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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

4 MORE YEARS: Obama wins re-elections, tweets his thanks

Agencies  Washington, November 07, 2012
First Published: 11:34 IST(7/11/2012) | Last Updated: 12:34 IST(7/11/2012)
US President Barack Obama swept to re-election on Tuesday, creating history again by defying the undertow of a slow economic recovery and high unemployment to beat Republican foe Mitt Romney.

Obama became only the second Democrat to win a second four-year White House term since World War II, when television networks projected he would win the bellwether state of Ohio where he had staged a pitched battle with Romney.

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"This happened because of you. Thank you," Obama tweeted to his 22 million followers on Twitter as a flurry of states, including Iowa, which nurtured his unlikely White House dreams suddenly tipped into his column.

With a clutch of swing states, including Florida and Virginia still to be declared, Obama already had 275 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed for the White House and looked set for a comfortable victory.

There was a sudden explosion of jubilation at Obama's Chicago victory party as the first African American president, who was elected on a wave of hope and euphoria four years ago, booked another four years in the White House.

Romney's aides had predicted that a late Romney wave would sweep Obama from office after a single term haunted by a sluggish recovery from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s Great Depression and high unemployment.

But a huge cheer rang out at Obama headquarters when television networks projected Obama would retain Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes, and the party grew wilder as they called Wisconsin and Michigan.

The mood at Romney headquarters in Boston however had grown subdued throughout the evening as partisans stared at their smart phones.

Disappointed Republicans were seen leaving what had been billed as a celebration of Romney's expected triumph in central Washington.

Defeats in New Hampshire, where Romney has a summer home and Wisconsin, the home of Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan were especially sickening for Republicans.

Early signs were that the election, while a building triumph for Obama would do little to ease the deep polarization afflicting US politics, as Republicans racked up huge margins in safe states, though struggled in battlegrounds.

Exit polls appeared to vindicate the vision of the race offered by Obama's campaign, when top aides predicted that Obama's armies of African American, Latinos and young voters would come out in droves.

Polls also showed that though only 39% of people believed that the economy was improving, around  half of Americans blamed President George W Bush for the tenuous situation, and not Obama.

The president, who made history by becoming America's first black president after a euphoric victory, carved a new precedent on Tuesday by defying the portents of a hurting economy to win a second term.

He awaited his fate in his hometown of Chicago, while Romney, a multi-millionaire former investment manager and Massachusetts governor was laying low in a hotel in Boston awaiting results.

As expected, television networks projected that Republicans would win the House of Representatives.

Democrats clung onto the Senate, and retained a seat in Missouri, where Senator Claire McCaskill fended off a challenge by Representative Todd Akin, whose remarks about rape and abortion sparked national outrage.

Both presidential candidates had earlier marked time while voters dictated their fates.

Romney appeared caught up in the emotion of seeing his name on the ballot for President of the United States and also saw an omen in a huge crowd that showed up at a multi-story parking lot to see his plane land at Pittsburgh airport.

"Intellectually I felt that we're going to win this and I've felt that for some time," Romney told reporters on his plane.

"But emotionally, just getting off the plane and seeing those people standing there... I not only think we're going to win intellectually but I feel it as well."

While Romney penned his victory speech, Obama took part in his election day tradition of playing a game of pick-up basketball with friends, including Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, after visiting a campaign office near his Chicago home.

The president, who like a third of Americans voted before election day, congratulated Romney on "a spirited campaign" despite their frequently hot tempered exchanges.

"I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today. We feel confident we've got the votes to win, that it's going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out," he said.

"I think anybody who's running for office would be lying if they say that there's not some butterflies before the polls come in because anything can happen," the president added later in a radio interview.

CBS News, quoting early exit polls, said 39% of people approached after they had voted said the economy, the key issue, was improving, while 31% said it was worse and 28 saw it as staying the same.

Voters were also choosing a third of the Democratic-led Senate and the entire Republican-run House of Representatives. But, with neither chamber expected to change hands, the current political gridlock will likely continue.

The US presidential election is not directly decided by the popular vote, but requires candidates to pile up a majority -- 270 -- of 538 electoral votes awarded state-by-state on the basis of population.

A candidate can therefore win the nationwide popular vote and still be deprived of the presidency by falling short in the Electoral College.

The election went ahead in New Jersey with thousands of people without power, and large areas devastated by superstorm Sandy which roared ashore last week killing more than 100 people.

Adora Agim, an immigrant from Nigeria, said the chaos shouldn't stop voting.

