As Prepared for Delivery May 20, 2006
Class of 2006 — fellow survivors of November 2, 2004. I’m happy to be here at your beautiful school, which had my admiration long before that night when the country wondered whether I would win — and whether you would vote.
Your Web site has a profile of a very smart math major in the class of 2006. Joe Neilson. He said that once, after a statistics course here, he realized “the probability of any event in our lives is about zero.” “I probably spent a week,” Joe said, “annoying my friends by saying: “What are the odds?” Well Joe, what were the odds that we’d be linked by those long hours — not that I keep track — 560 days ago? Like everyone that night, I admired the tenacity of Kenyon students. But what you did went far beyond tenacity.
My wife, Teresa, is honored by the degree you grant her, today. But she’s also here to honor you because when you grow up in a dictatorship as she did, when you don’t get a chance to vote until you’re 31, when you see your father voting for the first time in his seventies, you know what a privilege it is to cast a ballot.
Through that long night, we in Massachusetts watched you in Gambier. We were honored. We were inspired. We were determined not to concede until our team had checked every possibility. If you could stay up all night to vote, we could certainly stay up that next day to make sure your vote would count. In the end, we couldn’t close the gap. We would have given anything to have fulfilled your hopes.
And I also thank those who cast a ballot for my opponent. I wish all Republicans had been just like you at Kenyon — informed, willing to stand up for your views — and only 10 percent of the vote. Actually, all of you, through your patience, and good humor showed Americans that politics matters to young people. And so I really do thank every student here. Read more