President Barack Obama declares victory: ‘The best is yet to come’
BY NATASHA KORECKI AND MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporters November 6, 2012 6:06PM
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Declaring “the best is yet to come,” President Barack Obama won re-election Tuesday, overcoming concerns over a struggling economy, a devastating national deficit and relentless Republican attacks on his health care overhaul.
“We are an American family and we rise and fall as one nation and one people,” Obama said as he declared victory at McCormick Place.
“Tonight, in this election, you the American people reminded us that while our road has been hard, while 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.
“I want to thank every American who participated in this election. Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time — by the way we have to fix that — whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard, and you made a difference.”
Obama said he spoke with Republican challenger Mitt Romney and congratulated him and running mate Paul Ryan “on a hard fought campaign.”
“We may have battled fiercely but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future,” Obama said.
With Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” blaring over the loudspeaker, Obama took to the stage shortly after 12:30 a.m. with first lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Waving small American flags, the crowd chanted “four more years.”
Obama was predicted to win key battleground states to notch the electoral votes needed to claim victory, and early Wednesday moved ahead of Romney in the popular vote.
Earlier, a sea of people let loose with a deafening, thunderous roar that held for nearly 10 minutes filled the hall at McCormick Place at news that Obama was headed to re-election.
The song “How you like me now,” blared over the speakers at Obama’s election night headquarters. People hugged and danced. Some kicked in a chorus line. Joy reigned.
“We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are. Thank you,” Obama Tweeted after major networks declared him the winner.
Romney conceded shortly before midnight.
“I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory,” Romney said, congratulating the Democrat’s supporters as well. “I wish all of them well.”
Obama was the projected winner in the key battleground states of Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Ohio and expected to tally 303 electoral votes, ahead of Romney’s 206.
The two were neck-and-neck in the popular vote. Obama had 50 percent to Romney’s 49 percent. For the president that meant 55,215,590 votes, some 1.1 million more than Romney’s 54,061,372, according to CNN.
Republicans were predicted to take the House of Representatives again, handing Obama another challenge of overcoming Washington gridlock. Democrats were expected to again take the U.S. Senate, however.
On his way into Obama’s Election Day headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Obama stole away voters that Romney believed were to be his stronghold.
“People keep saying his main coalition are minorities and women but they’re going to have to take a closer look at that,” Emanuel said of Obama’s steamrolling the critical states of Iowa and likely Florida and Ohio. “He won Iowa and Iowa is heavily white, heavily old. He won Florida. Florida is heavily old. It’s because the president is more trusted on Medicare.”
Early exit polls showed that 60 percent of Hispanic voters in Florida went for Obama.
Moving forward, in this next term, Emanuel said immediate challenges to be tackled include tax and immigration reform, strengthening education and Medicare.
Major networks as well as the Associated Press put the all-important swing state of Ohio in Obama’s column. No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio.
The apparent victory capped a nail-biter of a night.
Wisconsin ultimately went to Obama – keeping with the tradition it’s held since 1984 of carrying a Democrat for president. Both candidates spent considerable time in the final days of their marathon campaigns wrestling over the Badger State’s 10 electoral votes. Bruce Springsteen boosted Obama in a Madison, Wis., rally on Monday. Polls had owed it remained in play, in part thanks to Romney picking Janesville, Wis. native Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate.
“Like so many of you, Paul and I have left everything on the field,” Romney said of his running mate during his concession speech. “We have given our all to this campaign. I so wish I woud have been able to fulfill your hopes to lead this country in another direction.”
Each campaign just concluded a flurry of last-minute rallying in key battleground states. That included a last-minute change by Romney, who made visits to Pennsylvania and Ohio Tuesday. He was headquartered in Boston Tuesday.
Obama finished his campaign where it began for him — in Iowa. He then flew to Chicago where he played hoops on Tuesday to give in to an Election Day superstition and had dinner with his family at his Kenwood home. His daughters flew to Chicago from Washington, D.C., after school on Tuesday.
At McCormick Place, Obama’s re-election headquarters, crowds filled the great hall by 9 p.m. Supporters, surrogates and celebrities were on site watching results come in. Some celebrities were spotted heading to the VIP area, including Hollywood Actress Vivica Fox.
“He’s going to win and his victory is going to usher in an American renaissance,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) “A renaissance of jobs creation, business creation, a more robust energy policy. President Obama is up to the task. And he’s the only one that the American people trust to bring America out of its doldrums.”
In his victory speech, Obama said “despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future.”
“I believe we can seize this future together because we’re not as divided as our politics suggest,” he said. “We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America and together with your help and God’s grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is we live in the greatest nation on earth. Thank you America. God bless you. God bless these United States.”
The great hall inside McCormick Place was divided into two sections, the general hall, and a smaller “Special Guest” section requiring a second credential for entry.
Three generations were represented in the Brantley-Tate family who proudly entered the Special Guest section. The South Holland family — grandmother Johnnie Tate, 73, daughter Rhonda Brantley, 51, and granddaughter Kiara Brantley Jones, 18 — had driven to Racine, Wis., to knock on doors, and to Milwaukee to support an Obama rally.
“I am here because of his being genuine, from the heart, for real and not a flip-flopper,” said Johnnie Tate. “I supported him where ever I was needed.”
Contributing: Dave McKinney