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Washington D.C. — (AP) - President Bush won four more years in the White House on Wednesday and pledged to "fight this war on terror with every resource of our national power." John Kerry conceded defeat rather than back an election challenge in make-or-break Ohio.
"I will need your support and I will work to earn it," the president said in an appeal to the 55 million Americans who voted for his Democratic rival at the end of their long campaign.
The president spoke before thousands of cheering supporters less than an hour after his vanquished rival conceded defeat.
Bush, saying America has spoken, said he is "humbled" by the trust and confidence of Americans.
(A second term is a) new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. ... one country, one Constitution and with one future that binds us.
He said he has a duty to serve all Americans, and that he'll do his best to fulfill that duty every day.
Bush told a cheering crowd in Washington that John Kerry had called with congratulations. He said it was a "really good phone call." He said Kerry was "very gracious." Bush said Kerry had waged a "spirited campaign" -- and that Kerry and his supporters "can be proud."
Bush vowed that in a second term, he will help what he called the "emerging democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan." He said he'll see that they become stronger and defend their freedom -- so that U-S servicemen and women can "come home with the honor they have earned."
Bush also vowed to reform what he called an "outdated tax code" -- and to "strengthen Social Security for the next generation." He said he'd make the nation's public schools "all they can be." And he promised to "uphold the deepest values of family and faith."
Concluding his acceptance speech, Bush said he sees a "great day coming" for the country -- and that he's "eager for the work ahead."
Bush described his second term as a "new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation." He said he presides over "one country" with "one Constitution" -- and with "one future that binds us."
He said the campaign has ended -- but that the nation goes forward "with confidence and faith."
After a long night of poll watching and an hour or two of sleep, Bush was in the Oval Office on Wednesday when he got the call he was waiting for: Sen. John Kerry was on the line to concede.
The president had hoped to give his victory speech much earlier, but the election stayed close through the night and the Democrats indicated they might keep fighting for Ohio. Then Kerry conceded.
Bush was in the Oval Office at 11:02 a.m. EST when he was notified that Kerry was on the phone. After the call, Bush hugged senior members of his staff, including White House chief of staff Andy Card and Joe Hagin, deputy chief of staff. He walked down the hall where he and Vice President Dick Cheney congratulated each other. The president returned to his private residence to talk with first lady Laura Bush and then left for a workout, McClellan said.
When Bush went to bed about 5 a.m., it wasn't clear he had won but he sent his chief of staff, Andrew Card, to a party of GOP supporters two blocks from the White House to declare victory anyway, based on the campaign's conviction that the president had won not only Ohio, but Iowa and New Mexico - also states that had yet to be definitively called.
The president then awoke at 7 a.m. and arrived in the Oval Office about an hour later with his father, the former president. He visited with his senior staff and made congratulatory calls, including one to Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who won his race for the Senate.
"Now's the time to get it done," McClellan said Bush told DeMint in a reference to the president's second-term agenda.
Bush, who plans to travel to Camp David for the weekend, monitored returns throughout the night from the White House residence, surrounded by friends and family. He went to bed near dawn as Card traveled the two blocks to address GOP supporters gathered at a downtown federal office building.
"We are convinced that President Bush has won re-election with at least 286 Electoral College votes," Card told the weary, cheering troops.
Re-election spares Bush a couple of indignities: He will not repeat his father's failure to earn a second term in the Oval Office and he will not become the nation's first wartime president to be booted from office.
But keeping the raft of promises he made in Campaign 2004 - many left over from Campaign 2000 - will require significant resolve.
Even before Election Day, Bush had scheduled a Cabinet meeting for Thursday to get his administration working on his most important domestic objectives: simplify the tax code, allow younger workers to invest some of their Social Security withholdings in the stock market, and limit medical liability awards. He has pledged a full-court press with Congress, where a continued GOP lock on the majority would make getting his wishes granted easier but not guaranteed.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)