After suffering one of the most shocking political defeats in modern memory, Hillary Clinton took to the stage on Wednesday morning (Nov. 9) to offer the concession speech her rabid followers never thought they'd hear.
Sounding hoarse and smiling at the extended ovation, Clinton cleared her throat a few times and said: "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."
Shortly after running mate Sen. Tim Kaine introduced Clinton by saying how proud he was of her and her status as a "history maker," Clinton smiled as she looked out at the room of supporters with husband President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea standing in support behind her and began the difficult task of admitting defeat.
"This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I am sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country," she said. "But I feel pride and gratitude for this wonderful campaign that we built together. This vast, diverse, creative, unruly, energized campaign. You represent the best of America and being your candidate has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too and so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful and it will be for a long time," she added, her voice appearing to crack a bit.
"But I want you to remember this: our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love and about building an America that's hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. 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 all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them."
Clinton, the former two-term First Lady who has spent most of her life advocating on behalf of women, children and the less fortunate as well as serving as a Senator from New York and Sec. of State in the Obama administration, was arguably the most qualified presidential candidate in American history. That she lost to neophyte Republican businessman Donald Trump -- who will be the first-ever U.S. commander in chief with no political or military experience -- came as a shock to a number of Clinton's long-time aides and campaign staff who yearned to see the nation elect its first female president.
During her concession speech many of the long-time staffers who were with Clinton during her 2008 presidential run and who worked tirelessly for the past two years on this bid were seen with tears in their eyes as she graciously accepted defeat.
In the final tally, Trump won the election with 289 electoral votes to Clinton's 218, though she beat Trump in the popular vote with 59.3 million votes to his 59.1 million. The mood at Clinton's expected celebration party at Javitz Center in New York on Tuesday night (Nov. 8) -- pointedly chosen for its large glass ceiling -- was described as somber and full of devastated boosters who struggled to understand how a historical night had turned so dark. For the 69-year-old Clinton, the hard-fought second run for the White House is likely her last major political race, a harsh rebuke for a public servant whose tenacity inspired millions to pledge #ImWithHer. (Find the full text of her speech below.)
"And let me add, our constitutional democracy demands our participation," she reminded those gathered for the speech. "Not just every four years, but all the time. So let's do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear: making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Protecting our country and protecting our planet and breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams."
President Obama, who is slated to speak today at 12:15 p.m ET on the election's results, will host reality TV star and real estate mogul Trump, 70, at the White House on Thursday in a traditional meeting between the president and president-elect. "She congratulated us -- it's about us -- on our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign," Trump said in an early morning speech to his supporters following his electoral college victory. "Hilary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country."
Trump, who as is his wont, made a series of harsh statements condemning Clinton and her long history of public service during the campaign, then pivoted to a message of hope that contrasted with the often dark portrait he'd painted of the country during his run. "Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division," he said. "Have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it's time for us to come together as one united people... I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans."
Clinton ended her remarks with a nod to the millions of women and girls who stayed fast to their screens on Tuesday night -- and throughout the entire campaign -- waiting for the moment when they could say that they were there when she cracked that "highest, hardest" glass ceiling.
"And to all of 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 achieve your own dreams," she said.
The full text of Hillary Clinton's speech:
"Thank you so very much for being here. I love you all, too. 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. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I'm sorry we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.
But I feel pride and gratitude for this wonderful campaign that we built together. This vast, diverse, creative, unruly, energized campaign. You represent the best of America, and being your candidate has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too. And so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this.
Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power.
We don't just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them. Let me add: Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let's do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear. Making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet.
And breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams. We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone. For people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.
I am so grateful to stand with all of you. I want to thank Tim Kaine and Anne Holton for being our partners on this journey. It has been a joy get to go know them better and gives me great hope and comfort to know that Tim will remain on the front lines of our democracy representing Virginia in the Senate.
To Barack and Michelle Obama, our country owes you an enormous debt of gratitude. We thank you for your graceful, determined leadership that has meant so much to so many Americans and people across the world. And to Bill and Chelsea, Mark, Charlotte, Aidan, our brothers and our entire family, my love for you means more than I can ever express.
You crisscrossed this country, even 4-month-old Aidan, who traveled with his mom. I will always be grateful to the talented, dedicated men and women at our headquarters in Brooklyn and across our country. You poured your hearts into this campaign. To some of you who are veterans, it was a campaign after you had done other campaigns. Some of you, it was your first campaign. I want each of you to know that you were the best campaign anybody could have ever expected or wanted.
And to the millions of volunteers, community leaders, activists and union organizers who knocked on doors, talked to their neighbors, posted on Facebook - even in secret private Facebook sites. I want everybody coming out from behind that and make sure your voices are heard going forward. To anyone that sent contributions, even as small as $5, that kept us going, thank you. To all of us, and to the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this - I have, as Tim said, I have spent my entire life fighting for what I believe in.
I've had successes and setbacks and sometimes painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public, and political careers - you will have successes and setbacks too. This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it. It is, it is worth it.
And so we need - we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives. And 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. Now, 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. [Cheers and applause]
And to all of 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 achieve your own dreams. Finally, finally, I am so grateful for our country and for all it has given to me.
I count my blessings every single day that I am an American, and I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strengthen our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us. Because, you know, I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. You know, scripture tells us, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in good season we shall reap. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.
I am incredibly honored and grateful to have had this chance to represent all of you in this consequential election. May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America."