Has Trump's Stumping Already Frayed Transatlantic Ties?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks on Nov. 9 in Berlin, saying that Germany is prepared to work with a Trump administration that respects “democracy, freedom” and human “dignity.” Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

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Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Americans didn’t elect Europe’s favored candidate. And while the election answered one question, Americans also created a huge torrent of others for Europeans. European Union leaders hadn’t fully contemplated the possibility they’d have to deal with the unknown quantity of a President Donald Trump.

The uncertainty is so all-consuming that EU foreign ministers have been called to Brussels for a special dinner Sunday night in the hopes they can dispense with the inevitable “what the heck just happened?” confab. That will then, conceivably, make it possible to concentrate on the other issues scheduled for Monday’s regular meeting.

Clues to Trump’s transatlantic plans, if they exist yet, are few — European issues rarely came up on the campaign trail. But when they did, candidate Trump generally lobbed diatribes against such transatlantic fixtures as U.S. support for EU unity — he cheered the Brexit outcome that’s wracking the bloc — and NATO collective defense, which he has implied should be changed into pay-as-you-go security guarantees.

Peppered with queries from journalists about the direction new transatlantic cooperation will take, EU officials have only reiterated that they simply don’t know what to expect. In other words, they are holding out hope that President Trump’s policies may be different from candidate Trump’s positions.

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“Hope” is a theme prominently displayed in the office of the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. The word is on a huge framed poster of President Obama hanging right behind her desk, the famous Shepard Fairey artwork used in Obama’s 2008 campaign. In an exclusive interview Wednesday, Mogherini looks at the poster wistfully and recalls a phrase Obama had used with pride after his first White House win: “Everything is possible in America.”

Now, Mogherini says pointedly, that statement can be read two ways.

It’s a message that hasn’t been lost on leading politicians in key EU countries — France, Germany and the Netherlands — who will soon face challengers that may have once been considered long shots “too extreme” for a majority of citizens.

The 43-year-old Mogherini, who has headed EU foreign affairs and served as a European Commission vice president since 2014, says she can’t hide her appreciation for the outgoing administration.

“We have worked incredibly well,” she says. “We have done a lot of good things together, and we believe very strongly — still — that the interests of the European people and of the Americans are very much the same. And so we see the need to continue to work together.”

It’s no accident that she names in particular the U.S.-EU partnership on climate change, which Trump has called a “hoax,” and the multinational agreement on Iran’s nuclear development, which Trump has vowed to reject. Mogherini herself was one of the negotiators for that hard-fought compromise.

Sticking to her “hope” theme, Mogherini wants EU governments to realize they need to fight less among themselves and forge a united front with which to negotiate this new terrain. “Maybe this is the right chance for us to realize the power we have,” she says, “the role we should play.”

At the same time, Mogherini emphasizes that she has made numerous proposals for improving the bloc’s security and defense capabilities, in particular, unrelated to the U.S. election.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders says he hopes the “shock” of the result will serve as the necessary injection of ambition, particularly given the perception that Trump plans to cozy up to Russia, which is currently under heavy EU sanctions for its annexation of Crimea. Reynders says that even under Obama the U.S. has discounted the EU as a negotiating partner in critical talks on issues like Syria.

He says that needs to change.

“I have seen in [the] last weeks that the discussions were just between Washington and Moscow,” he says. If the EU can present itself as a stronger entity, he says, “I’m hoping it will be possible for the European Union to be present at the table.”

Dutch lawmaker Marietje Schaake, the vice chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for U.S. relations, says that if Trump’s election — after Brexit — wasn’t enough of a wake-up call for the need for EU solidarity, she couldn’t imagine what would be. She thinks Brussels should do a little pushing in the other direction, too.

With all the alarm Trump has caused in Europe, Schaake says she was astounded how warmly EU leaders responded to him. Within hours of the announcement of results, for example, the president-elect had been invited by European Council President Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to visit Europe for a summit.

“Some of the statements really gave the impression the name Hillary Clinton was erased and the prepared statement was just sent out,” Schaake says. She says such messages appeared far too “business-as-usual” for her taste.

She says German Chancellor Angela Merkel had struck the right “courageous and very clear” tone in her “congratulatory” message, telling Trump that Germany was prepared to work with an administration that respects “democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of the individual, regardless of their origin, skin colour, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.”

Trump has now spoken personally with a handful of world leaders, including Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who at one point made a remark of Trump-like bluntness that some of the candidate’s comments had made him want to “retch.”

