John McCain photo

Remarks Announcing the Suspension of Presidential Campaign Activities

March 09, 2000

We knew when we began this campaign that ours was a difficult challenge. Last Tuesday, that challenge became considerably more difficult as a majority of Republican voters made clear that their preference for President is Governor Bush. I respect their decision and I am truly grateful for the distinct privilege of even being considered for the highest office in this, the greatest nation in the history of mankind.

Therefore, I announce today, on this fine Arizona morning, and in this beautiful place, that I am no longer an active candidate for my party's nomination for President. I congratulate Governor Bush and wish him and him family well. He very well may become the next President of the United States. That is an honor accorded to very few, and it is such a great responsibility that he deserves the best wishes of every American. He certainly has mine.

I am suspending my campaign so that Cindy and I can take some time to reflect on our recent experiences, and determine how we can best continue to serve the country, and help bring about the changes to the practices and institutions of our great democracy that are the purpose of our campaign. For we believe these changes are essential to ensuring the continued success of the American experiment, and keeping America in this new century as bright a beacon of hope for mankind as it was in the last.

I hoped our campaign would be a force for change in the Republican Party, and I believe we have indeed set a course that will ultimately prevail in making our party as big as the country we serve. Millions of Americans have rallied to our banner, and their support not just honors me, but has ignited the cause of reform, a cause far greater and more important than the ambitions of any single candidate. I love my party, it is my home. Ours is the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan. That is good company for any American to keep. And it is a distinct privilege to serve the same cause that those great Americans dedicated their lives to.

But I am also dedicated to the necessary cause of reform, and I will never walk away from a fight for what I know is right and just for our country. As I said throughout the campaign, what is good for my country, is good for my party. Should our party ever abandon this principle, the American people will rightly abandon us, and we will surely slip into the mists of history, deserving the allegiance of none.

So, I will take our crusade back to the United States Senate, and I will keep fighting to give the government back to the people; to keep our promises to young and old alike by paying our debts, saving Social Security and Medicare, and reforming a tax code that benefits the powerful few at the expense of the many. And with your help, my fellow Americans, we will keep trying to force open doors where there are walls to your full participation in the great enterprises of our democracy; be they walls of cynicism, or intolerance, or walls raised by a self-interested elite who would exclude your voice from their highest councils of our government.

I want to take a final moment to speak to all those who joined our party to support our campaign, many of whom voted in this election for the first time. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your support means more to me than I can ever say. But I ask from you one last promise. Promise me that you will never give up, that you will continue your service in the worthy cause of revitalizing our democracy. Our crusade will never accomplish all its goals if your voices fall silent in our national debate. You are and always will be the best thing about this campaign, and the best hope for our country's future success. Stay in this fight with us, we need your service as much as ever.

Millions of Americans over the years have by their example showed us that America and her causes are worth dying for. Surely she is worth living for. That is what I ask all of Americans who found in our campaign an expression for their patriotism. I am so proud of you, and so grateful for your company. I have been in my country's service since I was seventeen years old. I neither know nor want any other life, for I can find no greater honor than service. You served your country in this campaign by fighting for the causes that will sustain America's greatness. Keep fighting, my friends, keep fighting. America needs you.

Thank you, my friends, thank you so much for helping me remember what it means to be a public servant in this, the most blessed, and most important nation on earth. It has been the greatest privilege of my life.

John McCain, Remarks Announcing the Suspension of Presidential Campaign Activities Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project