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By Campbell Brown – CNN

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praises Obama
  • Bush promises “complete cooperation” during transition
  • Bush warns nation’s enemies U.S. will “stay vigilant”
  • Watching Obama enter White House will be “stirring sight,” Bush says

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush on Wednesday hailed the election of Barack Obama as “a triumph of the American story.”

Obama’s rise to become the nation’s first black president is “a testament to hard work, optimism and a faith in the enduring promise of our nation,” Bush said in the White House Rose Garden.

“No matter how they cast their ballots, all Americans can be proud of the history that was made yesterday,” said Bush, whose second term in the Oval Office will end when Obama is sworn in on January 20.

Bush said he had called Obama and had also spoken to his opponent, Sen. John McCain.

“I congratulated [McCain] on a determined campaign that he and Gov. [Sarah] Palin ran,” the president said. VideoWatch Bush praise presidential candidates »

Bush said turning over the White House to Obama “will be a stirring sight.”

“I know millions of Americans will be overcome with pride at this inspiring moment that so many have waited for for so long,” Bush said.

Moving toward Obama’s January 20 inauguration, Bush promised the president-elect he can count on “complete cooperation” as he makes the transition to the White House.

Speaking later at the State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said her department “will do everything that we can” to ensure a smooth transition.

Rice, an African-American like Obama, also called Tuesday’s election “an extraordinary step forward” in the nation’s history.

“I am especially proud because this is a country that’s been through a long journey in terms of overcoming wounds, and making race not the factor in our lives,” Rice said.

Bush warned America’s enemies not to expect any letup in national security during the transition.

“The United States government will stay vigilant in meeting its most important responsibility, protecting the American people,” Bush said.

Bush pledged to fulfill his duties as president until the final day of his presidency.

“I will continue to conduct the people’s business as long as the office remains in my trust,” the nation’s 43rd president said.

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