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Sen. John Kerry Concedes Election

Aired November 3, 2004 - 13:57   ET


Well, it was a long night and a long morning, and even though the outcome won't change, I want you to know that we will continue to fight for every vote.


Because every vote matters in our America and we will honor each one of you who stood with us and who stood in line to change your country.

We believe in you. We didn't stop fighting for you when this campaign began and we won't stop fighting for you when this campaign ends.


Your cause will always be our cause. And nothing makes John and me prouder than standing with all of you.

In this hour, I'm held up by the love of my life, Elizabeth, and by our beautiful children.


And I draw great strength by standing with the man I fought alongside with the last four months, his beautiful wife Teresa and his wonderful daughters and sons.


John Kerry is a great American.


To be a part of the most important election of our lifetime and to fight for so many things of value and consequence, it was nothing short of an honor to work with such a kind, caring and remarkable man.

You cannot fight 18 hours a day, seven days a week unless you love America.

And John loves this country.

(APPLAUSE) In this campaign, we worked hard and we hoped that the results would be different. And I want to talk to the tens of millions of people who worked alongside us, who believed in our cause and who stood with us.

You can be disappointed, but you cannot walk away. This fight has just begun.


Together we will carry on and we will be with you every step of the way.

You stood in line for 10 hours because you want your government to stand up for you. You stood in the rain to vote because you want to build one America. You missed classes, field hockey, soccer practices.

You stood for hours and hours to let your voices be heard. Well, we heard you. And I want you to hear me.

This campaign may end today. But the battle for you and the hark-working Americans who built this country rages on.

The battle rages for the factory worker and the mill worker who says, "I want to work. I just want a job."

The battle rages on for the mother who sits in the emergency room with her daughter and wonders how she is going to pay the bill.

The battle rages on for the young person who's worked hard and wants to go to collect but doesn't have the money to pay for it.

It goes on for the young child who doesn't understand why they are treated differently just because of the color of their skin.

And it rages on for the mother who wants to know why her son was sent over there and will not come home.

This fight will continue in our homes and in our union halls, in our churches, and in our schools, in our offices and over the Internet.

We will keep marching toward that one America and we're not going to stop until we get there.


You know, I've learned a lot of lessons in my life. Two of the most important are first, there will always be heartache and struggle. You can't make it go away. But the other is that people of good and strong will can make a difference. And we can make a difference. Rest assured, we will make a difference.

One lesson is a sad lesson, but the other lesson is inspiring. And we are Americans, and so we choose to be inspired. We choose to be inspired because we know we can do better, because this is America, where everything is still possible.

And at the end of our heartache today resides an eternal hope for the country we're going to fight for and the country we're going to build together.

Ladies and gentlemen, the man who never surrendered his hopes and dreams for the country he loves so much, Senator John Kerry.


SEN. JOHN F. KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you. I love you. I love you, thank you. Thank you, thank you so much.

Thank you so much. You just have no idea how warming and how generous that welcome is, your love is, your affection. And I'm gratified by it.

I'm sorry that we got here a little bit late and little bit short.

I spoke to President Bush and I offered him and Laura our congratulations on their victory.

We had a good conversation, and we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need -- the desperate need for unity, for finding the common ground, coming together.

Today I hope that we can begin the healing.


In America, it is vital that every vote count, and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal process. I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail.

But is now clear that even when all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won't be enough outstanding votes for us to be able to win Ohio.

And therefore we cannot win this election.

My friends, it was here that we began our campaign for the presidency and all we had was hope and vision for a better America. It was a privilege and a gift to spend two years traveling this country, coming to know so many of you.

I wish that I could just wrap you up in my arms and embrace each and every one of you individually all across this nation. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Thank you.


Thank you.



AUDIENCE MEMBER: We still got your back.

KERRY: Thank you, man.


And I'm...


And I assure you, you watch, I'll still love yours. So, hang in there.


I will always be particularly grateful to the colleague that you just heard from who became my partner, my very close friend, an extraordinary leader, John Edwards.


And I thank him for everything he did.

Thank you, sir.


John and I would be the first to tell you that we owe so much to our families. They're here with us today. They were with us every single step of the way. They sustained us.

