McCain pledges to help Obama lead country

Brock Harrington

VIEW a gallery of photos from McCain’s speech in Arizona.

PHOENIX – Sen. John McCain took an early lead in the 2008 presidential race yesterday after Kentucky and West Virginia both were announced his states.

But the rest of the night wasn’t close at all.

McCain quickly lost the lead to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. A little after 9 p.m. mountain time, McCain conceded the election to Obama.

“It’s natural tonight to feel some disappoint, but we must move on,” McCain told supporters.

The McCain campaign hosted an election night party at Phoenix’s historical Biltmore Hotel. As the crowd of McCain supporters danced throughout the night and listened to speakers praise the Arizona senator, McCain stayed in a hotel room watching the results flow in.

One by one, polls began flowing onto the giant screens behind the stage. The screens cycled through cable channels such as CNN and networks such as CBS to reveal which states were turning red.

McCain captured the usual Republican states early in the night, but Obama went on to win key swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The mood at the party continued to be upbeat until the results from Florida started to appear on the screen. Initial results showed Obama had a slight lead in the Sunshine State, and the crowd began to chant “why?”

Sen. John Kyle of Arizona admitted to the crowd that McCain had lost a state that he wanted, likely Ohio, but said McCain still had hope.

“John McCain is a fighter,” Kyle said, also citing that McCain had been counted out before during the primaries.

Shortly after Kyle spoke, results from crucial states such as New Mexico and Colorado revealed that Obama had won both, and had captured the 270 votes needed for the election.

McCain supporters, already suspicious McCain was ready to concede the election, were shuttled to another part of the Biltmore Hotel to hear the speech.

“I thought it was a good concession speech,” McCain supporter Niles Dunnells said. “McCain has always been a uniter, and it was what I expected from him.”

McCain congratulated Obama on being elected and spoke of how far the country had come by electing the first black candidate. The 72-year-old senator said he is ready to assist the 44th president of the United States of America.

“I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face,” McCain said.

McCain’s bid for the White House started just days after the 2006 midterms, when it was rumored he would attempt a second try at the White House. In 2000, McCain lost to President George W. Bush in the Republican primaries.

McCain made his candidacy official early in 2007 and has been running ever since. McCain started as just one of nine Republican candidates. During the Republican primaries, McCain’s campaign was nearly broke in the summer of 2007, but the senator was able to bounce back to defeat opponents Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani.

By March of this year, McCain had securely won the Republican nomination, and was forced to watch Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton drag the Democratic primaries through a long process that some pundits said took the focus off McCain.

In the month leading up to the election, McCain faced a struggling economy most Americans blamed on the unpopular incumbent president of the same party. Facing large deficits in the polls, McCain was labeled an underdog just days before the election by members in his own party.

This time, the polls were right. Although McCain did win 48 percent of the popular vote, he was defeated heavily in the Electoral College, 334-157.

“I’m disappointed, but like Senator McCain said, America is a resilient country and we’ll have to suffer through four years of Obama,” Dunnells said.

McCain ended his campaign with one last message to his supporters.

“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Brock Harrington at [email protected].