WASHINGTON, Nov 3: President George Bush told Senator John Kerry in a phone call on Wednesday that he was an "admirable, worthy opponent" who should be proud of the presidential campaign he ran, the White House said.
Spokesman Scott McClellan gave some details of the phone call Mr Kerry made in which the Massachusetts Democrat conceded defeat to the president, handing Bush a second four-year term.
"I think you were an admirable, worthy opponent," Bush told Kerry, according to McClellan. "You waged one tough campaign. I hope you are proud of the effort you put in. You should be." Kerry was gracious in the late morning call, McClellan said.
He said Bush believes he won a mandate in the election, in which the president won the popular vote by about 3.5 million votes. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 by more than 500,000.
Bush and his aides have already signalled that the Republican president will seek to bring the divided country together in his second term. The goal eluded him in his first term after he campaigned on a pledge to be "a uniter, not a divider."
In afternoon remarks, Bush will talk about how he was "humbled by the outpouring of support for his candidacy," the spokesman said.
Election Day, and its extended aftermath, put the White House on an emotional roller coaster.
The mood was tense based on early exit polls that showed a strong Kerry performance in key states, but the long faces brightened when the actual vote counting showed the exit polls were wrong.
Bush and his top aides stayed up almost all night monitoring the results in Ohio and a few other close states, then got a few hours sleep after sending out White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card for a preliminary declaration of victory almost at dawn.
After Kerry phoned with his concession, Bush hugged staff members, visited Vice President Dick Cheney and they congratulated each other. -Reuters
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