WASHINGTON, D.C. — One-term President Donald Trump, after four divisive and tumultuous years in office, delivered a self-congratulatory farewell speech Wednesday after departing the White House for a final time.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump stopped for photos and waved at the assembled media before the couple walked alone across the White House lawn. In a nod to future plans, the Republican president told reporters, “I just want to say goodbye but hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye. We’ll see each other again.”
He leaves two weeks after the U.S. Capitol rioting by his supporters, who descended on the building after an incendiary speech by the president.
The couple exited the White House at 8:13 a.m, climbing aboard the Marine One chopper for a final ride on Air Force One, the last official act of his presidency. They landed 14 minutes later for a departure that felt like a campaign rally, replete with a 21-gun salute, a red carpet and the playing of “Hail to the Chief.”
With several American flags blowing in the wind as his backdrop, Trump praised his administration’s efforts while laying blame for America’s 400,000 pandemic deaths on “the China virus” and hinting at a return despite his convincing November defeat by incoming President Joe Biden.
“This has been an incredible four years,” he said to cheers as his sons Donald Jr. and Eric stood with their sister Ivanka. “We’ve accomplished so much … It’s been something very special.”
His departure from Washington came a little less than four hours before his successor is sworn in as the nation’s 46th president. The outgoing commander-in-chief did not attend, making him the first president in 152 years to snub the incoming president.
The soon-to-be ex-president did not mention Biden by name, and referenced the millions of votes cast for him in November while ignoring the fact that Biden received millions more.
“I wish the new administration great luck and great success,” said Trump, speaking off the cuff. “Goodbye, we love you, we will be back in some form.” Just before leaving the dais, he told his supporters and staffers, “Have a good life, we’ll see you soon”
Trump and his wife then left for an Air Force One flight to Florida as the Village People’s “YMCA” played incongruously in the background.
As the plane took off, Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way” played as a backdrop.