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After refusing to concede last night, no one knew what to expect from Presidential Candidate John Kerry today. Nobody wanted a repeat of 2000 when Al Gore demanded recounts and alleged that voter irregularities had kept him from winning the electoral college vote — dragging out the election for over a month and causing many supporters to treat the president as an imposter throughout his first term. This time, though, Kerry acknowledged that “we cannot win this election.” His phrasing was interesting – he conceded “fate.” Certainly, his decision acknowledged reality — there were far more votes separating his total from Bush’s than there were potential votes for him among the provisional and absentee ballots.

Kerry spoke from Faneuil Hall in Boston, the same place where he launched his campaign last year. Kerry emphasized the need for national unity and healing. Reports from his phone call conversation with the president indicate that Kerry told the president that the country was “too divided” and then added (getting in his final jab) “We really have to do something about it.” Bush told Kerry that he had been an “admirable, honorable opponent” — a statement that seriously damaged Bush’s reputation for authenticity but reinforcing his essential kindness; his mother will be proud of his manners.

Kerry’s remarks in his concession speech evidenced the emotion that was so obviously absent in previous public appearances. He was obviously moved, almost to tears, in facing his supporters. No one could remain unmoved at seeing a man acknowledge such a resounding defeat; Kerry lost not just the election, but caused his party to lose four seats in the Senate — even the minority leader — and saw the Republican majority in the House strengthened as well. It was not a good night for the Democrats who must face how seriously they are out-of-step with the heartland of America and how overwhelmingly they have misjudged — and insulted — America’s values. In addition, there was no evidence that Senator Kerry realized the damage that he has inflicted on the nation’s reputation abroad. He was, however, gracious in his rhetoric providing the kind of ceremonial transition to the second term that is traditional in America and that was so sorely lacking in 2000.

While pundits talked about President Bush’s mandate and Vice President Cheney introduced him to his victory celebration as the man who brought out record numbers of voters and achieved an historic victory, Bush, himself, chose to emphasize his “duty to serve all Americans.” He spoke specifically to those who voted against him, asking for their support and trust. He talked about his new term as an “opportunity to reach out to the whole nation” and vowed to work and earn the trust of Kerry supporters. Immediately, commentators began discussing the need to “get everybody under the tent.”

Clearly, one of the biggest challenges that the president will face in his second term is to walk that fine line of acting on his mandate and bringing the nation together. The president promised to “uphold our deepest values of family and faith.” He also promised that the United States military would bring “justice to the enemy” and “honor to America.” In achieving those promises, he will alienate those voters who wanted “anybody but Bush” because those two promises embody all that those voters find despicable about the president.

In his speech at the victory celebration at the Reagan Building in Washington, President Bush mentioned an old maxim: “Do not pray for tasks equal to your power; instead pray for power equal to your tasks.” As he walks that fine line between the two promises that he made, he will need lots of prayer for power equal to that task!

Concerned Women for America is pleased that for the next four years our nation will have a president who has been unwavering in his support for pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family policies. We are gratified that the nation has given him a solid mandate — with 51 percent of the popular vote, Mr. Cheney said that he achieved the largest number of votes in a presidential election in the nation’s history. He needs to recognize that the moral values voters gave him that mandate and that while he, of necessity, must reach out in kindness and generosity to the Left, he must stay focused on his own agenda and not allow himself to be pushed to achieve the Left’s agenda.

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