During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump called his opponent Hillary Clinton “crooked” and “the worst secretary of state,” among other insulting monikers, but on Capitol Hill on Friday, he had nothing but praise for his former opponent.
In remarks at the traditional inaugural luncheon in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, the business mogul and onetime reality TV host paused to lead a gathering of Washington’s political elite in applauding Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
“There is something that I wanted to say because I was very honored, very very honored when I heard that President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton was [sic] coming today, and I think that’s appropriate to say,” Trump said. “And I’d like you to stand up. I’d like you to stand up,” he continued.
The Clintons stood as Trump led an extended round of applause from the podium.
“And honestly, there’s nothing more I can say, because I have a lot of respect for those two people,” he said, pointing to the Clintons. “So thank you all for being here, and we’re going to have four great years, hopefully of peace and prosperity.”
The former secretary of state and first lady nodded her head in approval of Trump’s statement wishing for peace and prosperity over the course of his term in the White House.
Trump’s acknowledgment that he has “a lot of respect for” the Clintons is noteworthy, given that he harshly ridiculed his opponent and criticized the Clintons consistently during the often bitter campaign for the White House.
He frequently referred to his opponent as “crooked Hillary” both on the campaign trail and in his tweets. At a debate in October, Trump said that if he were elected, he would instruct his future attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate what he alleged were her lies and deception regarding the use of her email server as secretary of state. He also said that if he were running the U.S. legal system, she would be in jail. “Lock her up!” was a common chant at his campaign rallies.
Just before the second presidential debate, Trump attempted to reignite scandals from the Clintons’ past by holding a press conference flanked by several women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies hosts the traditional inaugural luncheon every four years. The tradition dates back to a luncheon held for President William McKinley in 1897, but did not take its current shape until 1953.
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See more of our inauguration coverage here.