Super Tuesday Concession Speech

Date: March 7, 2000
Location: New York, NY

I want to congratulate the Vice President on his victories tonight. He won and I lost, and, on one level, I agree with Vince Lombardi when he said, "Winning isn't everything—it's the only thing."

Tomorrow, I will consult with supporters around the country to get their thoughts and advice, and I'll make my plans known shortly.

But tonight, I want to go to a deeper level than winning or losing, and agree with Kipling, who said we should treat those two imposters just the same. Tonight, we celebrate what each of you in this room, the tireless workers for our campaign throughout this country, and millions of voters have accomplished—and that is the beginning of a new politics in our country.

Throughout this campaign, I've talked about the essential goodness of the American people. I see and feel it as deeply and as clearly today as I ever have. But in running for President, I've also sought to enlist something else—something I have always seen in the eyes of the American people. And that is idealism. A belief that good can triumph over bad, that principle can defeat expediency. I decided to run for President to tap into that deep and abiding strand in our national character, for only by enlisting it can we create a new politics and do the great things that still need to be done. The things we can now afford to do in these times of unprecedented prosperity. The things which if we did them would make us all stronger.

That awareness, that hope, that spirit lives in the hearts of millions and millions of Americans.

In this campaign, we don't ask where the wind is blowing and then follow it to gain the people's quick approval. We begin with conviction, talk with people, listen to their stories, and then propose what we think will make a difference in their lives.

Despite our lack of victory tonight, there is so much that every one of you who became a part of our campaign has to be proud of. We've shaped the national debate in this campaign. We have brought core Democratic issues to the fore. When no one was talking about the 44 million Americans without health insurance, we gave voice to the voiceless. When no one was talking about the 13 children who die every day from gun violence, we heard their cries. When no one was talking about the nearly 14 million children who still live in poverty in this country, we said America cannot be America if they remain poor in a time of plenty. When no one was talking about campaign finance reform, we connected people's skepticism about the state of our democracy to the pollution of money in our politics.

Over a year ago, I began the journey to seek the Democratic nomination. It is truly a joyous journey, one that reaffirms my belief that America is a special nation at a special moment in our history -- a moment which, if we do not seize, will cause future generations to judge us harshly and say, "They knew what was wrong, they had the means to make it better, but they did not act."

Today, millions of people across the nation voted for a change in the way Washington works and political campaigns are run.

I have always believed that politics is the way we experience collectively what we can never know alone. The campaign reaffirms that belief for me every day.

There is no doubt in my mind that tonight, we are a step closer to a society in which no family has to fear being one paycheck away from financial disaster because their children get sick.

Tonight, we are a step closer to being a democracy where reform once again has its day.

Tonight, we are a step closer to realizing the promise of America, that we are one nation where people can see beneath skin color, eye shape, or sexual orientation to the person—to the American that is their neighbor.

And there is no doubt in my mind that tonight we are a step closer to a politics that once again is seen as noble service, where those who practice it are trusted, and where corruption and deceit give way to truth and candor.

We are closer to these things because of the efforts of people in this room, around the country, and the millions who voted today for change. In particular, I want to thank the young people whose energy and idealism are a constant source of inspiration for me and for everybody in this campaign.

Change isn't easy, nor does it always come quickly. I've always said it would take time to change politics in this country, away from the distortions and negativity that have become the accepted norm for campaigns from local supervisor to President of the United States. I know that kind of change isn't easy. But anything worth fighting for rarely is.

Thirty-four years ago in South Africa, Robert Kennedy said, "Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and in the total of all these acts will be written the history of this generation."

I believe history will write that we tried to change politics, to restore trust, and to defeat the politics of expediency.

Above all, we must remember that the fact that we have not succeeded in winning tonight's primaries makes the cause no less just, the fight no less honorable, the goal no less reachable. Some have called our goals unrealistic. I call them common sense. I call them Democratic. I call them American. And I'm going to work for them until we win—and we will win!

Thank you.