ELECTION WATCH: Obama: 'I have listened to you'

November 7, 2012 - 4:33 PM
Obama 2012

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden acknowledge the crowd at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Around the country on Election Day 2012 with AP reporters bringing the latest developments to you:

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OBAMA: DESTINY IS SHARED

In his 20-minute speech to supporters after winning re-election, President Barack Obama touched on familiar themes he has emphasized throughout his presidency. He urged people to come together and said he would work with leaders in both parties to improve education, spur innovation, reduce debt and lessen global warming.

"We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world. A nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever known," he said.

He made references to victims of Superstorm Sandy and the Navy SEALS who killed Osama Bin Laden.

"This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich," he said. "We have the most powerful military in history but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities, our culture are the envy of the world but that's not what keep the world coming to our shore."

It's "the belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another."

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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OBAMA ON LISTENING

"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president." — Barack Obama, in his victory speech.

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QUICKQUOTE: 'BEST IS YET TO COME'

"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." — President Barack Obama in Chicago after winning re-election, to wild applause. He said he had just spoken with Romney.

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GOP KEEPS HOUSE

Republicans clinched control of the U.S. House of Representatives for two more years, setting up future clashes with re-elected President Barack Obama.

The GOP won 217 seats. Two Louisiana Republicans will face each other in a December runoff, assuring the GOP will have 218 — the number needed for a majority in the 435-seat House.

Their margin will likely resemble the majority they enjoy in the current House, which they control by 240-190. There are also five vacant seats.

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OBAMA ADDRESSES SUPPORTERS

Newly re-elected President Barack Obama has just stepped before the podium to address his supporters. There is jubilation in the Chicago hall where he is delivering his victory speech, minutes after Mitt Romney officially conceded.

He's accompanied by the first lady and their two daughters.

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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WHAT ROMNEY SAID

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti has this to say about Mitt Romney's concession speech:

Mitt Romney hardly lingered on stage in Boston after conceding to Barack Obama. And the Republican sounded like a candidate who knew when to call it quits after two unsuccessful attempts at the presidency.

In a brief speech, Romney said he gave it all to his campaign and that he wished he could have delivered the White House for his supporters.

Romney was respectful when he talked of Obama, calling him "the president" and saying that: "I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation."

And, after a sharply negative campaign, Romney also urged Americans not to engage in partisan bickering.

— Liz Sidoti

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'MITT! MITT! MITT!'

Chants of "Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!" rose from the crowd as Republican Mitt Romney closed his concession speech.

He kissed his wife, Ann, who joined him on stage in Boston, and gave running mate Paul Ryan a big hug.

"I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction," Romney said during his remarks, "but the nation chose another leader."

Added Romney, who lost his bid to unseat President Barack Obama: "At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the nation's work."

"We look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put people before the politics," Romney said.

"I believe in America. I believe in the people of America. ... I ran for office because I'm concerned about America. This election is over, but our principles endure."

— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

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O'REILLY'S 'STUFF'

According to Bill O'Reilly, President Barack Obama's re-election was about the half of the nation that wants "stuff."

"It's a changing country. ... It's not a traditional America anymore," the Fox News Channel host said Tuesday night. "And there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it. And he ran on it."

"Whereby 20 years ago President Obama would have been roundly defeated by an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney, the white establishment is now the minority," O'Reilly said, adding that many voters feel the economic system is "stacked against them."

That means "a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama's way. People feel that they are entitled to things, and which candidate between the two is going to give them things?"

O'Reilly's remarks echoed GOP candidate Mitt Romney's secretly videotaped campaign assertion that "47 percent" of Americans expect government support.

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ROMNEY'S SPEECH

Shortly before 1 a.m. EST on Wednesday, Mitt Romney appeared at the Boston Convention Center to deliver a concession speech.

He was greeted by cheers and whistles in anticipation of what he'd say. Senior aides filed into the ballroom as Romney prepared to take the stage; visibly emotional, they shared hugs with each other as they watched.

Upon Romney's announcement that he had called President Barack Obama "to congratulate him on his victory," the raucous crowd redoubled its noise.

"This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation," Romney said.

He thanked his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, earning big applause.

Referring to his wife, Romney said: "I also want to thank Ann, the love of my life. She would have been a wonderful first lady."

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— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

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WHITE HOUSE CELEBRATION

The sounds of celebration around the White House were so loud that they could be heard a couple blocks away after the presidential race was called for Barack Obama.

Mobs of people were on each side of the White House and cheering was boisterous. Cars honked. Strangers high-fived. People held cut-out pictures of Obama and signs reading "four more years." One man walked around shirtless with an Obama "O'' on his chest.

