President Barack Obama declared “the best is yet to come” for the United States of America, after accepting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s congratulations on winning re-election.
Declaring America an extended family, Obama said to raucous applause that “the task of perfecting our unions moves forward.”
The president also called for bipartisan cooperation, and said he looked forward to meeting with Romney in the weeks ahead to see how they could work together on behalf of the nation.
A joyous crowd greeted the Obama family as they took the stage just after 1:30 Wednesday morning in Chicago.
The major wire services and networks had named him the winner of the election shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday.
The victory made Obama the first president since FDR to be re-elected with the official unemployment rate hovering near 8 percent.
The Romney campaign initially refused to concede the election. But just before 1 a.m. the former Massachusetts governor telephoned President Obama to offer his congratulations on winning a hard-fought campaign.
“I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory,” Romney said in his concession speech. “His supporters and campaign also deserve congratulations… this is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.”
In a brief five-minute speech, Romney assured his supporters that he and vice presidential choice Rep. Paul Ryan had “left everything on the field” in their efforts to win the White House. The GOP standard-bearer said with obviously reluctance that wife Ann “would have made a great first lady.”
Romney also urged leaders in Washington to reach across the aisle to get things accomplished for the American people.
But with a looming “fiscal cliff” and the nation sharply divided, overcoming partisanship will be difficult indeed. One indication of just how divided the nation remains: At 12:30 a.m., with 98 million votes tallied nationally, CNN reported that Romney was leading Obama in the popular vote by all of 345 votes. Romney’s lead represented .00000352 percent of the popular vote cast at that point.
Wall Street Journal editorial board member, columnist, and economic writer Stephen Moore told Newsmax that Obama’s use of wedge issues targeting class and demographic differences proved successful.
“I hate to say it,” Moore added, “but it was sort of a takers’ coalition that Obama stitched together. It worked, and the concern that conservatives always had is we’re getting close to that tipping point where more people want government than paid for it.
“I’m not ready to say we’re there yet,” he adds, “but what Obama did I think offered people the safety net of government, where Romney was talking a lot about growth.”
What initially appeared to be a promising night for the Romney campaign began to slide at 9:17 p.m., when Fox News projected Pennsylvania to remain in Obama’s grasp, despite the fact that only 7 percent of the vote was in at that point.
A second body blow landed just minutes later, when Fox declared Obama the winner in Wisconsin. The Romney campaign had hoped to pick off one of those two states in case it as unable to overcome the Obama campaign’s vaunted firewall in Ohio.
By the time Fox called Ohio for Obama at 11:15 p.m., Romney’s fate appeared to be sealed. But Fox News commentator Karl Rove took to the network’s airwaves to insist Ohio’s outcome was not yet settled.
“I think this is premature,” Rove said, noting that about 23 percent of the vote in the Buckeye state was still outstanding.
But just before midnight, longtime Republican Kenneth Blackwell, who served as Ohio secretary of state, told Newsmax that while Fox may have jumped the gun, the voting trends showed the die was cast.
“It probably was a rush to make a call based on their understanding of trends,” Blackwell told Newsmax. “… but based on what I know about Cuyahoga county, it was probably premature but probably not the wrong.”
The Romney campaign knew all along that winning Ohio and Wisconsin would be difficult. But losing Colorado, a state that was once a safe harbor for Republicans with a significant Mormon vote, and the only one in which Romney led in early voting, was an eye opener for the GOP.
Obama also shocked Republicans by putting Virginia in the Democratic column for the second election in a row. Florida remained too close to call late into the morning, with the president holding on to a narrow lead.
Moore credited Democrats with doing “a much better job at getting out their voters than Republicans did.” He says Democrats essentially adopted the 2004 playbook designed by the Bush re-election campaign.
“Just like Republicans drove out their voters by demonizing Kerry, Democrats drove out their voters by demonizing Romney,” says Moore. “And it worked.”
But Moore conceded the obvious difference was that Obama had won re-election despite sky-high unemployment.
“I think the other thing that Obama was able to do, which was really very discouraging actually for our country, is that Obama won by stitching together special interest groups,” Moore tells Newsmax. “It was classic identity politics. He went after single women, he went after students who wanted student loans, he went after minorities, he won the Latino vote through the immigration policies … While Romney was talking about generating growth in the economy, Obama was talking about giving away things to people.”
With Florida’s outcome in doubt, the night ended with Obama controlling 303 Electoral College votes to Romney’s 203. The number needed to capture the presidency is 270 votes.
As the full scope of the GOP’s political setback gradually emerged, the Monday-morning quarterbacking of the Romney election strategy was soon in full swing. Some pundits cited the last minute impact of Hurricane Sandy. Others complained that Romney waited way too long to counter the Obama campaign’s brutal attack ads in May that characterized him in Ohio as willing to ship jobs overseas and indifferent to the concerns or ordinary people.
Fox News commentator and Democratic pollster Doug Schoen told Newsmax the results showed Republicans must go back to the drawing board politically. Schoen said the GOP lacked “a positive pro-active message on growth and job creation.” And he predicted continued gridlock and dysfunction in Washington during Obama’s second term.
The election is sure to provoke GOP soul searching, especially over its rhetorical approach toward Latinos and immigration reform. President Obama won the Hispanic vote by 69 percent, compared to his 67 percent margin in that demographic in 2008.
During the GOP primary, Romney tried to protect his right flank politically by calling for illegals to “self deport.” Leading Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have urged the Grand Old Party to adopt a softer, more welcoming tone toward Latino voters.
For many African-Americans, the election outcome in some ways may offer an even greater sign of racial reconciliation than Obama’s 2008 victory.
“Sitting here as a black person,” remarked Fox News commentator Juan Williams, “it is amazing to think that he just got re-elected, with all of the problems that we’ve been talking about.
“Yes, there is a lot of racial polarization in the electorate as we see it tonight,” Williams said. “But here’s a guy who had difficulties, now does not have the savior magical aura he had back in 08. He’s an average guy trying his best, arguably, but up against it and in some instances failing. Nonetheless, he was able to win re-election. I think that’s a very special moment.”
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