WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Donald Trump departed the White House for the final time as president early Wednesday, just hours before President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office.
Trump emerged from the building Wednesday morning and strode across the South Lawn to board Marine One. He said, “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime.”
He was sent off with a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland before traveling to Florida, where he’ll begin his post-presidency at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. The farewell event included a red carpet, a military band and a 21-gun salute.
Trump spoke to a crowd that included his family, former staff and supporters, promising “We will be back in some form.” He didn’t detail any further specifics of his plans.
“I will always fight for you,” Trump said Wednesday morning. “I will be watching. I will be listening, and I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they’ll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular.”
First lady Melania Trump also gave brief remarks at the farewell event, calling her role the “greatest honor.”
“Being your first lady was my greatest honor. Thank you for your love and your support. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you all. God bless your families and God bless this beautiful nation,” she said.
Trump’s No. 2, Vice President Mike Pence, is staying in the nation’s capital for the presidential transition.
Trump’s departure means he will not take part in the tradition of the outgoing and incoming presidents traveling together from the White House to the Capitol for the inauguration ceremony. He’s the first incumbent president to skip his successor’s swearing-in since Andrew Johnson.