Trump and Clinton must compromise, says new Miss America
Published 12/09/2016 | 07:01
The winner of the Miss America beauty pageant has issued some advice to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: compromise.
Savvy Shields had been Miss America for less than an hour, but she already had a clear vision of what she hoped America would look like at the end of her term next year.
"I hope that at the end of my year, we're starting to reward politicians for compromise," she said.
Shields, who represented Arkansas in the pageant, won the crown in a glittering ceremony in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She was asked during her on-stage interview what she thought of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and answered that while both Ms Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have done a good job so far, "they also need to watch what they're doing".
Meeting reporters after the pageant, Shields elaborated: "What I want both candidates to focus on is compromise. Our country was founded on compromise. We're in a state now where both parties just seem to be yelling at one another."
Shields will later take the traditional winner's romp in the surf on the beach at Atlantic City across from Boardwalk Hall, where she won the crown. It is a ritual in which the newly crowned Miss America skips along the beach as shallow waves roll in, jumps in the air, and poses for the first of the thousands of photos in which she will star over the next year.
She topped a field of 52 contestants to win the crown and the title of Miss America 2017, succeeding the incumbent Betty Cantrell.
She was asked one of several political questions by the panel of celebrity judges.
"If you're trying to be leader of the free world, everything you say and do matters and all of your actions are held to a higher standard," Shields said. "Both of the contestants have done a good job, but they also need to watch what they're doing."
Shields performed a jazz dance to a song from the TV show Smash, for which she won a preliminary competition earlier in the week. She said she still has the soundtrack from the cancelled TV show in her car, where she plays it often.
Shields is an art major at the University of Arkansas who wants to help people make better food choices. Her dream is to be a backup dancer for Beyonce.
The first openly gay contestant in the Miss America pageant, Miss Missouri Erin O'Flaherty, was eliminated on Sunday night when the 15 finalists were chosen.
She was the first openly gay contestant to win a state title. Djuan Trent competed in the Miss America pageant as Miss Kentucky in 2011, when she finished in the top 10. She came out as a lesbian in 2014.
Sunday's finale was held on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Many of the contestants noted the solemn anniversary, professed strong support for America's armed forces and struck patriotic themes.
The pageant at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall included contestants from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The pageant began in Atlantic City in 1921 as a way to extend the summer tourist season beyond Labour Day weekend.