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Carter squeaks by Ford, who finally concedes race

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 1976 (UPI) - President Ford, his voice almost gone from the rigors of his losing campaign, today conceded the election to Jimmy Carter and urged all Americans to give "your united support to president elect Carter." Ford telephoned Carter shortly before noon, then made a personal appearance in the White House press room shortly after noon. He made a brief statement, then stepped aside while his wife Betty read his congratulatory telegram to Carter.

"Dear Jimmy," the telegram said. "It is apparent now that you won a long and intense struggle for the presidency.

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"I congratulate you on your victory as one who has been honored to serve the people of this great land both in Congress and as President. I believe that we must now put the divisions of the campaign behind us and unite the country once again."

Ford, accompanied by other members of the First Family, appeared fatigued and did not smile. But he and his family after the statement moved among members of the White House staff and press corps shaking hands.

"The President urges all Americans to join him in giving your united support to president-elect Carter," Mrs. Ford said.

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The President had been taking medication for a hoarse throat resulting from dozens of speeches and thousands of miles of traveling in the last 11 days in his effort to close the gap on his foe.

"It's obvious that my voice isn't up to par and I shouldn't be making very many comments, and I won't," he said. "I asked Betty to read a statement that I have sent to Governor Carter."

Mrs. Ford said her husband wanted to thank the thousands of persons who voted for him. Then she read the telegram, which read in part:

"I want to assure you that you have my complete and wholehearted support as you take the oath of office this January. I also pledge to you that I and all members of my administration will do our best to assure that you begin your term as smoothly and effectively as possible. May God bless you and your family."

Ford was visibly shaken, biting his lips and apparently holding back tears.

Asked what he would be doing in the weeks before Carter's inauguration, Ford raised his fist and he said, "We're going to keep working. It's the job. I'm going to work hard until Jan. 20. We've got a lot of things to do and we're going to keep doing it."

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He said that he expected to take a few days off to rest.

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