They went out on their own and they multiplied our campaign all across this country.

No one did this more with grace and with courage and candor, that I love, than my wife Teresa, and I thank her.


And our children were there every single step of the way. It was unbelievable. Vanessa, Alex, Chris, Andre and John from my family, and Elizabeth Edwards, who is so remarkable and so strong and so smart.


And Johnny and Kate, who went out there on their own, just like my daughters did. And also Emma Claire and Jack, who were up beyond their bedtime last night, like a lot of us.


I want to thank my crewmates and my friends from 35 years ago, that great band of brothers who criss-crossed this country on my behalf for 2004.


They had the courage to speak the truth back then and they spoke it again this year. And for that, I will forever be grateful.

And thanks also, as I look around here, to friends and family of a lifetime, some from college, friends made all across the years, and then all across the miles of this campaign.

You are so special. You brought the gift of your passion for our country and the possibilities of change. And that will stay with us and with this country forever.

Thanks to Democrats and Republicans and independents who stood with us, and everyone who voted, no matter who their candidate was.

And thanks to my absolutely unbelievable, dedicated staff lead by a wonderful campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, who did an extraordinary job.


There's so much written about campaigns and there's so much that Americans never get to see.

I wish they could all spend a day on a campaign and see how hard these folks work to make America better. It is its own unbelievable contribution to our democracy and it's a gift to everybody, but especially to me, and I'm grateful to each and every one of you.

And I thank your families and I thank you for the sacrifices you've made. And to all the volunteers all across this country who gave so much of themselves. You know, thanks to William Field (ph), a 6-year-old who collected $680 a quarter and a dollar at a time, selling bracelets during the summer to help change America.


Thanks to Michael Benson (ph) from Florida, who I spied in a rope line holding a container of money and it turned out he had raided his piggy bank and wanted to contribute.

And thanks to Ilana Wexler, 11 years old, who started Kids for Kerry all across our country.


I think of the brigades of students and people, young and old, who took time to travel, time off from work, their own vacation time, to work in states far and wide. They braved the hot days of summer and the cold days of the fall and the winter to knock on door because they were determined to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans.

They worked their hearts out. And I wish, you don't know how much, that I could have brought this race home for you, for them.

And I say to them now: Don't lose faith. What you did made a difference.

And building on itself, we go on to make a difference another day.

I promise you, that time will come, the time will come, the election will come, when your work and your ballots will change the world. And it's worth fighting for.

I want to especially say to the American people: In this journey, you have given me the honor and the gift of listening and learning from you.

I have visited your homes, I visited your churches, I visited your community halls, I've heard your stories.

I know your struggles, I know your hopes. They are part of me now.

And I will never forget you and I'll never stop fighting for you.


You may not understand completely in what ways, but it is true when I say to you that you have taught me and you have tested me and you've lifted me up and you've made me stronger.

I did my best to express my vision and my hopes for America. We worked hard and we fought hard, and I wish that things had turned out a little differently.

But in an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans.


That is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on Earth.

With that gift also comes obligation. We are required now to work together for the good of our country.

In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort, without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion.

I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years.

I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide.

I know this is a difficult time for my supporters, but I ask them, all of you, to join me in doing that. Now, more than ever, with our soldiers in harm's way, we must stand together and succeed in Iraq and win the war on terror.

I will also do everything in my power to ensure that my party, a proud Democratic Party, stands true to our best hopes and ideals.

I believe that what we started in this campaign will not end here.


Our fight goes on to put America back to work and to make our economy a great engine of job growth.

Our fight goes on to make affordable health care an accessible right for all Americans, not privilege.

Our fight goes on to protect the environment, to achieve equality, to push the frontiers of science and discovery and to restore America's reputation in the world.

I believe that all of this will happen, and sooner than we may think, because we're America, and America always moves forward.


I've been honored to represent the citizens of this commonwealth in the United States Senate now for 20 years. And I pledge to them that in the years ahead, I'm going to fight on for the people and for the principles that I've learned and lived with here in Massachusetts.

I'm proud of what we stood for in this campaign and of what we accomplished.

When we began, no one thought it was possible to even make this a close race.

But we stood for real change, change that would make a real difference in the life of our nation and the lives of our families. And we defined that choice to America.

