The President. Good morning. Last night President-elect Bush and Vice President Gore showed what is best about America. In this election, the American people were closely divided. The outcome was decided by a Supreme Court that was closely divided. But the essential unity of our Nation was reflected in the words and values of those who fought this great contest. I was proud of both men.
I pledged to President-elect Bush my efforts and the best efforts of every member of our administration for a smooth and successful transition.
I want to say I am profoundly grateful to Vice President Gore for 8 extraordinary years of partnership. Without his leadership, we could not have made the progress or reached the prosperity we now enjoy and pass on to the next administration.
I am also profoundly grateful to him for putting into words last night the feelings of all of us who disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision, but accepted it. And as he said, all of us have a responsibility to support Presidentelect Bush and to unite our country in the search for common ground.
I wish President-elect Bush well. Like him, I came to Washington as a Governor, eager to work with both Republicans and Democrats. And when we reached across party lines to forge a vital center, America was stronger at home and abroad.
The American people, however divided they were in this election, overwhelmingly want us to build on that vital center without rancor or personal attack.
I thank the Members of Congress from both parties who have pledged to work with the President-elect. They have also pledged to elect commonsense bipartisan election reforms so that the votes of all citizens can be easily cast and easily counted in future elections.
Finally, I want to thank the American people for their patience, passion, and patriotism throughout this extended election season. In the days of service left to me, I will do all I can to finish our remaining work with Congress and to help President-elect Bush get off to a good start.
As I've said so many times over the last year, our country has never before enjoyed so much peace and prosperity with so few internal crises and so little external threat. We have the opportunity to build the future of our dreams for our children, and every one of us has an obligation to work together to achieve it.
Thank you very much.
Q. Mr. President, what do you say to Democrats who want to run on the election issue in 2 years? Do you think that's a way to take back the House?
The President. Well, I think, first of all, the election 2 years from now is difficult to predict, and it will take whatever shape it does. But for right now, we're in a period where we've had an election, but we haven't had the Inauguration. We have to ensure a smooth and constructive transition, and all of us should ensure that we do our part to give the President-elect his chance to do this job. And I would hope— and I believe that my fellow Democrats would be willing to do that, and I hope they will. I hope they will set a good example by getting off to a good start and trying to unite the country.
Two years from now, what I hope will happen is that the honest differences that remain between the two parties will be the subject of a wholesome, vigorous, constructive debate, but that we will be moving further and further away from rancor. That, I think, is actually good for our party, because I think people do agree with us on the issues—on so many of the vital issues of the day.
But I don't think that now is the time to do anything other than follow Vice President Gore's lead. He spoke for all of us last night, and he did it eloquently and well. And President-elect Bush responded with generosity in kind, I thought, in his remarks. And I think we ought to use this opportunity to let the country come together and try to get the new administration off to a good start.
Q. Mr. President, will your successor continue the special relationship you've enjoyed with Britain, do you hope?
The President. I can't imagine anybody who wouldn't do that. I think he will, yes. Thank you.