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How to concede an election without really crying

America Votes Maryland

A voter fills out a provisional ballot by hand for the midterm elections at a polling place in Annapolis, Md., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Candidates for political office never need help with victory speeches: They have those prepared months in advance.

But woe to those candidates who lose. Often they are just winging it, trying to be gracious after a devastating defeat.

So for those who fall short this primary day, I offer this: a model concession speech, liberally borrowed from arguably the greatest in the past 45 years.

“Young and old we gave it all we had. We hit hard, but hit fair. We talked about the issues and the hard choices we face. But [victorious opponent] won and it is all over. To all my friends out there, you will see me leave tonight with one of [the victor’s] pesky campaign buttons that dogged me the whole race. Tomorrow I’m coming out as a soldier in [the victor’s] campaign. And to all my friends, I say, ‘Go and do likewise.’

We had a whole crop of fine candidates and a good hard campaign and things got a little loud and harsh sometimes. But there’s an old prayer for primaries which reads, ‘Oh, Lord, teach me to utter words which are gentle and tender, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.’ So whether you supported me or someone else, together, let us put aside harsh words and disappointment. Let us show all Marylanders that [victorious candidate] deserves to win in November.”

U.S. Rep. Morris K. Udall, D-Ariz., gave the original speech on July 14, 1976, in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Udall was conceding the Democratic presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter.

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