In his first speech after the first major loss of his political career, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton made no bones about it: "I can't deny that I wish the outcome of my particular election had turned out differently."
And he said his defeat - and losses by another 59 House Democrats and some in the U.S. Senate, as well - were the result of a "political tsunami ... there was unhappiness across the nation, not just in this area."
Skelton came to Jefferson City on Thursday as he has every Veterans Day for the past 23 years, to be the keynote speaker for the annual Lincoln University ROTC Veterans Day Breakfast, honoring those Mid-Missourians who have served and sacrificed for their country.
But for the first time, the Lexington Democrat came in defeat, having lost his re-election bid for an 18th two-year term in Congress to Republican Vicky Hartzler, by just more than 12,000 votes out of more than 225,000 cast.
He said the loss surprised him and others.
"My favorable ratings remained very high," Skelton explained. "My polling was very positive, and I fully expected to win."
He said President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among the well-wishers who called him last Wednesday, after the election results were known.
"A lot of my colleagues, God love them, called," he said, "and a lot of good friends."
And he's gotten a "stack" of letters from people "thanking me for my service."
Skelton said he's not ready to retire.
"I would like to do something positive for our country," he said. "I think that I have a lot to offer, wherever it is.
"I can't pre-judge where it goes ... I'm just trying to reconstruct my thoughts and see where I can be of some help."