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In an eloquent speech, John McCain concedes loss

(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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People please ... you don't turn honor on and off at will. While I agree McCain's concession speech was fantastic, I give full credit to Mark Salter -- the man who WROTE it. McCain didn't write this speech. He just delivered it. Let's not think for a moment that the "real" McCain finally came through simply based on this ONE speech written FOR him by another person. Congratulations Mr. Salter, for an excellent speech, and to Mr. McCain, for delivering it so well.

John McCain is and always will be a class act. If his stump speeches would have been crafted in the same tone as his speech last night, he would have given himself a better chance to win the election. Instead, his campaign was turned over to the Rove-style thugs who shaped a campaign around innudendo, fear and bitterness. From the tenor of his crowd last night, some of his supporters still don't get the fact that the angry tone was not going to work in this election against someone like Obama.

I think John McCain must be given credit for a very thoughtful and articulate concession speech. Had he talked like that throughout his whole campaign and chose a running mate that knew something, instead of a ditz, perhaps the results would have been different. Or at least the campaigns would have reached a higher level of integrity. Sorry John. Sarah wasn't it. And your actions and smear tactics weren't it either. I kind of feel bad for you and I'm not trying to unkind.

I think that McCain delivered a gracious speech that reflected the man he truly is. The man that was seen in the last 6 months was controlled by his party that did not choose to display the McCain we heard yesterday. These two men were great men and I was proud to vote in an election with great men to choose from...Good luck and God speed to Obama, I do not envy him, he has his job cut out for him.

John McCain ran a great campaign. I wish him the best.
Sarah Palin will have a bright future in politics. It does not matter that they lost, it was not her time yet.

THE BEST MAN WON. HANDS DOWN. AND THANK GOD FOR THAT.

I was truly moved by McCain's concession speech. I definitely gained a greater respect for the man after his words last night. He seemed completely genuine and I only hope that we as Americans can pull together, as he suggested, no matter what side of the fence we are on.

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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