I'll never forget the wonderful people who came to our rallies, who stood in our rope lines, who put their hopes in our hands, who invested in each and every one of us. I saw in them the truth that America is not only great, but it is good.


So, with a grateful heart, I leave this campaign with a prayer that has even greater meaning to me now that I've come to know our vast country so much better thanks to all of you and what a privilege it has been to do so.

And that prayer is very simple: God bless America.

Thank you.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: His voice hoarse, clearly choking up, John Kerry concedes defeat. Says he hopes that today the United States can begin the process of healing. "We cannot win this election," John Kerry says.

We'll continue to watch these pictures, live pictures from Faneuil Hall.

Jeff Greenfield, in contrast to what John Kerry said, John Edward said at one point, "The fight has just begun. We will continue to fight for every vote." I heard two very different themes coming through these speeches by John Edwards and John Kerry.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, John Kerry actually echoing Ted Kennedy's sort of concession speech in 1980 at the Democratic convention, the famous speech about the dream will never die. He said our fight goes on, and then he had the laundry list, affordable health care.

But he also struck the note that I think everyone wanted him to strike, I want to see the president succeed. We have a tough fight in the war on terror, we have a tough fight in Iraq. We don't need recriminations. I realize that it may be spoiling the moment, but I suspect as I said a moment ago, that the minute George Bush sends his -- if there is one, a Supreme Court nomination up, that fight will not only not die, it will start in reheated form.

BLITZER: Maybe John Edwards we'll be right when he says "The fight has just begun," referring to -- among other fights.

Judy, give us your thoughts on what we just saw.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I do. I hate to be cynical, but, you know, we've heard them say before, you know, the country is divided. John Kerry just said America is in need of unity. But I think it was a genuine expression at this moment.

Clearly, he is feeling the worst sort of disappointment. And he did reach out. He did reach out to the president. I think he made a very gracious statement.

He certainly thanked the people who have given their all to him for the months to come. And I think what he said is a message that is going to -- you know, it has a feel to it that is going to, I think, make Democrats feel better about this loss, if such a thing is possible. Because he said -- he said, "I pledge to do my part to bridge the partisan divide."

And now more than ever -- he said we've got troops in Iraq, we must win the war on terror, and so on and so on. So, I think this is -- this is the beginning of at least an effort to bring the country together, but a lot of hard work lies ahead.

BLITZER: Teresa Heinz Kerry, John Kerry walking away together with Elizabeth Edwards and John Edwards.

You want to make another point, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: Yes. Impolite as it may be, just once I want to hear a defeated candidate give the concession speech that an old friend of mine, Dick Tuck, who you remember, the great practical joker, gave. He ran for state Senate 30 some years ago, lost. He got up and said, "The people have spoken, the bastards."

There has to be a feeling among these people that at some level it's a wound. And as somebody who used to work in politics, I know what it feels like to be in a campaign that loses. You feel your friends avoid you as though you have a communicable disease for a while.

Losing is one of the really worst things you can do in politics. And for people who poured two years of their life into this, who've worked 20-hour days, eaten bad food, slept in bad hotels, shaken hands with people they wouldn't want to shake hands with, listened irrational people sometimes, and at the same time had enormously uplifting experiences on the campaign, it's an amazing experience that -- that takes you to the best and worst of the country and people.

And then to lose? It is an open wound that does not heal very easily.

WALLACE: But I think today there is more sadness than there is anger, Wolf. I think the anger will come, the recriminations will come. But they're just feeling pretty hollow and pretty empty and pretty sad about the whole thing. Because, as Jeff said, they've -- and we've watched them, they have given their all, these young people, the older people across the board, these families.

I think John Kerry put it -- put it very well, when he, you know, he talked about what this campaign meant to him. And I think, you know, it sounded to me genuine when he said, "I've listened to you, I've learned about this country." And he said it's been a privilege to run for president. And I think he really means that.

BLITZER: John King is at the White House.