But there are signs the EU leaders may not be quite as conciliatory as it initially seemed. On Friday, Commission President Juncker told a group of students the U.S. generally doesn’t pay attention to Europe, so it will be necessary to “teach” the new president about “what Europe is and how it works.” Juncker added: “I think we will waste time for two years while Mr. Trump tours a world he is completely unaware of.”

For her part, Mogherini says she’s keeping up her picture of President Obama but is willing to give his successor the benefit of the doubt for now. “Sometimes what you do and what you say in an electoral campaign is different to what you do as a president,” she says. “We will have to see what happens on Jan. 21 in Washington.”

Asked whether she’ll feel awkward meeting Trump after his controversial remarks about women, she threw that in the same bin of bygones. “I’m Italian,” she jokes. “I’ve seen it all.”

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7 Reasons Donald Trump Won The Presidential Election

Donald Trump supporters cheer on Tuesday night at the New York Hilton Midtown. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The dust is starting to settle in Washington and around the country after an election that stunned political watchers and pollsters.

Here are seven things we’ve learned about Donald Trump’s path to victory Tuesday night:

1. Hillary Clinton now has a wider popular vote lead than Al Gore in 2000, but the Electoral College picks presidents.

As vote continues to be counted, Hillary Clinton has now surpassed Al Gore’s 2000 popular vote margin. Clinton’s popular-vote lead is 668,171 over President-elect Donald Trump, according to the latest totals compiled by the U.S. Election Atlas. Gore got 547,398 more votes than George W. Bush in 2000.

Clinton’s lead will only likely grow as votes continue to be finalized. Democrats have now won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, but lost the Electoral College in two of them. This takes place as Democrats continue to migrate to cities and the coasts where their population is more concentrated.

The constitution mandates the Electoral College picks presidents. The founders created that system in part to avoid the largest states picking “favorite sons” and having outsize influence.

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2. Overall turnout will be about the same as 2012.

Total turnout in 2012 vs. 2016.

Domenico Montanaro/NPR

It may even surpass it when all the vote is counted. These figures represent only about half of all eligible voters in the U.S.. But, as explained below, Clinton earned a lower share than Obama and more voters chose third party candidates.

3. A significant chunk of voters were dissatisfied with their choice of candidates.

The number of people electing not to vote for the Republican or Democratic nominee went up by 4.5 million votes, nearly tripling from 2012:

Votes for third party or candidates outside the major parties in 2012 vs. 2016. Domenico Montanaro/NPR hide caption

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Domenico Montanaro/NPR

It’s difficult to say who those voters would have gone to precisely. Libertarian Gary Johnson got more than 4 million votes (or 3 percent), up from 1.3 million in 2012. Green Party candidate Jill Stein got 1.3 million votes in this election, only about 1 percent overall.

But more young voters went third party this year:


2012: 3 percent

2016: 8 percent

4. Clinton did not fire up the Obama Coalition.

Clinton got nearly 5 million fewer votes overall than Obama:

Total votes for Barack Obama in 2012 vs. Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Domenico Montanaro/NPR

Trump, meanwhile, got roughly the same number of voters as Mitt Romney four years ago:

Total votes for Mitt Romney in 2012 vs. Donald Trump in 2016.

Domenico Montanaro/NPR


Young voters were the same share of the electorate (19 percent), but went in smaller margins for Clinton than Obama and they jumped in third-party support from 3 percent to 8 percent:

2012: 60-37 Obama, 3 percent third party

2016: 55-37 Clinton, 8 percent third party


By their sheer size, Latinos went up as a share of the electorate from 10 percent to 11 percent, but the idea that they would turn out for Clinton in bigger numbers than Obama because of Trump turned out just not be true overall — and a significant share, especially among Latinos, went third party:

2012: 71-27 Obama

2016: 65-29 Clinton; 6 percent third party

Latinos certainly had an impact in the Southwest, helping Clinton win Nevada and Colorado and even made Arizona and Texas closer than past years. Texas was within 10 points for the first time in 20 years, and Latinos were a quarter of the electorate (24 percent).

It might be becoming clear that about 3 in 10 Latinos are simply part of the conservative base.


