The losing candidate gets in a final word
Suddenly, the presidential campaign is over, and its end is marked with the concession speech from the losing candidate. It is the last roundup.
Concession speeches are replete with all of the appropriate pieties and cliches expressing good will, congratulations on a well-fought campaign to the winner, ending with a call for national unity.
Sometimes — but rarely — they contain a little humor, as in the wake of the 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt landslide when Gov. Alfred Landon — who carried only Maine and Vermont — said his situation was like that of the Kansas farmer who was standing in his yard laughing after a tornado destroyed his home and barn.
“His wife said, ‘What are you laughing at, you darned old fool?’ ” Landon said. The farmer’s reply: “The completeness of it all.”
Perhaps the most poignant was uttered by Adlai Stevenson in 1952 after being defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“Someone asked me as I came in, down the street, how I felt, and I was reminded of a story that a fellow-townsman of ours used to tell — Abraham Lincoln,” Stevenson said. “They asked him howhe felt once after an unsuccessful election. He said he felt like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark. He said he was too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh.”
What must be a record for concession speech brevity was that of Thomas E. Dewey after being beaten by Harry S. Truman in 1948. He simply told reporters: “It’s been grand fun, boys and girls. Good luck.”