I promised you 4 years ago that I would never lie to you. So, I can't stand here tonight and say it doesn't hurt.
The people of the United States have made their choice, and, of course, I accept that decision but, I have to admit, not with the same enthusiasm that I accepted the decision 4 years ago. I have a deep appreciation of the system, however, that lets people make the free choice about who will lead them for the next 4 years.
About an hour ago I called Governor Reagan in California, and I told him that I congratulated him for a fine victory. I look forward to working closely with him during the next few weeks. We'll have a very fine transition period. I told him I wanted the best one in history. And I then sent him this telegram, and I'll read it to you. "It's now apparent that the American people have chosen you as the next President. I congratulate you and pledge to you our fullest support and cooperation in bringing about an orderly transition of government in the weeks ahead. My best wishes are with you and your family as you undertake the responsibilities that lie before you." And I signed it Jimmy Carter.
I have been blessed as only a few people ever have, to help shape the destiny of this Nation. In that effort I've had your faithful support. In some ways I've been the most fortunate of Presidents, because I've had the daily aid of a wise man and a good man at my side, in my judgment the best Vice President anybody ever had, Fritz Mondale.
I've not achieved all I set out to do; perhaps no one ever does. But we have faced the tough issues. We've stood for and we've fought for and we have achieved some very important goals for our country. These efforts will not end with this administration. The effort must go on. Nor will the progress that we have made be lost when we leave office. The great principles that have guided this Nation since its very founding will continue to guide America through the challenges of the future.
This has been a long and hard-fought campaign, as you well know. But we must now come together as a united and a unified people to solve the problems that are still before us, to meet the challenges of a new decade. And I urge all of you to join in with me in a sincere and fruitful effort to support my successor when he undertakes this great responsibility as President of the greatest nation on Earth.
Ours is a special country, because our vast economic and military strength give us a special responsibility for seeking solutions to the problems that confront the world. But our influence will always be greater when we live up to those principles of freedom, of justice, of human rights, for all people.
God has been good to me, and God has been good to this country, and I'm truly thankful. I'm thankful for having been able to serve you in this capacity, thankful for the successes that we have had, thankful that to the end you were with me and every good thing that I tried to do.
There's an old Yiddish proverb that I've often thought of in the days and months that I've held this office. It says simply, "God gives burdens; also shoulders." In all the days and months when I have served you and served this country, you've readily given me your shoulders, your faith, and your prayers. No man could ask any more of his friends.
I've wanted to serve as President because I love this country and because I love the people of this Nation. Finally, let me say that I am disappointed tonight, but I have not lost either love.
Thank you very much.