Obama: Best is yet to come
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
President Barack Obama rolled to re-election Tuesday night, vanquishing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney despite a weak economy that plagued his first term and put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions.
In victory, Obama spoke to thousands of cheering supporters, praising Romney and promising that better days are ahead. "While our road has been hard, though our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up. We have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come," he said.
Romney made a graceful concession speech before a disappointed crowd in Boston. He summoned all Americans to pray for Obama and urged the night's political winners to put partisan bickering aside and "reach across the aisle" to tackle the nation's problems.
In his 20-minute speech to supporters after winning re-election, President Obama touched on familiar themes he has emphasized throughout his presidency. He urged people to come together and said he would work with leaders in both parties to improve education, spur innovation, reduce debt and lessen global warming.
"We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world. A nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever known," he said.
He made references to victims of Superstorm Sandy and the Navy SEALS who killed Osama Bin Laden.
"This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich," he said. "We have the most powerful military in history but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities, our culture are the envy of the world but that's not what keep the world coming to our shore."
It's "the belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another."
After the costliest — and arguably the nastiest — campaign in history, divided government seemed alive and well.
Democrats retained control of the Senate with surprising ease. Republicans did the same in the House, ensuring that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Obama's partner in unsuccessful deficit talks, would reclaim his seat at the bargaining table.
At Obama headquarters in Chicago, a huge crowd gathered waving small American flags and cheering. Supporters hugged each other, danced and pumped their fists in the air. Excited crowds also gathered in New York's Times Square, at Faneuil Hall in Boston and near the White House in Washington, drivers joyfully honking as they passed by.
With returns from 79 percent of the nation's precincts, Obama had 52.2 million, 49.5 percent. Romney had 51.7 million, 49 percent.
And the president's laserlike focus on the battleground states allowed him to run up a 303-203 margin in the competition for electoral votes, where the White House is won or lost. It took 270 to win.
The election emerged as a choice between two very different visions of government — whether it occupies a major, front-row place in American lives or is in the background as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise and entrepreneurship.
The economy was rated the top issue by about 60 percent of voters surveyed as they left their polling places. But more said former President George W. Bush bore responsibility for current circumstances than Obama did after nearly four years in office.
That boded well for the president, who had worked to turn the election into a choice between his proposals and Romney's, rather than a simple referendum on the economy during his time in the White House.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.