We'll continue to show our viewers these pictures from inside Faneuil Hall, John. But I'm anxious to hear what your thoughts are.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, talking to some of my colleagues here, as we listened to Senator Kerry, much like Al Gore four years ago, perhaps the most human we have seen him was in his concession speech. A graceful message from Senator Kerry, a very welcomed message here at the Bush White House. A message they say echoes what Senator Kerry said in his brief phone conversation with the president earlier today. Mr. Bush will pivot from this. And in his remarks due up in the next hour, about 35 minutes from now, he will very much, as Senator Kerry says, commit to reaching out and unifying the country.

So, the message today will be unity. As Jeff's noting, the Supreme Court is one possibility, health care and Social Security another, taxes yet another. The confrontation will come when you have a State of the Union, a new budget, and Mr. Bush gets a bout trying to govern in a second term.

The atmosphere, though, on this day is much better. And in talking to some Democrats around the country this morning, I would make this point: four years ago they felt robbed. They thought they were cheated in Florida. They thought their votes were denied in many places.

This morning, they feel beat. They're sad about that, but it is very different to be beaten than to be robbed. That is the psychological difference, if you will, in the Democratic Party on this day.

BLITZER: And as much as so many Democrats would probably like to have challenged the votes in Ohio, John Kerry making the decision there's no hope, absolutely no hope. He said we cannot win this election. As a result, no challenge will go forward. They will count those provisional ballots in Ohio, but it's probably -- it's almost certainly not going to change the difference.

Before we go to Candy Crowley, I want to put on the screen -- now that John Kerry has conceded in Ohio, CNN was waiting for that, we'll make it official. No great surprise those 20 Ohio electoral votes will go to John Kerry.

Here's the general vote, the overall vote: 51 percent for Bush, 49 percent for Kerry, with almost all the votes in the country in. You see Ohio now become a red state, 20 electoral votes. That brings it up to 274 for Bush; 270 need to be elected president of the United States, 252 for Kerry.

Iowa, with its seven electoral votes, New Mexico with its five electoral votes, still some doubt as to where it stands. The secretaries of state in those two states say they're continuing to count. We'll see what happens.

But right now, it really won't make any difference in the all- important electoral college. 272, that's over the top for John Kerry. He gets to be elected -- John Kerry -- over the top for President Bush. He gets to be reelected, and that's where it stands, and that's where it will stand.

Candy Crowley, you watched this, you covered John Kerry for a long time. What did you think?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I thought we saw a bad cop-good cop presentation. Very interesting to me. John Edwards, of course, who is without a job at this point, having quit his Senate seat after one term, almost like a trial lawyer on appeal here. "We'll keep fighting. We'll keep doing this."

Whereas obviously with John Kerry, you got, A, a much more conciliatory, "we've got to come together," speaking directly to his voters, telling them first, "I couldn't win this," which I thought was key. Already, you can tell by your e-mail, people saying, you know, did you check into this fraud, did you check into that fraud? And here's John Kerry saying we couldn't have won, the votes weren't there. So, I think it was very key to calm down the residue of 2000.

Secondly, just on a personal note, this is -- only two times have I really seen John Kerry get emotional. One of them was here today as he was thanking his staff.

When you look out and you see all these people that you've seen for two years, who, you know, carried your coat, who, you know, brought the crowds in, who put up the signs, who put up the posters, obviously he was choking up there. Only other time I heard him like that was the day that Christopher Reeve died, and he gave a speech out in New Mexico, I think it was. And that also a very tough time.

And part of the rap on John Kerry has been that you never knew where his soul was. That he was such a politician, that you never could get to him. And I'm struck by the fact -- I've seen a lot of concession speeches in my time, and -- from Al Gore to Bush 41, even to Bob Dole, and now to John Kerry, suddenly when they have to stop being anything for anybody, you get to see a little bit of who they are.

And I think we saw that emotional side of John Kerry that they've been trying so hard to put out there. The one that said, "I wish to all my supporters out there, I could put my arms around you." That's such an un-Kerry-esque statement, I can't tell you. And yet it came with feeling. So, I think in losing, sometimes we actually get to find out who that person is, and I think we saw a little bit of John Kerry today.

BLITZER: We saw that choked up John Kerry. He was choking back tears on a couple of occasions. He was fighting it.

Totally understandable if he wanted to let go. Everybody would have understood. This is a sad moment in his political life, in his life. It would have been understandable.

Candy, I'll get back to you.


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