CHICAGO (AP) - Barack Obama asked John McCain for his help in leading the country in a telephone call Tuesday night, moments after the Democratic senator was declared the country's first black president.
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama thanked McCain for his graciousness and told him he had waged a tough race.
"Senator Obama told Senator McCain he was consistently someone who has showed class and honor during this campaign as he has during his entire life in public service," Gibbs said in a statement. "Senator Obama said he was eager to sit down and talk about how the two of them can work together." Gibbs quoted Obama as saying to McCain: "I need your help, you're a leader on so many important issues"
President Bush called Obama shortly after the Illinois senator hung up with McCain, and then Obama watched McCain's concession speech from his suite in the Hyatt Regency hotel, where he watched returns with his extended family and senior staff.
Gibbs said the call came at 11 p.m. eastern time, right after The Associated Press and television networks declared the Obama winner of their presidential race. A few blocks away, a massive crowd in Grant Park that included celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt erupted into cheers to see their chosen candidate break the White House color barrier. Audience members leapt into the air, waving American flags. Many shed tears.