TOPSHOT - US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a concession speech after being  defeated by Republican president-elect Donald Trump as former President Bill Clinton(L) and running mate Tim Kaine look on in New York on November 9, 2016. / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Clinton to all girls: Don't doubt you are valuable
01:18 - Source: CNN

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Clinton conceded to President-elect Donald Trump by phone earlier Wednesday morning

Much of the seating at Clinton's remarks was for staff and aides

New York CNN  — 

“I’m sorry.”

With those simple words, Hillary Clinton, who thought she would wake up Wednesday as the first woman president-elect but crashed to a stunning election defeat to Donald Trump, ended her White House quest and likely her political career.

The Democratic nominee unequivocally conceded the presidential race, and said that the Constitution requires a peaceful transfer of power.

“Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans,” Clinton said.

“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead,” said Clinton, who was composed and dignified even as she admitted how painful her defeat was in her first public comments on the result of the election.

“This is not the outcome that we wanted and we worked so hard for, and I am sorry that we did not win this election,” Clinton told supporters and campaign workers in New York.

Clinton also addressed the historic achievement for which she twice strived in losing presidential campaigns.

“I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.”

“And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve your own dreams.”

Clinton’s speech was devoid of bitterness and seemed at times to be an attempt to inspire her supporters about the virtues of public service and of fighting for what they believe.

But she also put Trump on notice that the core American values which many Democrats believe Trump abhors, citing his proposals for a ban on Muslim immigration and rhetorical assaults on female journalists during his campaign, would not be forgotten.

“Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things: the rule of law, the principle that we are equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them.”

Tears flowed

Much of the seating at Clinton’s remarks was for staff and aides and the campaign was treating it as a farewell to the people who have spent the better part of two years working on her behalf, an aide said.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine also was on hand. The Virginia senator was not with Clinton Tuesday night.

“I’m proud of Hillary, because she loves this country,” said Kaine, who had tears in his eyes, as he delivered introductory remarks.

Aides throughout the ballroom were sobbing during Clinton’s remarks. Quiet moments in the speech were filled with tears, sniffles and some sobs. Clinton’s top aides, seated in the front row, were almost all crying.

Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, was wiping away tears. Nick Merrill, Clinton’s traveling press secretary, was weeping.

The most somber moment in Clinton’s speech was when she specifically noted her impact to women and girls.

“To all the women and especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion,” Clinton said, her voice breaking with emotion.

There were audible cries – and some sobs – throughout the room.

Bill Clinton, while working the ropeline, wiped away tears.

Huma Abedin cried during the speech but kept a stoic face during much of the ropeline.

Clinton worked the ropeline after the event, moving from tearful conversation to tearful conversation.

She first spoke with Anastasia Somoza, the 32-year old woman diagnosed with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia who interned for Clinton’s Senate office.

Bending down to hug Somoza, Clinton told her, “You were so wonderful in every way. I love you.”

“Thank you for all your work,” Clinton told Somoza’s mother.

She hugged Joel Bennenson and John Anzalone, two of her pollsters, who acknowledged to other aides last night that they didn’t see the Trump wave coming.

She hugged Jim Margolis and Mandy Grunwald, who created many of the campaign’s television ads.

Clinton left somewhat unceremoniously, departing through a blue curtain to the left of the room and later to her motorcade.

End of a campaign