By Robert Mann
Donald Trump, October 2016: “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest. . . . November 8th, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it’s going to be taken away from us.”
Mitt Romney, November 2012: “I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. . . . This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation. . . . The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.”
John McCain, November 2008: “The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Sen. Barack Obama — to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
“In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”
John Kerry, November 2004: “Earlier today, I spoke to President Bush and I offered him and Laura our congratulations on their victory. We had a good conversation. And we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need, the desperate need, for unity for finding the common ground, coming together. Today I hope that we can begin the healing. In America it is vital that every vote count and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal process.”
Al Gore, December 2000: “Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. And I promised him that I wouldn’t call him back this time. I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we’ve just passed.
“Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, ‘Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.’ Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country. Neither he nor I anticipated this long and difficult road. Certainly neither of us wanted it to happen. Yet it came, and now it has ended, resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy.”
Bob Dole, November 1996: “Let me say that I talked to President Clinton. We had a good visit. I congratulated him. . . . I have said repeatedly in this campaign that the president was my opponent not my enemy. And I wish him well and I pledge my support in whatever advances the cause of a better America, because that’s what the race was about in the first place, a better America as we go into the next century.”
George H.W. Bush, November 1992: “Here’s the way we see it and the country should see it — that the people have spoken and we respect the majesty of the democratic system. I just called Governor Clinton over in Little Rock and offered my congratulations. He did run a strong campaign. I wish him well in the White House.
“And I want the country to know that our entire Administration will work closely with his team to insure the smooth transition of power. There is important work to be done, and America must always come first. So we will get behind this new President and wish him — wish him well.”
Michael Dukakis, November 1988: “Just a few minutes ago, I called Vice President Bush and congratulated him on his victory. I want to, and I know I speak for all of you and for all the American people when I say that he will be our President, and we’ll work with him. This nation faces major challenges ahead, and we must work together.”
Walter Mondale, November 1984: “[Ronald Reagan] has won. We are all Americans. He is our president, and we honor him tonight. Again tonight, the American people in town halls, in homes, in fire houses, in libraries, chose the occupant of the most powerful office on Earth. Their choice was made peacefully, with dignity and with majesty. And although, and although I would have rather won, tonight, tonight we rejoice in our democracy, we rejoice in the freedom of a wonderful people, and we accept their verdict.”
Jimmy Carter, November 1980: “About an hour ago, I called Governor Reagan in California, and I told him that I congratulated him for a fine victory. I look forward to working closely with him during the next few weeks. We’ll have a very fine transition period, I told him I wanted the best one in history, and I then sent him this telegram, and I’ll read it to you. ‘It’s now apparent that the American people have chosen you as the next president. I congratulate you, and pledge to you our fullest support and cooperation in bringing about an orderly transition of government in the weeks ahead. My best wishes are with you and your family as you undertake the responsibilities that lie before you.’ And I signed it, Jimmy Carter.”
Gerald Ford, November 1976 in a telegram: “Dear Jimmy: It is apparent now that you have won our long and intense struggle for the Presidency. I congratulate you on your victory.
“As one who has been honored to serve the people of this great land, both in Congress and as President, I believe that we must now put the divisions of the campaign behind us and unite the country once again in the common pursuit of peace and prosperity.
“Although there will continue to be disagreements over the best means to use in pursuing our goals, I want to assure you that you will have my complete and wholehearted support as you take the oath of office this January.”