Thank you so much. Thank you all.
Well, this isn't exactly the party I'd planned, but I sure like the company.
I want to start today by saying how grateful I am to all of you - to everyone who poured your hearts and your hopes into this campaign, who drove for miles and lined the streets waving homemade signs, who scrimped and saved to raise money, who knocked on doors and made calls, who talked and sometimes argued with your friends and neighbors, who e-mailed and contributed online, who invested so much in our common enterprise, to the moms and dads who came to our events, who lifted their little girls and little boys on their shoulders and whispered in their ears, "See, you can be anything you want to be."
To the young people like 13 year-old Ann Riddle from Mayfield, Ohio who had been saving for two years to go to Disney World, and decided to use her savings instead to travel to Pennsylvania with her mom and volunteer there as well. To the veterans and the childhood friends, to New Yorkers and Arkansans who traveled across the country and telling anyone who would listen why you supported me.
To all those women in their 80s and their 90s born before women could vote who cast their votes for our campaign. I've told you before about Florence Steen of South Dakota, who was 88 years old, and insisted that her daughter bring an absentee ballot to her hospice bedside. Her daughter and a friend put an American flag behind her bed and helped her fill out the ballot. She passed away soon after, and under state law, her ballot didn't count. But her daughter later told a reporter, "My dad's an ornery old cowboy, and he didn't like it when he heard mom's vote wouldn't be counted. I don't think he had voted in 20 years. But he voted in place of my mom."
To all those who voted for me, and to whom I pledged my utmost, my commitment to you and to the progress we seek is unyielding. You have inspired and touched me with the stories of the joys and sorrows that make up the fabric of our lives and you have humbled me with your commitment to our country.
Eighteen million of you from all walks of life - women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-American and Caucasian, rich, poor and middle class, gay and straight - you have stood strong with me. And I will continue to stand strong with you, every time, every place, and every way that I can. The dreams we share are worth fighting for.
Remember - we fought for the single mom with a young daughter, juggling work and school, who told me, "I'm doing it all to better myself for her." We fought for the woman who grabbed my hand, and asked me, "What are you going to do to make sure I have health care?" and began to cry because even though she works three jobs, she can't afford insurance. We fought for the young man in the Marine Corps T-shirt who waited months for medical care and said, "Take care of my buddies over there and then, will you please help take care of me?" We fought for all those who've lost jobs and health care, who can't afford gas or groceries or college, who have felt invisible to their president these last seven years.
I entered this race because I have an old-fashioned conviction: that public service is about helping people solve their problems and live their dreams. I've had every opportunity and blessing in my own life - and I want the same for all Americans. Until that day comes, you will always find me on the front lines of democracy - fighting for the future.
The way to continue our fight now - to accomplish the goals for which we stand - is to take our energy, our passion, our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States.
Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him, and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.
I have served in the Senate with him for four years. I have been in this campaign with him for 16 months. I have stood on the stage and gone toe-to-toe with him in 22 debates. I have had a front row seat to his candidacy, and I have seen his strength and determination, his grace and his grit.
In his own life, Barack Obama has lived the American Dream. As a community organizer, in the state senate, as a United States Senator - he has dedicated himself to ensuring the dream is realized. And in this campaign, he has inspired so many to become involved in the democratic process and invested in our common future.
Now when I started this race, I intended to win back the White House, and make sure we have a president who puts our country back on the path to peace, prosperity, and progress. And that's exactly what we're going to do by ensuring that Barack Obama walks through the doors of the Oval Office on January 20, 2009.
I understand that we all know this has been a tough fight. The Democratic Party is a family, and it's now time to restore the ties that bind us together and to come together around the ideals we share, the values we cherish, and the country we love.
We may have started on separate journeys - but today, our paths have merged. And we are all heading toward the same destination, united and more ready than ever to win in November and to turn our country around because so much is at stake.
We all want an economy that sustains the American Dream, the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford that gas and those groceries and still have a little left over at the end of the month. An economy that lifts all of our people and ensures that our prosperity is broadly distributed and shared.
We all want a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable so that parents no longer have to choose between care for themselves or their children or be stuck in dead-end jobs simply to keep their insurance. This isn't just an issue for me - it is a passion and a cause - and it is a fight I will continue until every single American is insured - no exceptions, no excuses.
We all want an America defined by deep and meaningful equality - from civil rights to labor rights, from women's rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families.
We all want to restore America's standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq and once again lead by the power of our values, and to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming.
You know, I've been involved in politics and public life in one way or another for four decades. During those forty years, our country has voted ten times for President. Democrats won only three of those times. And the man who won two of those elections is with us today.
We made tremendous progress during the '90s under a Democratic President, with a flourishing economy, and our leadership for peace and security respected around the world. Just think how much more progress we could have made over the past 40 years if we had a Democratic president. Think about the lost opportunities of these past seven years - on the environment and the economy, on health care and civil rights, on education, foreign policy and the Supreme Court. Imagine how far we could've come, how much we could've achieved if we had just had a Democrat in the White House.
We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much.
Now the journey ahead will not be easy. Some will say we can't do it. That it's too hard. That we're just not up to the task. But for as long as America has existed, it has been the American way to reject "can't do" claims, and to choose instead to stretch the boundaries of the possible through hard work, determination, and a pioneering spirit.
It is this belief, this optimism, that Senator Obama and I share, and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard.
So today, I am standing with Senator Obama to say: "Yes we can."