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Gracious in defeat

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End of the day: John McCain and Sarah Palin at a rally on Tuesday.
End of the day: John McCain and Sarah Palin at a rally on Tuesday.

PHOENIX: With a gracious nod to Barack Obama, John McCain acknowledged defeat and urged his supporters to move beyond partisan differences to put country first — an echo of his campaign theme.

“I wish godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my President,” Mr. McCain said as he conceded the presidency he has sought for a decade.

The four-term Arizona Senator added: “These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.”

Flanked by his wife Cindy and his running mate Sarah Palin, Mr. McCain stepped before supporters at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix on a balmy Tuesday shortly after telephoning Mr. Obama to offer his congratulations and concede the race.

He implored his backers to fall in line behind Mr. Obama and put aside partisan bickering. And, he pushed back on a smattering of boos and shouts of “No-Bama! and “Reverend Wright,” a reference to Mr. Obama’s incendiary former pastor.

“Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans,” Mr. McCain said. “No association has ever meant more to me...”

After an intensely negative campaign, Mr. McCain went to lengths to take the high road in his concession speech and acknowledged the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s barrier-breaking accomplishment.

“His success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance,” he said, adding that he “deeply admired” Mr. Obama for inspiring the hopes of people “who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence” in electing a President.

“This is an historic election, and I recognise the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight,” Mr. McCain said adding that the U.S. had moved “a world away” from its racist past by electing the country’s first black President.

He praised Ms. Palin as “one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform.” — AP

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