A brief history of the concession phone call

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WHAT do you say to a guy who just crushed you in 49 states? Not much, apparently.

“I didn’t do a phone call, I just sent him a telegram,” said George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic nominee who was recalling the election night bloodletting President Richard M. Nixon inflicted on him 38 Novembers ago. His place in the pantheon of political losers assured, Mr. McGovern could not bring himself to make the customary call to congratulate the freshly re-elected (and about-to-be disgraced) president. “I was somewhat wiped out by the extent of the landslide,” said Mr. McGovern, now 88, speaking on a cellphone from Montana, where he was visiting his daughter. “So I figured that would be the easier way to do it.”...

“The American people, by a great plurality, have conferred upon you the highest honor in their gift,” Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Woodrow Wilson in 1912. “I congratulate you thereon.”

“The people have made their choice and I congratulate you,” Adlai Stevenson wrote to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. “That you may be the servant and guardian of peace and make the vale of trouble a door of hope is my earnest prayer. Best Wishes, Adlai Stevenson.”...

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