Hillary Clinton was all smiles when she emerged earlier today in New York City to a standing ovation from supporters awaiting her concession speech. But the pain and disappointment were clear when Clinton told the room and millions of shell-shocked Americans across the country that she was sorry that she could not deliver a victory for them. “Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country,” she said. “I hope that he will be a successful President for all Americans.”
Clinton, who at times seemed on the verge of tears, tried to strike a conciliatory tone between herself and her opponent in the most gruesome election in recent memory. “Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead,” she said. “This is not the outcome that we wanted and we worked so hard for, and I am sorry that we did not win this election.”
As Bill Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine looked on, she spoke of her disappointment, and the disappointment of women everywhere, of not becoming the first female president in U.S. history. “I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now,” she said. “To all the women and especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.”
Much like her campaign, Clinton’s speech emphasized unity and the importance of bringing together a country that was more divided than even she realized. “We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone,” she said, “for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people and people with disabilities—for everyone.”
Clinton also sent out a warning flare to a country that now finds itself with an unpredictable leader who, through his rhetoric, has managed to rumble the very foundations of its democracy. “Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power,” she said. “And we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things: the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too. And we must defend them.” It was the closest she came in the speech to calling out Trump for his divisiveness and expressing disappointment in the American people for their choice, something some pundits called on her to do.
The speech served as a surreal end to the political career of a woman many had easily envisioned occupying the Oval Office for the next four years. Instead, Clinton’s future remains uncertain. She will now likely work alongside her husband for the Clinton Global Initiative, but there is really no telling what her role in public life will be. Clinton is notoriously private, and there’s a good chance she’ll retreat into the background.
Watch her full speech below.