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Hillary Clinton concession speech: We owe Donald Trump an open mind and a chance to lead

Hillary Clinton has addressed the public for the first time following her surprise election defeat to Donald Trump.

Clinton told supporters they owe Donald Trump "an open mind and a chance to lead".

Addressing stricken staff and voters at a New York City hotel, Mrs Clinton urged acceptance of Mr Trump's win after a campaign that appeared poised until election day to make her the first woman elected US president.

Mrs Clinton said she had offered to work with Mr Trump on behalf of a country that she acknowledged was "more deeply divided than we thought".

Flanked by husband Bill and daughter Chelsea Clinton Mezvinsky, Mrs Clinton's voice vibrated with emotion at times, especially as she acknowledged that she had not "shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling".

Mrs Clinton then made a direct plea to "all the little girls" watching: "Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every opportunity in the world and chance to pursue your dreams."

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The speech followed a dramatic election night in which Mr Trump captured battleground states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio and shattered a long-standing "blue wall" of states in the Upper Midwest that had backed every Democratic presidential candidate since her husband, Bill Clinton, won the presidency in 1992.

Democrats - starting with Mrs Clinton's campaign and the White House - were left wondering how they misread their country so completely. Mournful Clinton backers gathered outside the hotel on Wednesday.

"I was devastated. Shocked. Still am," said Shirley Ritenour, 64, a musician from Brooklyn. "When I came in on the subway this morning there were a lot of people crying. A lot of people are very upset."

The results were startling to Mrs Clinton and her aides, who had ended their campaign with a whirlwind tour of battleground states and had projected optimism that she would maintain the diverse coalition assembled by President Barack Obama in the past two elections.

On the final day of the campaign, Mrs Clinton literally followed Mr Obama to stand behind a podium with a presidential seal at a massive rally outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

As she walked up to the lectern, the president bent down to pull out a small stool so the shorter Mrs Clinton could address the tens of thousands gathered on the mall. Before leaving the stage, Mr Obama leaned over to whisper a message in Mrs Clinton's ear: "We'll have to make this permanent."

Mrs Clinton's stunning loss was certain to open painful soul-searching within the party, which had endured a lengthy primary between Mrs Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who drew strong support among liberals amid an electorate calling for change.

Barack Obama pledged a peaceful transition to Donald Trump, saying: "We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country."

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