In passionate speech, Obama says 'You have made me a better president' (+video)
President Obama said he had never been more hopeful after winning a hard-fought election over Mitt Romney. He cobbled together a winning coalition, but it might not be enough to give him a mandate.
In 2008, President Obama made history by becoming the first African-American elected to the White House. In 2012, he did it again – this time, by winning reelection despite a 7.9 percent unemployment rate and a sluggish economy, in a contest against a former businessman, Mitt Romney, who had made the economy the centerpiece of his campaign.Skip to next paragraph
Liz Marlantes covers politics for the Monitor and is a regular contributor to the Monitor's political blog, DC Decoder.
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According to exit polls, nearly 60 percent of voters cited the economy as the most important issue – but critically, more voters were inclined to penalize former President George W. Bush than Mr. Obama for the country’s economic woes. And while three-quarters of voters described economic conditions as "not so good" or "poor," they were almost evenly split on which candidate would do a better job handling the economy.
It was a hard-fought win for the president, after a campaign that even to many of his supporters seemed notably less inspirational – and far more negative – than his 2008 run. And his margin of victory was, as anticipated, much narrower than four years ago.
"Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated," Obama said in his victory speech at Chicago’s McCormick Place, where he came onstage with his whole family to the sounds of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered." "And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight. And it shouldn't.... But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for American's future."
"We are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation,” Obama added. “Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you have made me a better president.”
Obama also said he “has never been more hopeful about America,” and said he looks forward to sitting down with Romney in coming weeks to “talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”
For his part, in his concession speech, Mr. Romney described the nation as being "at a critical point," adding: "At a time like this we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing." Calling it "a time of great challenges for America," he said, "I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation."