By Zachary Stieber
President Donald Trump on Jan. 20 left Washington for Florida, hours before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.
“It’s been a great honor. The honor of a lifetime. The greatest people in the world, the greatest home in the world. We’ve had an amazing four years. We’ve accomplished a lot. We love the American people, and, again, it’s been something very special,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.
“I just want to say goodbye, but hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye. We’ll see each other again.”
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump exited the White House at approximately 8 a.m. They were headed to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
During a stop at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where Trump transferred from Marine One to Air Force One, the president told a crowd of supporters: “We love you. We will be back in some form.”
“I will always fight for you. I will always be watching. I will be listening,” he added.
Trump had announced previously that he would skip Biden’s inauguration. He did not give a reason why.
Trump will be the first sitting president since Andrew Johnson to skip all inaugural ceremonies of his successor, according to the White House Historical Association. President Woodrow Wilson skipped the public ceremony for his successor but did accompany the successor, Warren Harding, to the Capitol.
Biden’s pared-down inauguration will feature few guests. Organizers say the small event is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump said in Washington and in Maryland that that serving as president was the “honor of a lifetime.”
He reeled off what he sees as his administration’s signature achievements, including creating the Space Force, a new branch of the U.S. military, bringing unemployment to lows not seen in decades prior to the pandemic, and pouring money into the military. He also noted several COVID-19 vaccines were developed in under a year, thanks to support and funding from his administration.
Trump thanked supporters, his family, friends, and staff. In Maryland, he told the crowd: “People have no idea how hard this family worked, and they worked for you. They could have had a much easier life.”
“Have a good life. We will see you soon,” he said, walking off the stage.
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