A closely contested presidential race appears to be near an end. Senator John Kerry has reportedly called President George W. Bush to discuss his plans to concede the election on Wednesday.
A Kerry advisor said that the senator decided to concede the race because he did not feel he could obtain the number of votes needed to win the state of Ohio, and he did not want to further contribute to what he feels is a division within the country.
During his phone conversation with Bush, Kerry congratulated the incumbent and pressed him to work toward mitigating the divisiveness of the U.S. Bush reportedly agreed to work toward that goal, calling Kerry "an honorable and worthy opponent."
Kerry is reportedly working on his concession speech and is expected to deliver it at 1 p.m. ET at Faneuil Hall in Boston.
The Bush inner circle was reportedly ready to go forward to say it didn't think there was any contest between the candidates, but was waiting to give Kerry ample time to concede first.
Bush is expected to deliver his acceptance speech at 3 p.m. ET.
The news comes surprisingly quickly given that America awoke to an election without a clear winner. The Kerry campaign had held out hope that uncounted votes in urban areas of Ohio would tip the balance. However, Bush's lead in that tight race — he is up by 136,000 votes, according to CNN — appears significant enough to give him the state.
A day after near-record numbers turned out to vote, the outcome of the most expensive presidential race in the country's history was unclear this morning as President Bush was ahead on electoral votes 254 to Senator John Kerry's 252, with 270 needed to win. Still not fully counted were votes from Ohio, Iowa and New Mexico.
Ironically, what held up the final count in Ohio were provisional ballots, which were instituted as an attempt to fix some of the problems that occurred in Florida during the fiercely contested election between President Bush and former Vice President Al Gore in 2000. Provisional ballots are cast when there is a question about the eligibility of the voter, leaving it up to the state to sort out any issues after the election.
Ohio was a pivotal swing state throughout the election, and the candidates visited more than 80 times during the campaign.
Overall, Bush holds a slim lead in the popular vote over Kerry, 51 to 48 percent, taking more popular votes than any president in history due to the large voter turnout.
[This story story was updated on 11.03.2004 at 12:14 p.m. ET]