Thank you all for coming today.
I want to begin today by speaking directly to those who have supported my campaign for president from the very beginning, those who joined us along the way, those who were with us at the end, and most importantly, the people of New Mexico.
It is with great pride, understanding and acceptance that I am ending my campaign for President of the United States.
It was my hope that all of you would first hear this news from me, and not a news organization. But unfortunately, as with too many things in our world today, it's the ending of something that garners the most intense interest and speculation.
It has been an exhilarating and humbling year -- an experience I will treasure and never forget. The voters of this country -- and particularly of the early primary states where I focused my campaign -- tested me in ways I have never been tested. We had 200 debates! Actually, it was only 24 but it sure felt like 200. And, I believe we made our case to the people.
We made our case for change -- guided by an experienced hand.
We made our case for a foreign policy of principle and realism. Of rebuilding alliances through diplomacy and unflagging support for democracy.
We made our case for rebuilding this country with a laser like focus on economic growth, creating quality jobs like we've done in New Mexico, investing in education, science, math and the arts and providing universal health care.
And we made our case for bringing people together -- as I have done for my entire career-Democrats, Independents, Republicans -- to break the gridlock in Washington and get things done for the American people.
I knew from the beginning that this would be an uphill climb. When I entered the campaign, it was clear that we, as Democrats, had the most talented field of candidates in my lifetime running to change the direction of our country. And in the end, one of them will.
Despite overwhelming financial and political odds, I am proud of the campaign we waged and the influence we had on the issues that matter most to the future of this country.
A year ago, we were the only major campaign calling for the removal of all of our troops within a year's time from Iraq. We were the only campaign calling for a complete reform of education in this country, including the scrapping of No Child Left Behind. And we were the campaign with the most aggressive clean energy plan and the most ambitious standards for reducing global warming.
Now, all of the remaining candidates are coming to our point of view. I am confident that the next President of the United States will implement much of what we've been urging for the last twelve months, and our nation and world will be the better for it.
This has been a remarkable process. I have learned I don't have all the answers. Not every solution can be found inside the Beltway.
I have been grilled in over a thousand forums and town meetings, pressed on my views, my accomplishments, my ideas and policy prescriptions for this nation.
From the farm towns of Iowa to the mountain towns of New Hampshire, from the South Carolina shore to the glittering cities of Nevada, I traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, faced tens of thousands of citizens. They shared their hopes, their ideas, their problems and questions with me and -- boy, there were some tough questions. I gave them the best I had -- and I gave this race the best I had.
We raised over $22 million, with 68,000 donors. We built a multi-state organization of hundreds of staff and thousands of volunteers. We had organized steering committees in 36 states and are on the ballot in 42 states. And we worked harder than anyone. Boy, did we work hard. And we did our best. And that's all we can expect from each other.
Running for president brings out the best in everyone who graces the stage, and I have learned much from the other candidates running. They have all brought great talents and abilities to the campaign.
Senator Biden's passion and intellect are remarkable.
Senator Dodd is the epitome of selfless dedication to public service and the Democratic Party.
Senator Edwards is a singular voice for the most downtrodden and forgotten among us.
Senator Obama is a bright light of hope and optimism at a time of great national unease, yet he is also grounded in thoughtful wisdom beyond his years.
Senator Clinton's poise in the face of adversity is matched only by her lifetime of achievement and deep understanding of the challenges we face.
Representative Kucinich is a man of great decency and dedication who will faithfully soldier on no matter how great the odds.
And all of us in the Democratic Party owe Senator Mike Gravel our appreciation for his brave leadership during the national turmoil of Vietnam.
I am honored to have shared the stage with each of these Democrats. And I am enormously grateful to all of my supporters who chose to stand with me despite so many other candidates of accomplishment and potential.
Now that my time in this national campaign has come to an end, I would urge those who supported my candidacy to take a long and thoughtful look at the remaining Democrats. They are all strong contenders who each, in their own way, would bring desperately needed change to our country. All I ask is that you make your own, independent choice with the same care and dedication to this country that you honored me with during this campaign.
At this time, I will not endorse of any candidate.
And all I ask of the candidates is that they do not resort to personal attacks to win the nomination. Our country and our party deserve better than that. I have said from the beginning that we must avoid attacking each other and I continue to believe that to this day.
This campaign is not about those of us who ran or are still running. It is about the American people. Disagree on policy, but respect the personal privacy and personal integrity of the others running. To do otherwise could result in another four to eight years of more of the same. And that would be biggest tragedy of all.
Now I am returning to a job that I love, serving a state that I cherish and doing the work of the people I was elected to serve. As I have always said, I am the luckiest man I know. I am married to my high school sweetheart. I live in a place called the Land of Enchantment. I have the best job in the world. And I just got to run for president of the United States.
It doesn't get any better than that.
So, the time has come to end my quest and come home to tackle the challenges before us in New Mexico. Our Legislature starts next week and I intend to put my full efforts behind our number one priority -- extending health insurance to every New Mexican by the end of my term. So, to all New Mexico Legislators and Citizens who participate in the public process -- I have a message -- I am back!
I will continue my international missions to advance the cause of human rights and democracy. I will enjoy riding my horse, again. I will work hard to make Tom Udall the next U.S. Senator from New Mexico.
I'd like to finish this afternoon with the most important part ... saying an appropriate thank you to all of you who supported this campaign.
There are so many of you -- thousands of supporters and donors who made my dream your dreams and supported my campaign with your own extraordinary efforts. Let me just name a few:
Ed Romero -- Finance Chair
Dave Contarino -- Campaign Manager
Amanda Cooper -- Deputy Campaign Manager
Mike Stratton -- my senior political advisor
The New Mexico Roadrunners hundreds of them -- who gave their time, and their hard work, to my campaign.
And my hard-working campaign staff.
I am an optimist. I am positive about this country and our ability to tackle the great challenges ahead. The last year, I have learned so much, but I have learned, most of all, that the people of this country are a sincere and caring people. They are also thoughtful and deadly serious about the choice before them as they consider these candidates. So, it is with an optimistic spirit that I withdraw my candidacy for the Presidency today. I believe in the American people and their wisdom to make the right choice in the weeks and months ahead.
Thank you. God Bless you and God bless America.