Concession of the Vice President, and
The Rightful President-Elect, Al Gore
Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States, and I promised him that I wouldn't call him back this time.
I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we just passed.
Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, "Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you, Mr. President, and God bless you."
Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country.
Neither he nor I anticipated this long and difficult road. Certainly neither of us wanted it to happen. Yet it came, and now it has ended, resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy.
Over the library of one of our great law schools is inscribed the motto, "Not under man but under God and law." That's the ruling principle of American freedom, the source of our democratic liberties. I've tried to make it my guide throughout this contest as it has guided America's deliberations of all the complex issues of the past five weeks.
Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.
I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new president elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends.
Let me say how grateful I am to all those who supported me and supported the cause for which we have fought. Tipper and I feel a deep gratitude to Joe and Hadassah Lieberman who brought passion and high purpose to our partnership and opened new doors, not just for our campaign but for our country.
This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God's unforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny.
Indeed, that history gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated, as fiercely fought, with their own challenges to the popular will.
Other disputes have dragged on for weeks before reaching resolution. And each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation.
So let it be with us.
I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country.
And I say to our fellow members of the world community, let no one see this contest as a sign of American weakness. The strength of American democracy is shown most clearly through the difficulties it can overcome.
Some have expressed concern that the unusual nature of this election might hamper the next president in the conduct of his office. I do not believe it need be so.
President-elect Bush inherits a nation whose citizens will be ready to assist him in the conduct of his large responsibilities.
I personally will be at his disposal, and I call on all Americans -- I particularly urge all who stood with us to unite behind our next president. This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done.
And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us.
While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president.
As for what I'll do next, I don't know the answer to that one yet. Like many of you, I'm looking forward to spending the holidays with family and old friends. I know I'll spend time in Tennessee and mend some fences, literally and figuratively.
Some have asked whether I have any regrets and I do have one regret: that I didn't get the chance to stay and fight for the American people over the next four years, especially for those who need burdens lifted and barriers removed, especially for those who feel their voices have not been heard. I heard you and I will not forget.
I've seen America in this campaign and I like what I see. It's worth fighting for and that's a fight I'll never stop.
As for the battle that ends tonight, I do believe as my father once said, that no matter how hard the loss, defeat might serve as well as victory to shape the soul and let the glory out.
So for me this campaign ends as it began: with the love of Tipper and our family; with faith in God and in the country I have been so proud to serve, from Vietnam to the vice presidency; and with gratitude to our truly tireless campaign staff and volunteers, including all those who worked so hard in Florida for the last 36 days.
Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending struggle for the common good of all Americans and for those multitudes around the world who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom.
In the words of our great hymn, "America, America": "Let us crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea."
And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it's time for me to go.
Thank you and good night, and God bless America.
President Bill Clinton’s Remarks
On the 2000 Election Concession of Al Gore
December 14, 2000
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Last night, President-elect Bush and Vice President Gore showed what is best about America. In this election, the American people were closely divided. The outcome was decided by a Supreme Court that was closely divided.
But the essential unity of our nation was reflected in the words and values of those who fought this great contest. I was proud of both men.
I pledged to President-elect Bush my efforts and the best efforts of every member of our administration for a smooth and successful transition.
I want to say I am profoundly grateful to Vice President Gore for eight extraordinary years of partnership. Without his leadership, we could not have made the progress or reached the prosperity we now enjoy and pass on to the next administration.
I am also profoundly grateful to him for putting into words last night the feelings of all of us who disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision, but accepted it. And, as he said, all of us have a responsibility to support President-elect Bush, and to unite our country in the search for common ground.
I wish President-elect Bush well. Like him, I came to Washington as a governor, eager to work with both Republicans and Democrats. And when we reached across party lines to forge a vital center, America was stronger at home and abroad.
The American people, however divided they were in this election, overwhelmingly want us to build on that vital center, without rancor or personal attack.
I thank the members of Congress from both parties who have pledged to work with the President-elect. They have also pledged to elect common-sense bipartisan election reforms so that the votes of all citizens can be easily cast and easily counted in future elections.
Finally, I want to thank the American people for their patience, passion and patriotism throughout this extended election season. In the days of service left to me, I will do all I can to finish our remaining work with Congress and to help President-elect Bush get off to a good start.
As I've said so many times over the last year, our country has never before enjoyed so much peace and prosperity with so few internal crises and so little external threat. We have the opportunity to build the future of our dreams for our children, and every one of us has an obligation to work together to achieve it.
Thank you very much.
Q Mr. President, what do say to Democrats who want to run on the election issue in two years? Do you think that's a way to take back the House?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, first of all, the election two years from now is difficult to predict and it will take whatever shape it does. But for right now, we're in a period where we've had an election, but we haven't had the inauguration. We had to ensure a smooth and constructive transition, and all of us should ensure that we do our part to give the President-elect his chance to do this job. And I would hope -- and I believe that my fellow Democrats would be willing to do that, and I hope they will, I hope they will set a good example by getting off to a good start and trying to unite the country.
Two years from now, what I hope will happen is that the honest differences that remain between the two parties will be the subject of a wholesome, vigorous, constructive debate, but that we will be moving further and further away from rancor. That, I think, is actually good for our party, because I think people do agree with us on the issues -- on so many of the vital issues of the day.
But I don't think that now is the time to do anything other than follow Vice President Gore's lead. He spoke for all of us last night, and he did it eloquently and well. And President-elect Bush responded with generosity in kind, I thought, in his remarks. And I think we ought to use this opportunity to let the country come together and try to get the new administration off to a good start.
Q Mr. President, will your successor continue the special relationship you've enjoyed with Britain, do you hope?
THE PRESIDENT: I can't imagine anybody who wouldn't do that. I think he will, yes. Thank you.