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In an eloquent speech, John McCain concedes loss

November 4, 2008 |  9:01 pm

(UPDATE: In a conversation late Tuesday night McCain's top aide, Mark Salter, who's collaborated on McCain's books, told The Times' Maeve Reston that the Arizona senator instructed him to craft a concession speech that captured the historic sweep of his Democratic opponent's victory, McCain's promise to work with him and another sympathetic mention of the passing of Obama's grandmother.

(Salter began the writing at 6 p.m. By 8, he had a draft of the 10-minute remarks completed for the senator's review. And the world heard those words soon after.)

John McCain has admitted defeat in the race for the White House. Complete text of Sen. McCain's concession speech available here.

Speaking before a crowd of supporters at an Arizona hotel several minutes ago, he said that he had called his rival, Democrat Barack Obama, to concede.

"My friends, we have -- we have come to the end of a long journey," he told the crowd. "The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Sen. Barack Obama to congratulate him."

The news was met with boos, but McCain hushed them. In the eloquent speech that followed, McCain acknowledged the special historic significance of Obama's victory and urged Americans to put aside their differences.

"These are difficult times for our country and I pledged to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us in the many challenges we face," McCain said. "I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will."

When he was interrupted by jeers, he tried to calm the crowd again. "Please," he pleaded softly.

"Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans, and believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that. It is natural to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and ... get our country moving again."

McCain said he blamed himself for the loss. "We fought as hard as we could," he said. "Though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours," he said.

McCain thanked his family and friends and campaign aides and then thanked Sarah Palin, who stood nearby with tears in her eyes. He called Palin "one of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength." That line received the loudest applause of the night.

Before leaving the stage McCain said, "This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life."

Obama is giving his acceptance speech in Chicago now.

-- Kate Linthicum

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