The los­ing can­di­date gets in a fi­nal word

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen THEN AND NOW fras­mussen@balt­sun.com

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.”

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