"I have lived in a Third World country where your vote does not matter. It's nice to be somewhere where it matters," she said, in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The central message of Obama's campaign has been that he saved America from a second Great Depression after the economy was on the brink of collapse when he took over from Republican president George W. Bush in 2009.

He claims credit for ending the war in Iraq, saving the US auto industry, killing Osama bin Laden, offering almost every American health insurance, and passing the most sweeping Wall Street reform in decades.

Romney sought to mine frustration with the slow pace of the economic recovery and argued that the president was out of ideas and has no clue how to create jobs, with unemployment at 7.9% and millions out of work.

Buttons with portraits of US President Barack Obama lie in a glass bowl during the election night at the representation of the Bertelsmann media cooperation in Berlin. Reuters

At Romney headquarters in Boston, a stony silence greeted news that television projections had handed Michigan, the state of his birth and where his father George was governor, to Obama.

The president, who made history by becoming America's first black president after a euphoric victory, was aiming to carve new precedent on Tuesday, by defying the portents of a hurting economy to win a second term.

He awaited his fate in his hometown of Chicago, while Romney, a multi-millionaire former investment manager and Massachusetts governor was laying low in a hotel in Boston awaiting results.

Early results and evidence from key counties in swing states did not show any sign of the Republican wave that Romney had predicted, and rather appeared to confirm the predictions of the Obama campaign for high voter turnout.

As expected, television networks projected that Republicans would win the House of Representatives, and Democrats were favored to cling onto the Senate.

In early calls in the presidential race, television networks, handed the rivals the safe states they always knew would be in their column.

Both candidates had earlier marked time while voters dictated their fates.

Romney appeared caught up in the emotion of seeing his name on the ballot for President of the United States and also saw an omen in a huge crowd that showed up at a multi-story parking lot to see his plane land at Pittsburgh airport.

"Intellectually I felt that we're going to win this and I've felt that for some time," Romney told reporters on his plane.

"But emotionally, just getting off the plane and seeing those people standing there... I not only think we're going to win intellectually but I feel it as well."

While Romney penned his victory speech, Obama took part in his election day tradition of playing a game of pick-up basketball with friends, including Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, after visiting a campaign office near his Chicago home.

The president, who like a third of Americans voted before election day, congratulated Romney on "a spirited campaign" despite their frequently hot tempered exchanges.


A supporter of President Barack Obama reacts to positive predictions for her candidate as crowds watch election results in Times Square in New York. AP Photo

"I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today. We feel confident we've got the votes to win, that it's going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out," he said.

"I think anybody who's running for office would be lying if they say that there's not some butterflies before the polls come in because anything can happen," the president added later in a radio interview.

CBS News, quoting early exit polls, said 39% of people approached after they had voted said the economy, the key issue, was improving, while 31% said it was worse and 28 saw it as staying the same.

Voters were also choosing a third of the Democratic-led Senate and the entire Republican-run House of Representatives. But, with neither chamber expected to change hands, the current political gridlock will likely continue.

The US presidential election is not directly decided by the popular vote, but requires candidates to pile up a majority -- 270 -- of 538 electoral votes awarded state-by-state on the basis of population.

A candidate can therefore win the nationwide popular vote and still be deprived of the presidency by falling short in the Electoral College.

The election went ahead in New Jersey with thousands of people without power, and large areas devastated by superstorm Sandy which roared ashore last week killing more than 100 people.

Adora Agim, an immigrant from Nigeria, said the chaos shouldn't stop voting.

"I have lived in a Third World country where your vote does not matter. It's nice to be somewhere where it matters," she said, in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The central message of Obama's campaign has been that he saved America from a second Great Depression after the economy was on the brink of collapse when he took over from Republican president George W Bush in 2009.

He claims credit for ending the war in Iraq, saving the US auto industry, killing Osama bin Laden, offering almost every American health insurance, and passing the most sweeping Wall Street reform in decades.

Romney sought to mine frustration with the slow pace of the economic recovery and argued that the president was out of ideas and has no clue how to create jobs, with unemployment at 7.9% and millions out of work.

In early results, Obama and Romney piled up victories in the states they were expected to win easily.

Democrats were encouraged by early vote-counting in the swing states of Ohio and Florida that showed the president holding slight leads in each. Romney held an early lead in a third battleground state, Virginia.

Romney needs all three of those states to navigate a narrow path to the presidency, while Obama can afford to lose one or two of them and still win a second four-year term.

At least 120 million people were expected to render their judgment between the Democratic incumbent and Romney after a long, expensive and bitter presidential campaign that magnified the differences between Americans wanting to continue Obama's approach to fixing the ailing economy and those who want to try a new approach. 

