Does anyone remember when the seemingly ever-present 2016 US presidential campaign actually began? Well, nearly two years ago.
The following is a sample of the major stages, developments and surprises of a race like no other as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battle for the White House.
Another Bush-Clinton matchup: political commentators and junkies drool with glee as Jeb Bush, son and brother of former presidents, jumps into the race for the White House.
The New York Times scores a big scoop with news that Clinton used a private email server while working as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Her team is caught off guard.
“We brought up the existence of emails in research this summer but were told that everything was taken care of,” Clinton’s future campaign manager Robby Mook wrote in a recently hacked email.
“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material,” Clinton said at a tense news conference.
Clinton formally announces her candidacy. At the time, Trump was not even included in polls of hopefuls who might take on the Democrat seeing to become America’s first female president.
A bevy of Republicans start coming forward to join the race, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson. The number would eventually swell to 17.
In a grandiose appearance at Trump Tower, Trump shows he is not bluffing and announces his candidacy. And he makes a comment that is now etched in the political annals.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
On July 14, a poll puts Trump in first place looking ahead to the primaries. His populist wave is now a force to be reckoned with.
“He’ll be a Ronald Reagan plus plus,” Alice Butler-Short, a 72-year-old Trump supporter, told a raucous rally in October.
Trump calls for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Condemnation of his idea pours in from around the world, but most Republicans welcome it.
Trump shows he is no pushover. He finishes second in the Iowa caucuses, and first in New Hampshire, South Carolina and other states.
Bush drops out of the race after a poor showing. His bid for the nomination cost $152 million.
Trump’s last surviving rivals, Cruz and John Kasich, throw in the towel and Trump emerges victorious.
His next target is Clinton. He points to the controversy over her email practices and says she should not even have the right to run for president.
“Never Trump” Republicans try to mount a resistance movement, as the billionaire real estate mogul pledges to unify the party.
Clinton manages to clinch enough primary delegates for the Democratic nomination, defeating Bernie Sanders.
At a New York rally buzzing with enthusiasm, she trumpets that it is “the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee for president of the United States.”
Democrats heave a sigh of relief as the FBI recommends that no charges be filed against Clinton over her private email server. But FBI Director James Comey dismisses Clinton’s handling of her email as “extremely careless.”
Trump accepts the Republican nomination at a convention in Cleveland that is marred by missteps, while the Democratic convention in Philadelphia chooses Clinton as the first women presidential nominee of a major party.
Trump has a very bad month: he again reshuffles his campaign staff, and is excoriated for criticizing the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq.
Under a hot sun, Clinton falls ill at a ceremony honoring the victims of the 9/11 attacks. She stumbles while trying to get into a limousine and is forced to announce that she is suffering from pneumonia.
The first presidential debate draws 84 million TV viewers. Trump loses his temper with Clinton, who comes across as well prepared and collected. She boosts her lead in the polls.
“And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
That’s Trump talking in a just-rediscovered audio from 2005 about what he sees as the perks of fame. Americans are outraged. Dozens of Republicans declare themselves fed up with Trump and withdraw their support.
In a gift to Trump, the FBI director announces a probe into previously undisclosed emails that he says might be pertinent to the probe into Clinton’s server.
“This is the biggest political scandal since Watergate,” Trump said as he latched on to what would be the main theme for the closing stage of his campaign.