President Trump departed Washington for the final time Wednesday morning with a melancholy farewell — and a vow to return to the political arena — though he still did not directly acknowledge that voters had turned him out.
Though Trump had imagined a showy military send-off that more resembled authoritarian pageantry than the placid rituals of American electoral democracy, those dreams were dashed as only a modest crowd of a few hundred aides and other loyalists showed up at Joint Base Andrews to see him off.
“This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president,” Trump said, as his audience chanted, “Thank you, Trump!”
“I will always fight for you,” Trump said. “I will be watching. I will be listening. And I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they’ll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular.”
The Air Force One is seen on the tarmac before the departure ceremony of President Trump at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday.The Air Force One is seen on the tarmac before the departure ceremony of President Trump at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday.
As Trump concluded his remarks, he vowed, “We will be back in some form,” and he told his supporters, “Have a good life.”
Trump and first lady Melania Trump boarded Air Force One shortly before 9 a.m for their final flight on the presidential aircraft, en route to West Palm Beach, Fla. They will take up residence in Palm Beach at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club.
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Trump modeled his send-off event on the martial-themed arrival and departure ceremonies for foreign dignitaries. With a stiff wind whipping the American flags behind him, the outgoing president spoke from a stage lined with campaign-style bunting, with Air Force One in the background.