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November 7, 2012
 

Victory in Hand, Obama Extends Olive Branch

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Barack Obama was elected to a second term as president Tuesday, reassembling the coalition that lifted him to a historic win four years ago and winning at least six of the key battleground states.

The Democratic incumbent received 50 percent of the vote nationwide to 48 percent for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In terms of the raw vote, Mr. Obama had a lead of about 2.5 million ballots as of Wednesday morning, with counting still left to go in some states.

The battle for Electoral College supremacy was not as close as the two-point margin would suggest, with Mr. Obama besting his Republican rival by a 303 to 206 score. Florida and its 29 electoral votes remain up for grabs, as the president holds a narrow lead in the Sunshine State (less than 50,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast) with 97 percent of the returns counted.

After months of fierce campaigning that exposed deep divisions between the two major political parties, Mr. Obama called on both sides to come together and fulfill the wishes of the American people.

“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours,” Mr. Obama told supporters gathered in his hometown of Chicago. “And in the coming weeks and months I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together — reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil.”

The president praised Romney for his family’s legacy of public service and remarked that he hoped to sit down with the Republican in the weeks ahead “to figure out where we can work together to move this country forward.”

Romney delivered a brief but gracious statement in front of supporters in Boston as he conceded the race.

“This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation,” Romney said, adding that he and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (re-elected to his House seat Tuesday, incidentally), had left “everything on the field.”

But the night belonged to the 44th president of the United States, who achieved a second term despite a sluggish economic recovery and fierce attacks by Republicans on his policies, most notably the health care overhaul passed in 2010.

With four years of governing ahead of him, Mr. Obama closed on a note of unity, drawing from the 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that propelled him into the national spotlight. “We are not as divided as our politics suggest. We are not as cynical as the pundits believe,” he said. “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.”

Watch the president’s speech in full here or below:

It appears Mr. Obama’s call for a renewed sense of bipartisanship will not take long to be tested. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon in Washington, and in the days leading up to the election he went on record saying he was opposed to raising taxes, even on those people earning more than $1 million a year.

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