Britain’s stunning vote to leave the European Union sent shockwaves across the American political landscape Friday, with Donald Trump cheering the decision to “take their country back” and linking the campaign to his own populist bid – as U.S. officials tried to offer assurances the U.S.-U.K. alliance will endure the global turmoil wrought by the vote.
"The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision," President Obama, who had fought for Britain to stay in the union, said in a written statement. "... The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship."
Trump, meanwhile, happened to be in Scotland touring his golf resorts as the verdict came in. As Hillary Clinton claimed the vote underscores the need for tested leadership, Trump said it just goes to show how "angry" voters on both sides of the Atlantic are with the status quo.
Trump even put the result at Obama’s feet and criticized him for meddling: “He shouldn't have done it, and I actually think that his recommendation perhaps caused it to fail.”
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a lengthy press conference touting what he described as the “big parallel” between the sentiments driving Britain’s “Leave” campaign and those driving his own presidential bid.
“I think you’re going to have this more and more … and I think it’s happening in the United States,” Trump said.
He pointed foremost to anger over high immigration levels. "They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over, nobody even knows who they are," Trump said.
In a written statement, Trump underscored the parallels further, saying U.K. residents “declared their independence” from the E.U., and: “Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first.”
Presumptive Democratic nominee Clinton, hours later, put out a statement echoing Obama and others in saying the U.S. respects the choice of U.K. voters.
As the Dow began to tumble, she said, "Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America."
Clinton also suggested the vote should strengthen her appeal in the U.S., saying the uncertainty "only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans' pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests."
Trump had backed the push to leave the E.U., but Obama and others in Washington openly joined British Prime Minister David Cameron – who now plans to resign – in opposing it.
Their voices were snubbed at the polls Thursday, despite warnings about what leaving the European Union might mean for trade, the financial markets and other areas.
The markets indeed were heaving Friday in the wake of the vote. Vice President Biden, in Ireland, acknowledged the administration had looked for “a different outcome,” but stressed that the U.S. has a “longstanding friendship with the U.K.” and will respect the vote. He said that bond “runs deep and will endure.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan had a similar message.
“I respect the decision made by the people of the United Kingdom. The U.K. is an indispensable ally of the United States, and that special relationship is unaffected by this vote,” he said in a statement.
Still, the outcome in Britain potentially sets up a domino effect of similar votes across Europe – testing the cohesion of the Western alliance – while throwing into question Britain’s future trade relationship not only with E.U. countries but the United States.
Obama, in urging against Britain leaving the union, warned in April that Britain would be at the “back of the queue” in terms of striking a trade deal with the U.S. if it leaves.
Trump said Friday he was surprised by that comment and vowed if he’s president, “They’ll always be at the front of the line.”
But Trump did agree that other countries would look to break off from the European Union.
“It looks like it’s on its way,” Trump said.
Trump's reason for his trip to Europe wasn't politics, but rather to check on a pair of championship-level golf resorts he owns in Scotland. Trump, who unlike previous presidential candidates did not schedule any political meetings while abroad, spent Friday morning marking the $200 million-plus rehabilitation of the famed Turnberry golf resort nestled on the rocky coast facing the North Atlantic Ocean.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.