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Trump soaks up Washington pageantry on inauguration eve

Donald Trump swept into Washington Thursday embracing soaring patriotism and pledging unity on the eve of the most consequential moment of the billionaire Republican's life -- his inauguration as 45th president of the United States.

His arrival caps an extraordinary and improbable run for the White House that, once he takes the reins from President Barack Obama at noon Friday, will launch the nation into new and uncharted waters.

The 70-year-old leader-in-waiting traveled from New York aboard an official government jet to a military base near the capital with his wife Melania.

US President-elect Donald Trump and wife Melania arrive for a welcome celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2017. 
 

He then spent the afternoon in Washington attending pre-inaugural festivities that have become traditions for presidents-elect.

"We're going to unify our country," Trump told a cheering crowd of thousands in front of the Lincoln Memorial after a pre-inauguration concert that ended in a burst of fireworks.

"We're going to do things that haven't been done for our country for many, many decades," he added. "It's going to change. I promise you."

Earlier in the day, Trump lunched with Republican congressional leaders, his cabinet nominees and White House staff, and he was whisked to Arlington National Cemetery, where he and Vice President-elect Mike Pence laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

He then crossed back over the Potomac River to speak at the marble memorial, where at one point he looked up and saluted the seated statue of Abraham Lincoln.

"There's never been a movement like this," he said, describing the wave of support among working-class Americans who pushed Trump to victory over Hillary Clinton after feeling left behind by establishment politicians.

"Well, you're not forgotten anymore," he said. "We're going to get it turned around. We're going to bring our jobs back."

Trump's swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol -- scheduled to be administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at 11:47 am (1647 GMT) -- will be carried live Friday on screens around the globe. Rain is forecast.

Three former presidents will be in attendance along with numerous dignitaries, including his Democratic presidential rival -- a former first lady and secretary of state.

- 'American Revolution' -

While protesters have vowed to be out in force Friday, Trump supporters were gathering by the thousands to trumpet the success of their man.

"It honestly feels like we won the American Revolution again," gushed Jake, a Trump supporter from California who did not give his last name.

"I really feel like we've taken back our culture, we've taken back our country, because we've really been under attack from a lot of the establishment on both sides of the aisle." 

Trump's working-class supporters have sent him to Washington to turn the page on the Obama era and upend the political status quo.

Topics: US , politics , inauguration
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