Black voters were down as a share of the electorate slightly and went for Clinton in a smaller margin — more like 2004 numbers for John Kerry:

2012: 13% of electorate, 93-6 Obama

2016: 12% of electorate, 88-8 Clinton

In places like Wayne County, Mich., home to Detroit, and Milwaukee, Wis., Clinton was significantly off from Obama’s vote total in 2012. In fact, had she met Obama’s vote total, it would have made been more than enough to make up the statewide differences in both states:



Obama total votes 2012: 332,000

Clinton total votes 2016: 289,000 (-43,000)



Obama total votes 2012: 595,000

Clinton total votes 2016: 517,000 (-78,000)

A similar pattern wouldn’t have helped Clinton win Pennsylvania. She turned out about 25,000 fewer voters in Philadelphia than Obama, but that discrepancy would not have made up for the crumbling in rural areas and even some counties Obama won. Luzerne (Wilkes-Barre), for example, shifted huge to Trump – by 25 points. Erie shifted 18 points.

In North Carolina, despite Clinton doing better in the Research Triangle area than Obama, black voters, who traditionally turn out at high rates in North Carolina, dropped significantly:


2012: 23% of electorate, 96-4 for Obama

2016: 20% of electorate, 90-8 for Clinton

Could they have made up the difference? Quite possibly. Trump won the state by 177,000 votes out of about 4.7 million votes. If black voters were the same share of the electorate as 2012, and Clinton won 90 percent, she would have picked up some 126,000 votes. Now, if they voted in the 96-percent, same margin as they did for Obama and turned out at the same share of the electorate, Clinton would have picked up 191,000 votes.

Now almost no one expected, including the Clinton campaign, to get the same margins and share of the electorate with black voters as Obama, so these calculations probably aren’t fair. What’s more, Trump increased turnout among Republicans, so the black share would have to drop even if the same raw number turned out as 2016.

Sure, mathematically, no slippage with black voters, no third-party bleed among young voters in particular and juicing the Latino vote would have meant Clinton could have won despite a white, working-class cratering (more on that below). But that’s not realistic, considering the election didn’t take place in a vacuum. The declines are interrelated.


Post-graduates went by a slightly wider margin for Clinton than Obama:

2012: 18% of electorate, 55-42 Obama

2016: 18% of electorate, 58-37 Clinton

This furthers the distinct education gap in this election, especially among whites.

5. Whites without college degrees have fled to the GOP.

They were a group Democrats used to compete with. In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton won them by a point. But they have fled to the GOP in the years since –- and now the gap between whites with college degrees and without appears to be the widest ever. A whopping 35 points.

NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben charted it here.


2016: R+39

2012: R+26

2008: R+18

2004: R+23

2000: R+17

1996: D+1

1992: D+1

6. And that leads to what might be the biggest story of the election – Democrats’ cratering with blue-collar white voters.

Ohio and Iowa went by huge margins for Trump –- almost 10 points in Iowa and 9 in Ohio. Trump won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (by less than a point), leads in Michigan (by an even smaller margin), and lost by less than 2 points in Minnesota.

These are all states that went for Democrats in six straight presidential elections. They were crucial to the Democratic Blue Wall, and Trump took a sledgehammer to it.

We heard the voices of Obama-Trump white, working class voters in our stories online and on the air, but they never registered in big enough numbers — in public or private, non-partisan, Republican or Democratic polling before the election to show that a Trump win was apparent. Take a look at the vote shifts among the white, working class in some key states:


GOP gains among non-college educated voters in key states.

Domenico Montanaro/NPR


2012: 53% of electorate, 52-46 Obama

2016: 44% of electorate, 55-38 Trump (net gain: R+23)


2012: 58% of electorate, 51-47 Obama

2016: 55% of electorate, 56-40 Trump (net gain: R+20)


2012: 57% of electorate, 52-46 Obama

2016: 57% of electorate, 54-40 Trump (net gain: R+20)


2012: 54% of electorate, 56-43 Obama

2016: 58% of electorate, 49-45 Trump (net gain: R+17)


2012: 60% of electorate, 53-46 Obama

2016: 56% of electorate, 51-45 Trump (net gain: R+13)


2012: 52% of electorate, 57-42 Obama

2016: 52% of electorate, 52-45 Trump (net gain: R+12)

7. Clinton forgot how she campaigned in 2000.

Overall, the reason Trump won was because he flipped big margins with white, working class voters in the Midwest and Pennsylvania — something that was always a possibility.

Trump spoke to these voters — whether it was on policy with how he blew up the Republican message on trade and Clinton’s ties to the establishment and pro-globalist agenda; or his fueling white resentments and racial bias; and there was likely some degree of sexism that played a role. That’s something that’s difficult to measure, though there will likely be dissertations written about it.

But Clinton made her mistakes with this group – calling half of Trump supporters “deplorables” likely fired up these exact kinds of voters, for example.

