Senator Kerry: "Congratulations, Mr President!"

President Bush won four more years in the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>White House on Wednesday, pocketing a public concession from Democrat John Kerry that closed out a loud and long campaign fought over the war on terror and the economy.

"We cannot win this election," the Massachusetts senator said in an emotional campaign farewell.

In an appearance in Faneuil Hall in Boston, where he launched his quest for the White House more than a year ago, Kerry said he had telephoned Bush to congratulate him on his victory.

"We talked about the danger of division in our country and the need the desperate need for unity, for finding common ground and coming together," Kerry said. "Today, I hope we can begin the healing," he said.

Bush was to make his victory speech in Washington after Kerry concluded, says ABC News.

Senator Kerry accepted that he could not win the crucial state of Ohio, on which the outcome of the election hinged.

Despite a close race there he said: "The outcome should be decided by voters not a protracted legal process."

With a hoarse voice, which cracked with emotion, he told supporters: "I wouldn’t give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail.

"I wish – you do not know how much – I could have brought this race home to you."

After an election which split the country, he said: “Earlier today I spoke to &to=http:// ' target=_blank>President Bush and offered him and (First Lady) Laura our congratulations on their victory, reports Scotsman.

According to the Age, advisers later said the campaign just wanted one last look at the uncounted ballots in Ohio, where Bush held a 136,000-vote advantage. The state's 20 electoral votes sealed victory for Bush.

In 2000, Bush sweated out a 36-day recount before a Supreme Court ruling awarded him &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Florida and the White House.

Kerry spent the campaign's final weeks going after Bush with a steady stream of criticism over his decision to wage war in Iraq and his push for costly tax cuts the Democrat said were irresponsible.

The four-term Massachusetts senator worked to tap into voters' pessimistic frame of mind, evident in exit polls, which showed them worried about new terrorist attacks, job losses and the war in Iraq.

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