a very hard-fought and bitter political victory. “New York hates you!” the crowd had screamed at the Trumps when they had voted earlier that day. But Ivanka knew her father was in no mood to rub it in.
“This was a part of Donald Trump that the public doesn’t see,” she told me in an interview about that night. “He defies typecasting. I think it’s an area in which he is misunderstood. He is really very compassionate.”
Trump dramatically ripped up the speech. “This is totally wrong,” he said. “We have to reach out to those people we saw crying tonight and we have to tell them that it’s going to be okay. And we are going to come together.”
Ivanka remembered the moment as almost magical. “His instinct was so immediate and so strong,” she said, referring to her father’s mood. “It was a beautiful thing. His first reaction was to feel deeply about what the Clinton supporters were experiencing. And partly because everyone had told them that this was an outcome that was not possible. He was supersensitive to that, and you saw it reflected in his words.
“It was close to midnight by then.” Ivanka recalled. “And yet, in that brief moment, none of us felt tired. We felt good about the country, and I felt good about my father and his desire to bring the country together. I have so many photos of us just sitting together and rewriting that speech. The feeling in that room was really something beautiful.”
*From the pages of Inside Trump’s White House
Excerpts and Stories from Doug’s New Book Inside Trump’s White House