Speech By: Martha Coakley - Senate Candidate
Title: I Concede
Date: January 19, 2010
Location: Boston Massachusetts
Occasion: Loss of Senate Special Election
Length (minutes): 8:21
Video Posted: YouTube
Martha Coakley wasn’t supposed to have to give this speech. Unfortunately for her, she did. Scott Brown did 66 public events, during the six week special election campaign, or, 11 a week. Coakley did just 19 events during the same stretch, or just over three a week. While she apparently recognized she would lose at the end, the personal disappointment of seeing a lofty goal denied because of some internal flaw - well, actually, that really is the stuff of ancient Greek tragedy.
Coakley’s remarks were prepared - she keeps looking down at the podium and moving something with her hands - which is always a good thing in a tough situation like this.
In my earlier post on concession speeches, I detailed the elements of a successful concession -
- Announce you have called the winner to concede, and wish that person luck in office.
- Thank your family. If your campaign has been at all active, it has truly put a burden on them.
- Thank your supporters for all their hard work.
- Mention how you much you appreciate the opportunity to represent your party, and to meet as many voters as you did.
- Say thank you once more, then leave the stage.
Although in a slightly different order, it’s a formula Coakley stuck to with little variation.
She starts out with a weak attempt at humor - “I don’t know, somebody told me there was a crowd out here.”
Then she goes immediately to the point of her talk - “I just got off the phone with Scott Brown and I’ve offered him my congratulations, and my best wishes on his victory tonight.”
Despite her obvious personal disappointment, she then shows a moment of true class - “I told him Mr. Brown, you’ve got two lovely daughters, which he does.”
With only this slight variation from the formula I suggested, she thanks her supporters first - “You poured your hearts and souls into this campaign. I want to say an incredibly sincere thank you.”
Next she turns - literally - to thank the family standing up there with her, husband Tom, her sisters, and nieces and nephews. She talks about Tom’s hard work on the campaign trail, and, in a very human aside, about the family members who couldn’t really comprehend what the campaign was about, their two dogs.
She then offers thanks to a few very special volunteers in her campaign, President Obama, Former President Clinton, and a very personal thank you to Vicki Kennedy, widow of the Senator whose seat Coakley had hoped to win.
Finally, she gets to the fourth element of the formula, talking about the ideas and issues she campaigned on, and which are philosophical underpinnings of her party. She talks about meeting voters who share those views.
Then, if there is any failure in her concession, she blows the conclusion. She quotes from the final passage of the most famous speech of the man whose seat she had hoped to assume. That it was his concession speech, in the only race he ever lost, makes the failure more telling.
She quotes it this way - “We will always remember our terrific Senator Ted Kennedy and his words - the work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.”
If this is the failure of the speech writer, then that person should be ashamed. There are far too many sources readily available on the internet where the correct language is posted. I have seen them.
Perhaps though, it was just the failure of mist-clouded eyes to properly read what had correctly been transcribed. I’d like to think that’s what it was.
For the record, here’s how Senator Ted Kennedy ended his only concession speech:
“For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
From The Bully Pulpit - Tom