Clinton awaits results with family and close aides

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Clinton was ensconced in a luxury Manhattan hotel suite Tuesday night, watching the returns with a close group of family members and campaign aides as she awaited word on whether she would become the first woman to serve as president.

As polls closed in many eastern states, Clinton and her Republican opponent Donald Trump each claimed a handful of states and their electoral votes. But the critical states that will determine the outcome of the election, including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, remained way too close to call.

Earlier in the day, Clinton voted at an elementary school near her suburban New York home with her husband, ex- President Bill Clinton. By Tuesday evening there was little left for her to do but watch, wait, and play with her grandchildren. The group snacked on salmon, roasted carrots, and fries — vegan pizza and crΦme brulee for the former president. The Clintons also stepped away to work on her remarks for later in the night.

Clinton’s campaign picked a symbolic location for her election night party — the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, which, in a nod to the historic moment, offers a glass ceiling.

A number of New York politicians and top campaign surrogates were expected to speak, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, singer Katy Perry and Khizr Khan, the father of a slain Muslim-American solider whose indictment of Trump at the Democratic National Convention was an emotional high point for Clinton’s campaign.

As Clinton was ensconced with a collection of close campaign aides and her family in a suite at the Peninsula New York, a luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan, where she was watching returns and playing with her grandchildren. The group was snacking on salmon, roasted carrots, and fries — along with vegan pizza and crΦme brule for former President Bill Clinton, who’s careful about his diet. Her granddaughter Charlotte wore what an aide described as “a very adorable Hillary-themed dress,” emblazoned with the campaign logo.

Her subdued Election Day was a stark contrast from Clinton’s hectic final days 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 celebrities. The eve of the election included appearances with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga.

After the divisive rhetoric of the campaign against 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 percent of the expected total votes for president.

But campaign aides projected confidence. 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.

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