The late-in-the-campaign letter from FBI Director James Comey about Clinton’s emails likely also played a role, reinforcing a narrative about h eras untrustworthy especially with voters who were prone to believe the worst about her.

In the end, though, Clinton allowed the caricature created of her to become cemented. It’s actually surprising considering how she campaigned for her 2000 Senate seat. Back then, she took on the caricatures of her as a carpet bagger who didn’t deserve it by meeting and talking with voters in upstate New York. Some questioned that strategy given New York City and the suburbs have such big populations and generally determine the outcome of statewide races. (Sound familiar?)

Clinton, though, worked hard and won many of them over – and easily won the Senate seat.

She never did that this time. It was something she promised she would do at the outset of this campaign, but it was never attempted during the general election when she was against Trump. Instead, she was largely absent from the campaign trail for most of August, staying out of the news as Trump was steeped in controversy. That turned out to be as mistake.

She never created an affirmative message about her candidacy. “Stronger Together” was reactive to Trump. And she took for granted what used to be a critical piece of the Democratic coalition. It’s ironic that instead of courting these voters to solidify the Blue Wall, she spent a lot of time courting Republicans. But the Republicans who would be open to her message – would be metropolitan globalists, the very type of message that would turn off populist, blue-collar Democrats.

A rural Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin tour might not have reversed this 36-year trend away from Democrats, but given how extraordinarily close all three states turned out to be, Clinton likely would have reduced the margins enough to win.

Of course, that’s not what happened.

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Sharbat Gula, Subject Of Iconic 'National Geographic' Photo, Will Travel To India

Afghan refugee Sharbat Gula (center) will get free medical care in India. She seen here arriving with her son at the Presidential Palace in Kabul before meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Wednesday. Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Days after she was deported from Pakistan to her native Afghanistan, the woman whose piercing green-eyed stare landed a spot on the cover of National Geographic will next travel to India for medical care.

That’s the news from Shaida Abdali, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, who said via Twitter that Sharbat Gula “will soon be in India for medical treatment free of cost.”

Gula, who’s in her 40s, suffers from hepatitis C, according to her lawyer and multiple news outlets. She’s now poised to travel to Bangalore to receive treatment, according to Afghan news agency Khaama Press.

After fleeing Afghanistan as a young child, Gula spent decades in Pakistan before being arrested and charged with having falsified identity papers. When she arrived in Afghanistan Wednesday, she and her family were greeted by President Ashraf Ghani.

As Rebecca Hersher reported for the Two-Way earlier this week, “Under a plan announced in Brussels in October, potentially tens of thousands of Afghans will be sent to Afghanistan from the European Union — so many people that the agreement notes both sides are considering whether to build a dedicated terminal for them all at Kabul International Airport.”

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ISIS Is Gone, But Iraqi Christians Are Wary Of Returning Home

Khalid Yaako Touma, a school teacher and deacon in the village of Karamlesh, collects religious books from one of the churches in the village that ISIS destroyed. Alice Fordham/NPR hide caption

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Alice Fordham/NPR

The Karamlesh village meeting begins the traditional way, with Christian prayers led by a priest, murmured and sung, lingering in the evening air.

But the meeting’s not in the actual village of Karamlesh. It’s 40 miles away in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, on red plastic chairs under a dust-yellow sky, next to the corrugated trailers some of these people have been living in since 2014 when the Islamic State took their village.

Karamlesh is one of a cluster of Christian villages nestled in the Nineveh plain, in northern Iraq near Mosul. Some of the oldest churches and monasteries in the world are there.

A little over two years ago, ISIS poured into those villages and the people fled. Now, as Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition press an offensive against ISIS in Mosul, ISIS fighters have been pushed from the villages.

So, the people of Karamlesh gathered to discuss what to do now. At the front of the meeting stood a stark metal cross with a white ribbon on it and a black one.

With a flourish, the priest, Boulos Thabet Habib, removed the black ribbon, celebrating the liberation. Applause broke out, and smiles.

Then, Habib began to speak. He sketched out a bright future for the village, outlining plans for repairing the houses damaged by fighting, filling in ISIS tunnels.

But people seemed torn. After the meeting, Maha al Kahwaji, a woman with bright red hair, became animated as she spoke about Karamlesh

Karamlesh was held by ISIS for more than two years. The militants dug tunnels and filled shops and houses with explosives. Alice Fordham/NPR hide caption

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Alice Fordham/NPR

“I adore my village. I adore it,” she said. As ISIS approached, she insisted on staying in the church, and refused to leave initially.

