Hillary Clinton spoke Wednesday morning from the ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan, where she calmly, graciously conceded to Donald Trump and urged her supporters to keep fighting for Democratic values. Clinton appeared before a crowd of staff and supporters, many of them looking stricken or openly crying. It was one of the saddest moments in American public life in a long, long time.
Tim Kaine appeared first with wife Anne Holton and received a brief standing ovation. “My wife Anne and I are so proud of Hillary Clinton,” he told the crowd. He noted that Clinton won the popular vote, to another long round of applause. “I’m proud of Hillary Clinton because, in the words of Langston Hughes, she’s held fast to dreams.”
“Nobody had to wonder about Hillary Clinton, whether she would accept an outcome of an election in our beautiful democracy,” Kaine added, in a jab at Trump.
Clinton appeared with husband Bill at her side, along with their daughter Chelsea and Chelsea’s husband Marc Mezvinsky. She was smiling and absolutely composed, even as Bill occasionally looked near tears behind her.
“Last night I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country,” she began. “I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country. But I feel pride and gratitude for this wonderful campaign we built together.”
Clinton told her supports that they represent “the best of America and being your candidate has been one of the greatest honors of my life.”
She acknowledged, too, how painful this day is: “I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too and so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country that we love and building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive and bighearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do too, then we must accept this result, then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it.”
She added, a moment later, “Now our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better strong fairer America we see and I know you will.”
Clinton closed with an exhortation to “the young people,” telling them, “Never stop fighting for what’s right.” In what was perhaps the most emotional moment for many, she addressed young women specifically, telling them, “Nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.” And to young girls, she said, “Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue your own dreams.”
Clinton expressed a hope that a woman will shatter the glass ceiling someday soon, “perhaps sooner than it feels right now.” She closed by quoting the Bible (“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up”), and hugged her family for a long time before leaving the stage and wading into the crowd to accept hugs and handshakes, and, it appeared, to comfort a few people.
You can watch her speech in full here.