Barack Obama is president.
I listened to John McCain's concession speech with disgust. It succinctly summed up McCain: a pragmatist and compromiser to the end. A principled opponent would have conceded the battle but laid the groundwork for the larger war. He would have pledged to relight the flame of liberty during the dark times ahead.
In today's climate, such a speech is unthinkable. Unity is the buzzword of the day. Like many times during his flawed, unprincipled run at the presidency, I sought comfort in the 1964 campaign. After listening to McCain's terrible convention acceptance speech, Goldwater's was a palliative. I figured that his concession in that same year might provide the inspiring call to action that McCain's wasn't. There's some of that but I think there must be a pattern of graciousness in these matters that I was unaware of. Or maybe the losing candidates are just as sick of campaigning as we are.
I've waited 'til now to make any statement about this election because I wanted to find out more of the details of the vote—not just the total but the spread of it, what it might portend at this very early date.
I know many of you expected me to make some statement last night but I held that off. I sent the President the following wire, which I think will be available for you if you don't have it now:
"To President Lyndon Johnson in Johnson City, Texas.
Congratulations on your victory. I will help you in any way that I can toward achieving a growing and better America and a secure and dignified peace. The role of the Republican party will remain in that temper but it also remains the party of opposition when opposition is called for. There is much to be done with Vietnam, Cuba, the problem of law and order in this country, and a productive economy. Communism remains our No. 1 obstacle to peace and I know that all Americans will join with you in honest solutions to these problems."
I have no bitterness, no rancor at all. I say to the President as a fellow politician that he did a wonderful job. He put together a vote total that's larger than has ever been gained in this country.
However, it's interesting to me and very surprising to me that the latest figures that I can get do not reach the totals of the 1960 election. I am disappointed in this because I thought that the American people would have turned out in greater numbers than they seem to have done.
But he did a good job and I have to congratulate him on it.
Also I want to express my gratitude to the more than 25 million people in this country who not necessarily voted for me but they voted for a philosophy I represent, a Republican philosophy that I believe the Republican party must cling to and strengthen in the years ahead.
I want to thank all of you across this nation who turned out in those numbers to support my candidacy and that of Bill Miller and the Republican party.
I don't think that I've ever seen more dedicated people in my life, people who worked as hard or who worked as long and produced the results that they did. These people are dedicated to, as I say, the Republican philosophy.
There is a two-party system in this country and we're going to keep it. We're going to devote our days and the years ahead to strengthening the Republican party, to getting more people into it and I feel that the young people coming along will provide the army that we need.
This effort that we engaged in last January 3 turns out to be a much longer effort than we thought. It's not an effort that we can drop now nor do we have any intentions of dropping it now.
I will devote—being unemployed as of January 3 or thereabouts—I'll have a lot of time to devote to this party, to its leadership and to the strengthening of the party, and that I have every intention of doing. I want to just ask the people in this country who worked so hard in this election not to be despondent, that we have a job to do and let's get along with it, because there are many questions that have to be answered.
I'm very hopeful that the President will, now that the election is over, get along with the answers that we've sought during the campaign—the answers about Vietnam, about Cuba, about Communism—Communism's continuing growth all around the world—about the growing tendency to the control of our economy and our daily lives in this country.
As I said in my wire, anything that I can do—and I'm sure that I speak for all Americans—anything that we can do to help the President get along with the solutions to these problems, we're ready, willing and able to do.
Now with that I have nothing further to say. I will entertain a few questions—not any prolonged period at it. Mr. Wagner will recognize.