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Eventually she was forced to flee, and has been living in Erbil more than two years, longing for home.

“But to return is difficult,” she said. “It’s not just difficult, with the tunnels, the burning of homes and the destruction, it’s impossible.”

The priest may say lovely things; he dreams and we all dream too, she explained. But she is unconvinced the plan is anything more than a dream. She wants to go back, but every week a family from Karamlesh leaves Iraq, seeking asylum elsewhere, she said.

Her dilemma is shared by tens of thousands of people – Christians and other minorities – targeted and displaced by ISIS.

They are happy the group’s brutal stranglehold is over, but are put off going home by the destruction of their homes, a mistrust of Iraq’s security forces and a fear that the Sunni Muslims in their area collaborated with ISIS.

One businessman from Karamlesh, Taher Bahoo, is determined to return the village to life.

We went there together, turning off the road to Mosul a few miles before the front line, explaining to the Iraqi army soldiers at the checkpoints that we were with a resident of the village.

The difference from the village I saw on an earlier visit, in 2014, before ISIS wrought their havoc, was striking. In front of the first church, at the entrance to the town, were singed patches of earth where a flower garden used to be. A soldier’s uniform was drying on an improvised washing line. Another was being laundered in the baptismal font.

Khalid Yaako Touma rescues items that belonged to his parents from their ruined home. Both his parents are dead, the items are all he has left of them. Alice Fordham/NPR hide caption

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Alice Fordham/NPR

Bahoo led the way into the church building, pointing out numerous tunnels ISIS had built – well over six feet high. Some of them are so long no one is quite sure where they end up. One slopes uphill and comes out at a viewpoint used by a sniper.

Bahoo looked out from the viewpoint over the village at charred wrecks of houses and cars, streets full of shrapnel. The only people visible are the security forces.

“When I was just 5, 6, 7 years age, we were playing here,” he said. “It was peaceful. It’s difficult – very difficult – to imagine what happened here.”

Going further into the village, Bahoo and I walked past little stores full of remnants of explosives, ancient graveyards and monasteries that are damaged or destroyed.

“Looks like, I don’t know – another place,” he said quietly.

This destruction is the first obstacle for those trying to persuade Christians to come back. But the only other civilian we met, teacher Khalid Yaako Touma, salvaging family photos from his ruined house, said other factors were also important.

“This is all the fault of the government,” he said. On the day ISIS came to Karamlesh, the Iraqi army and the ethnic Kurdish Iraqi forces known as peshmerga both melted away, he said.

A lot of villagers also say that they’re frightened of Muslims who live in the area. They believe, although it’s not at all accurate, that those Muslims all joined ISIS

Taher Baho stands in a damaged graveyard in his home village of Karamlesh. Alice Fordham/NPR hide caption

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Alice Fordham/NPR

In another mainly Christian village close by, Qaraqosh, a retired army general, Behnam Abbush, said he believed he has an answer to this fear.

“They must put the security in the hand of the people of this land – that’s what I want,” said the white-haired man. He leads a Christian militia called the Nineveh Protection Units, currently working alongside the Iraqi army but pushing to be the holding force here.

He thinks Christians will come back to these villages if they know their own people are keeping them safe. His group claims to have thousands of men ready for the task.

As he spoke, an elderly shepherd with about a dozen sheep walked down the abandoned street

“Who is he? Where’s he from?” the general shouted to his men.

They stopped the shepherd for questions and Behnam said Muslims shouldn’t even walk through the streets here for the moment.

“Because this is Christian village, 95 percent this is Christian,” he said.

In Karamlesh, the businessman, Bahoo took a detour into his family house.

“All my life I was here,” he murmured as we rounded the corner. The orange and olive trees in the garden are overgrown, and the house is ransacked. But it is salvageable. He doesn’t want his parents to see it yet.

Businessman Taher Baho lingers over family photo albums he salvaged from his home, which was ransacked by ISIS. Alice Fordham/NPR hide caption

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Alice Fordham/NPR

“It’s better to keep them far away until we just clean everything and repair everything,” he said.

He went inside to dig out the family photo albums from the mess ISIS left behind, leafed through pictures of his father in military uniform in the 1960s, family holidays, first holy communion.

One album, meant for wedding pictures, has a little music box built in. It played the wedding march, tinkly and sweet, as Bahooo sat on the sidewalk, deep in the memories, oblivious for a moment to the scorched devastation of the deserted little village.

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