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Bush now president-elect

The Associated Press

Five weeks after Election Day, George W.

Thursday, December 14, 2000

Five weeks after Election Day, George W. Bush at last laid claim to the presidency Wednesday night with a pledge to ”seize this moment” and deliver reconciliation and unity to a nation divided. Al Gore exited the tortuously close race, exhorting the nation to put aside partisan rancor and support its new chief executive.

”I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation,” America’s soon-to-be 43rd president told Americans in a nationally televised address from the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives. The Texas governor chose that setting, he said, because he had been able to work there with Democrats and Republicans alike.

”Our nation must rise above a house divided,” he said hopefully, echoing a reference from Scripture spoken by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. ”Our votes may differ, but not our hopes.”

Bush was preceded by Gore, who delivered his call for national unity in a televised concession.

”May God bless his stewardship of this country,” the vice president said of the Republican who vanquished him. Gore, who called Bush to concede shortly before his speech, joked that he had promised not to ”call him back this time,” a reference to the concession he phoned to Bush on Election Night and later withdrew.

In a televised address that lasted less than 10 minutes, Gore mixed words of unity with the unmistakable message that he felt wronged by the Supreme Court ruling that stopped the Florida recount and prompted his concession.

”While I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it,” he said. ”I accept the finality of this outcome.”

He allowed there would be time for disagreements down the road, but said ”now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us.”