McCain – I will support Obama

John McCain, the Republican candidate in the US presidential race, has conceded defeat less than 25 minutes after California and Virginia declared for his opponent Barack Obama, saying he would “do everything in his power” to support the new president.

Mr McCain said his opponent’s success, in what had been a long and difficult campaign, “commands my respect for his ability and perseverance”.

He admitted Mr Obama had won the election by “inspiring the hopes of many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of a president”.

He continued: “The American people have spoken and they have spoken clearly,” adding he had already telephoned Mr Obama to congratulate him on winning an historic election of “special significance particularly for African Americans”.

The defeated Republican nominee also asked his supporters to join him by backing the president elect, saying he would “do everything in his power” to help Mr Obama tackle the challenges facing the US economy at home and on the international arena.

Mr McCain also hailed the way in which the US had moved on from the bigotry of the previous century, adding there was “no better evidence of this than the election of the country’s first black president”.

“Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this the greatest nation on earth,” he added.

Mr McCain said Mr Obama had “achieved a great thing for himself and his country” and offered his condolences that his grandmother had not lived to see her grandson elected to the presidency.

The Republican added: “These are difficult times for our country and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

“I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulate him but also our offer him our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to overcome our differences to ensure our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world and leave our children and grandchildren in stronger, better country than we inherited.

“Whatever our differences we are fellow Americans, and please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.”