Let me say to many of my friends, and my wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Robin, and others, we're very honored to have you here.

And I'd just say, ladies and gentlemen, one of the qualities of American politics that distinguishes us from other nations is that we judge our politicians as much by the manner in which they leave office as by the vigor with which they pursue it. You do not lay claim to the office you hold, it lays claim to you. Your obligation is to bring to it the gifts you can of labor and honesty and then to depart with grace.

And my time to leave this office has come, and I will seek the presidency with nothing to fall back on but the judgment of the people, and nowhere to go but the White House or home.

Six times -- six times I've run for Republican leader of the United States Senate, and six times my colleagues, giving me their trust, have elected me, and I'm proud of that.

So my campaign for the president is not merely about obtaining office. It's about fundamental things, consequential things, things that are real. My campaign is about telling the truth, it's about doing what is right, it's about electing a president who's not attracted to the glories of the office, but rather to its difficulties. It's about electing a president, who, once he takes office, will keep his perspective and remain by his deepest nature and inclination one of the people.

Therefore, as the campaign for the president begins in earnest, it is my obligation to the Senate and to the people of America to leave behind all the trappings of power, all comfort and all security.

So today I announce that I will forgo the privileges not only of the office of the majority leader but of the United States {Senate} itself, from which I resign effective on or before June 11th. And I will then stand before you without office or authority, a private citizen, a Kansan, an American, just a man.

But I will be the same man I was when I walked into the room, the same man I was yesterday and the day before, and a long time ago when I arose from my hospital bed and was permitted by the grace of God to walk again in the world.

And I trust in the hard way, for little has come to me except in the hard way, which is good because we have a hard task ahead of us.

We are gaining, but still behind in the polls. The press does not lean our way. And many Beltway pundits confidently dismiss my chances of victory. I do not find this disheartening and I do not find it discouraging, for this is where I touch the ground, and it is in touching the ground in moments of difficulty that I've always found my strength. I have been there before, I have done it the hard way, and I will do it the hard way once again.

For today -- for today I will begin to reconstitute our momentum until it is a great and agile force -- clear in direction, irresistible in effect. Our campaign will leave Washington behind to look to America. As summer nears, I will seek the bright light and open spaces of this beautiful country and will ask for the wise counsel of its people, from the sea coasts of Maine and California to the old railroad towns in the Midwest to the verdant South, from the mountains of Colorado to the suburbs of Chicago, and in places in between known mainly to you who call them home.

I have absolute confidence in the victory that to some may seem unattainable; this is because I have seen victory and I have seen defeat and I know when one is set to give way to the other. And to concentrate upon the campaign, giving all and risking all, I must leave Congress that I have loved, and which I have been honored to serve -- many of my friends here today.

And some might find it surprising, given the view that Congress has been my life, but that is not so. With all due respect to Congress, America has been my life. And the very least a presidential candidate owes America is his full attention: everything he can give, everything he has. And that is what America shall receive from me.

I am privileged, I am highly privileged to be my party's presidential nominee, and I am content that my fate and my story are for the American people to decide. For the American people have always known, through our long and trying history, that God has blessed the hard way. Because of this, as I say thank you and farewell to the Senate, as summer nears, and as the campaign begins, my heart is buoyant.

Thank you, and may God guide us to what is right. Thank you very much. CAPTION: Sen. Dole with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and others after announcing resignation.