[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from
Thank you very much.
Good evening, my fellow Americans. I appreciate so very
much the opportunity to speak with you tonight.
Mr. Speaker, Lieutenant Governor, friends, distinguished guests, our country has
been through a long and trying period, with the outcome of the presidential
election not finalized for longer than any of us could ever imagine.
Vice President Gore and I put our hearts and hopes into our campaigns. We both
gave it our all. We shared similar emotions, so I understand how difficult this
moment must be for Vice President Gore and his family.
He has a distinguished record of service to our country as a congressman, a
senator and a vice president.
This evening I received a gracious call from the vice president. We agreed to
meet early next week in Washington, and we agreed to do our best to heal our
country after this hard-fought contest.
Tonight I want to thank all the thousands of volunteers and campaign workers who
worked so hard on my behalf.
I also salute the vice president and his supports for waging a spirited
campaign. And I thank him for a call that I know was difficult to make. Laura
and I wish the vice president and Senator Lieberman and their families the very
I have a lot to be thankful for tonight. I'm thankful for America and thankful
that we were able to resolve our electoral differences in a peaceful way.
I'm thankful to the American people for the great privilege of being able to
serve as your next president.
I want to thank my wife and our daughters for their love. Laura's active
involvement as first lady has made Texas a better place, and she will be a
wonderful first lady of America.
I am proud to have Dick Cheney by my side, and America will be proud to have him
as our next vice president.
Tonight, I chose to speak from the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives
because it has been a home to bipartisan cooperation. Here in a place where
Democrats have the majority, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to
do what is right for the people we represent.
We've had spirited disagreements. And in the end, we found constructive
consensus. It is an experience I will always carry with me, an example I will
I want to thank my friend, House Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat, who introduced
me today. I want to thank the legislators from both political parties with whom
Across the hall in our Texas capitol is the state Senate. And I cannot help but
think of our mutual friend, the former Democrat lieutenant governor, Bob
Bullock. His love for Texas and his ability to work in a bipartisan way continue
to be a model for all of us.
The spirit of cooperation I have seen in this hall is what is needed in
Washington, D.C. It is the challenge of our moment. After a difficult election,
we must put politics behind us and work together to make the promise of America
available for every one of our citizens.
I'm optimistic that we can change the tone in Washington, D.C.
I believe things happen for a reason, and I hope the long wait of the last five
weeks will heighten a desire to move beyond the bitterness and partisanship of
the recent past.
Our nation must rise above a house divided. Americans share hopes and goals and
values far more important than any political disagreements.
Republicans want the best for our nation, and so do Democrats. Our votes may
differ, but not our hopes.
I know America wants reconciliation and unity. I know Americans want progress.
And we must seize this moment and deliver.
Together, guided by a spirit of common sense, common courtesy and common goals,
we can unite and inspire the American citizens.
Together, we will work to make all our public schools excellent, teaching every
student of every background and every accent, so that no child is left behind.
Together, we will save Social Security and renew its promise of a secure
retirement for generations to come.
Together, we will strengthen Medicare and offer prescription drug coverage to all
of our seniors.
Together, we will give Americans the broad, fair, and fiscally responsible tax
relief they deserve.
Together, we'll have a bipartisan foreign policy true to our values and true to
our friends, and we will have a military equal to every challenge and superior
to every adversary.
Together, we will address some of society's deepest problems one person at a
time, by encouraging and empowering the good hearts and good works of the
This is the essence of compassionate conservatism and it will be a foundation of
These priorities are not merely Republican concerns or Democratic concerns; they
are American responsibilities.
During the fall campaign, we differed about the details of these proposals, but
there was remarkable consensus about the important issues before us: excellent
schools, retirement and health security, tax relief, a strong military, a more
We have discussed our differences. Now it is time to find common ground and
build consensus to make America a beacon of opportunity in the 21st century.
I'm optimistic this can happen. Our future demands it and our history proves it.
Two hundred years ago, in the election of 1800, America faced another close
presidential election. A tie in the Electoral College put the outcome into the
hands of Congress.
After six days of voting and 36 ballots, the House of Representatives elected
Thomas Jefferson the third president of the United States. That election brought
the first transfer of power from one party to another in our new democracy.
Shortly after the election, Jefferson, in a letter titled "Reconciliation and
Reform," wrote this: "The steady character of our countrymen is a rock to which
we may safely moor; unequivocal in principle, reasonable in manner. We should be
able to hope to do a great deal of good to the cause of freedom and harmony."
Two hundred years have only strengthened the steady character of America. And so
as we begin the work of healing our nation, tonight I call upon that character:
respect for each other, respect for our differences, generosity of spirit, and a
willingness to work hard and work together to solve any problem.
I have something else to ask you, to ask every American. I ask for you to pray
for this great nation. I ask for your prayers for leaders from both parties. I
thank you for your prayers for me and my family, and I ask you to pray for Vice
President Gore and his family.
I have faith that with God's help we as a nation will move forward together as
one nation, indivisible. And together we will create an America that is open,
so every citizen has access to the American dream; an America that is educated,
so every child has the keys to realize that dream; and an America that is united
in our diversity and our shared American values that are larger than race or
I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation.
The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of
every race and every background.
Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests and I
will work to earn your respect.
I will be guided by President Jefferson's sense of purpose, to stand for
principle, to be reasonable in manner, and above all, to do great good for the
cause of freedom and harmony.
The presidency is more than an honor. It is more than an office. It is a charge
to keep, and I will give it my all.