She attempted to break the ultimate glass ceiling in politics after becoming the first ever female presidential candidate in history. But on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton‘s presidential bid came to a full stop as she addressed reporters and a small crowd of her closest aides to concede the election to President-Elect Donald Trump.
Urging Democrats to move forward, the 69-year-old former Secretary of State attempted to channel her supporter’s disillusion into action and urged for a peaceful transition of power even after a divisive and often dark campaign.
“I still believe in America and I always will,” she said.
“I count my blessings every single day that I am an American,” she added. “And I believe that if we stand together and work together with strength of our convictions, our best days are still ahead of us. Because you know I believe we are stronger together and we will go further together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that.”
“This loss hurts — but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it,” she continued. “Let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and more work to do.”
Clinton urged her voters to support Trump, reminding them that “our constitutional Democracy demands our participation — not just every four years but all the time.”
“I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans,” she said, of the 70-year-old President-Elect. “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
She was clearly emotional in the speech — but remained strong as she apologized to her supporters.
“I am incredibly honored and grateful to have had this chance,” she said. “I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too. This is not the outcome we wanted. And I’m sorry we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.”
“I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks — sometimes really painful ones,” she said, addressing younger voters. “You will have setbacks and sometimes painful ones too. This loss hurt,s but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
Clinton emphasized that time would help the country move forward. “I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too,” she said. “This is painful and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this: our campaign was never about one person or even about one election. It was about the country we love.”
She also spoke to her female supporters — many whom wore white to the polls in a nod to the suffragettes.
“For all the woman and especially the young women who put their faith in me, nothing has made me prouder to be your campion.” she said. “I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will. And hopefully sooner then we might think right now. To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful and deserving and free to pursue your own dreams. ”
In the audience was Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, campaign manager John Podesta and close aide Huma Abedin – whose husband sparked a new FBI probe says before the election.
She addressed her family — husband Bill, daughter Chelsea, son-in-law Marc Mezvinsky and grandkids Charlotte and Aidan — directly. “My love for you means more than I can ever express,” she said. “You criss-crossed this country and lifted me up when I needed it the most.”
And she addressed the Obamas, telling them “our country owes you a debt of gratitude. We thank you for your graceful, determined leadership.”
Clinton also sent love to all the volunteers who helped her on her “vast,” “energized” campaign. “We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people to say that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone. Now our responsibility is to build a greater America. And I know you will.”
“I’m proud of Hillary Clinton because she’s achieved vast dreams,” he said — speaking about her platform on children and families. “Nobody had to wonder about Hillary Clinton about whether she would accept an outcome of an election in our beautiful country. Nobody had to question that. That love of country is something that is obvious to everyone.”
“Hillary and I know well the phrase of William Faulkner, ‘They kilt us but they ain’t whipped us yet.’ We know that the work remains. In that important work that remains, it is so comforting to know that Hillary Clinton is going to be battling for the values.”
RELATED VIDEO: John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Chairman, Tells New York Supporters to Go Home
The speech, from New Yorker Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, was the first time that the Democratic presidential candidate publicly addressed her supporters following her surprising defeat. Clinton was supposed to give a speech at her election party at the Jacob Javits Center Tuesday night — but when her loss became clear, Podesta said there would be no announcement until the morning.
Clinton arrived almost an hour late in the “Scooby” van in which she road tripped around the country at the launch of her campaign more than a year ago. A cheer burst from the waiting crowd at the hotel’s side entrance and Clinton, gripping her husband’s hand, with Chelsea trailing behind, paused briefly to smile and wave before continuing inside.
“This team has so much to be proud of,” she tweeted on Tuesday night as the polls began to close. “Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything.”
Obama invited Trump to join him at the White House on Thursday to discuss the presidential transition, citing a need to plan despite their differences.
“Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the President identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the President-elect is the next step,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement to PEOPLE Wednesday.
The President said he also called Clinton Wednesday and expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country.
“I could not be prouder of her,” he said in his speech. “She has lived an extraordinary life in public service. I’m proud of her, a lot of Americans look up to her. Her candidacy and nomination was historic and send a message to our daughters all across the country that they can achieve greatness.”