Today In History: Al Gore Concedes Presidency To George W. Bush
Today in the year 2000, presidential hopeful and Vice President Al Gore conceded defeat to George W. Bush, then Texas Governor. It was a bitter moment for American liberals. It was also a decision that would be hotly contested for a long time afterwards, with many people accusing Bush of winning Florida, the deciding state, through political chicanery. Gore’s decision came on the heels of weeks of legal grappling over the Flordia vote and subsequent recounts.
Gore, from his office next to the White House, addressed the country on television. He said that although he did not agree with the Supreme Court decision that granted Bush the presidency, he wanted Americans to come together. “Partisan rancor must now be put aside.”
He went on, “I accept the finality of the outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”
Unhappily, Gore had won a conclusive victory in the popular vote, but couldn’t take teh Electoral College. He had a popular vote lead of 500,000 ballots on Bush, though he was five Electoral College votes from the Oval Office.
It was a bitter defeat, but Gore says he phoned Bush to offer his congratulations. “I promised that I wouldn’t call him back this time,” said Gore of a call he made to tell Bush he was going to concede. Gore did call back half an hour later, to congratulate him.
“I’ve seen America in this campaign and I like what I see,” said Gore of his plans post-campaign. “It’s worth fighting for – and that’s a fight I’ll never stop.”
An hour after Gore’s concession speech, Bush appeared for his first address to the nation as the president-elect. He said that the “nation must rive above a house divided.” He went on, “I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation.”
Bush took office on January 20, 2001. He and Vice President Dick Cheney were re-elected in 2004 over John Kerry and John Edwards.
Gore recommitted his public life to conservationism. He is perhaps now equally strongly associated with his documentary film An Inconvenient Truth as he is with Bill Clinton.
Bush went on to lead what was, at the time, one of the most controversial presidential administrations in American history. The Bush administration continues to be criticized for embroiling the nation in costly, dangerous and even criminal military engagements around the world, enacting devastating environmental policies, vastly extending the influence of the Executive branch and rolling back civil liberties.