Profile of US President Barack Obama


A man poses between two cardboard portraits of US President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the US election night party in Milan. AFP photo

Television networks projected Romney the winner, as expected, in Republican states Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Indiana.

Obama was projected the winner in the Democratic strongholds of Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and his home state of Illinois, as well as Washington, D.C.

CNN projected that Obama carried Maine.

Who Americans choose will set the country's course for the next four years on spending, taxes, healthcare, the role of government and foreign policy challenges such the rise of China and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Each man offered different policies to cure what ails America's weak economy, with Obama pledging to raise taxes on the wealthy and Romney offering across-the-board tax cuts as a way to ignite strong economic growth.

National opinion polls before the election showed Obama and Romney in a virtual dead heat, although Obama had a slight advantage in several vital swing states - most notably Ohio - that could give him the 270 electoral votes needed to win the state-by-state contest.


Poll workers count and review voter authorization forms at the Covenant Presbyterian Church during the US presidential election in Charlotte, North Carolina. Reuters photo

According to Reuters-Ipsos Election Day polling, one in three Obama voters said the economy was the most important issue for them, while half of Romney voters agreed. Healthcare was the second most important issue for Obama voters and the budget deficit was second for Romney voters. Unemployment was third for both.

Three-quarters of both Romney and Obama supporters decided to vote for their preferred candidate before the October debates between the candidates, according to the data.

The Romney side was encouraged by what was described as heavy turnout in Republican areas from Florida to Colorado.

Romney made last-minute visits to Ohio and Pennsylvania on Tuesday to try to drive up turnout in those states, while Vice President Joe Biden was dispatched to Ohio. Obama remained in his hometown of Chicago.

Profile of Mitt Romney

'I'm very proud'
Expressing confidence, Romney told reporters on his plane as he flew back to Boston that he had written only one speech for evening, one celebrating his victory.

"I'm very proud of the campaign that I've run, to tell you the truth," he said. "I'm sure like any campaign, people can talk to mistakes, but that's going to be part of anything that's produced by human beings," he said.

Obama told a Denver television station he had speeches ready for either outcome. "You always have two speeches prepared because you can't take anything for granted," he told FOX31.

The multimillionaire former head of a private equity firm and a former governor of Massachusetts, Romney would be the first Mormon president and one of the wealthiest Americans to assume the nation's highest office. 

Obama, the country's first black president, seeks to avoid being relegated to a single term, something that has happened to only one of the previous four occupants of the White House.

Whichever candidate wins, a razor-thin margin might not bode well for the clear mandate needed to help break the partisan gridlock in Washington.

Fueled by record spending on negative ads, the battle between the two men was focused primarily on the lagging economic recovery and persistently high unemployment, but at times it turned personal.

The close race raises the prospect of a disputed outcome similar to the 2000 election, which ended with a US Supreme Court decision favoring George W. Bush over Al Gore after legal challenges to the tight vote in Florida. Both the Romney and Obama campaigns have assembled legal teams to deal with possible voting problems, challenges or recounts.

Complaints and frustration
Although voting appeared to go smoothly in most places, complaints about procedures and possible irregularities surfaced sporadically across the electoral map.

But there were no immediate claims of anything widespread or systematic enough to cast doubt on the credibility of the election outcome.

Storm-weary residents across New York and New Jersey encountered long lines as they went to cast their ballots just over a week after the devastating storm Sandy caused havoc in the region. New Jersey granted a last-minute extension to the deadline for email voting.

The balance of power in the US Congress will also be at stake in races for the Senate and House of Representatives that could affect the outcome of "fiscal-cliff" negotiations on spending cuts and tax increases, which kick in at the end of the year unless a deal is reached.

Obama's Democrats are now expected to narrowly hold their Senate majority, while Romney's Republicans are favored to retain House control.

Microblogs on US poll: Yashwant Raj | Pramit Pal Chaudhuri | Anirudh Bhattacharyya

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All you needed to know:
Factbox: Obama and Romney on foreign policy

Factbox: Obama, Romney solutions to stimulating the economy

What to watch for on US election night

The A to Z of the 2012 US presidential race

US elections primer: Governors, House and Senate

Tale of the states that will decide White House race

Obama and Romney: where they stand on the issues


Looking back:
Gaffes and zingers: a recap of the US campaign


Breakdown of the 2008 US presidential election

The White House has housed 13 presidents since WWII


Polls and social media:

Twitter, Facebook used to push Americans to the polls

#WhyImNotVotingFor... Obama, Romney fans wage tweet war


What it means for India:

Obama or Romney, India to stay on strong ground

(With AFP and Reuters inputs)

 
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