— Donald Borenstein

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QUICKQUOTE: ROMNEY CONCEDES

"I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory." — Republican Mitt Romney.

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OBAMA AIDE: ROMNEY CONCEDES

Republican Mitt Romney has called President Barack Obama to concede the presidential race.

That's according to an Obama aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the call was private.

Romney is expected to speak shortly in Boston before supporters.

— Ken Thomas — Twitter http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE; MARIJUANA

Maine is the first state to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Washington state is the first to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Voters a continent apart, making history on two divisive social issues.

The outcome in Maine broke a 32-state streak, dating to 1998, with gay marriage rebuffed by every state that voted on it.

Gay marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia — in each case the result of legislation or court orders, not by a vote of the people.

The marijuana measure in Washington sets up a showdown with the federal government.

— David Crary — Twitter http://twitter.com/CraryAP

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MEET THE NEW BOSS

Michael Oreskes, a veteran political journalist since the 1970s and now The Associated Press' senior managing editor for U.S. news, will be checking in briefly with Election Watch throughout the day. Here is his latest report:

Two years and $2 billion. Voters were as unhappy as those who follow the American mood have ever seen. Disillusioned with congress and disappointed with their president.

Yet, after it all, this long political road has produced a new government that looks a whole lot like the old government. The president will remain Barack Obama. Democrats control the Senate and Republicans, most likely, the House.

Obama ran a campaign of tactical brilliance, piecing together the support of the young, the poor, the nonwhite, the urban. A coalition more about identity than policy. He painted Romney into a corner with his own wealth (and Romney's help), and portrayed himself as the defender of the middle class (which seemed to include almost everyone).

Republicans had hard times on their side but couldn't ultimately convince voters they would do better than a second-term Obama.

— Michael Oreskes

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DEMS KEEP SENATE

Democrats won a narrow majority in the Senate, keeping the control they've held since 2007, by snatching Republican-held seats in Massachusetts and Indiana and turning back challenges in Virginia, Ohio and Connecticut.

Republicans were undone by stumbles in Missouri and Indiana, with candidates' clumsy statements about rape and abortion doing severe damage to their individual chances — and their party's hopes of taking over.

In Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren knocked out Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who had stunned the political world in 2010 when he won the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's seat. The strong Democratic tilt in the state and President Barack Obama's easy win over former Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts helped the consumer advocate in her bid.

Heading into this election, with 33 seats up for grabs, Democrats held a 53-47 edge in the Senate, including the two independents who caucus with them. So Republicans needed a net gain of four seats to grab the majority. Shortly after 11 p.m., Democrats gained a lock on 50 seats, enough to keep control once Obama won re-election.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., spoke of conciliation.

"Now that the election is over, it's time to put politics aside and work together to find solutions," Reid said in a statement. "The strategy of obstruction, gridlock and delay was soundly rejected by the American people. Now they are looking to us for solutions."

— Donna Cassata — Twitter http://twitter.com/donnacassataAP

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SNAP INSIGHT

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti offers up this analysis in miniature:

"Talk about a good night for the president. Barack Obama didn't just win in his Midwestern firewall states of Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. He prevailed in places that even fellow Democrats expected to tilt Mitt Romney's way: Colorado for starters. And he was locked in close races in Virginia and Florida, two states that Republicans long had argued were fertile GOP territory. The Electoral College victory his, Obama now is awaiting the results of the popular vote. He and Romney are locked in a tight race for it as Tuesday turns to Wednesday."

— Liz Sidoti

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1,118 WORDS

This tidbit comes from a story by AP reporters Steve Peoples and Kasie Hunt, awaiting Mitt Romney's appearance in Boston:

"The Republican nominee had already written a 1,118-word victory speech that he thought would conclude his yearslong quest for the presidency. Earlier Tuesday, Romney said he had no regrets no matter the outcome."

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples

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WAITING FOR ROMNEY

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate, has arrived at the loading dock of the Boston Convention Center.

He'll hold in a private area until Romney arrives, staff says.

Romney is five minutes behind him in separate motorcade.

— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples

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BEHIND IT ALL

This bit from AP's main story on the election offers a bit of context:

"The election emerged as a choice between two very different visions of government — whether it occupies a major, front-row place in American lives or is in the background as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise and entrepreneurship."

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OBAMA STAFFERS CELEBRATE

In Chicago, dozens of young staffers for President Barack Obama were streaming out of the president's campaign headquarters and heading to his victory party at the convention center. Senior advisers said the race was called much sooner than they had expected.

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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SENATE STILL DEMOCRATIC

Democrats have retained control of the Senate. That's a big help to newly re-elected President Barack Obama.

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OBAMA WINS RE-ELECTION

Barack Obama wins — he'll serve a second term as president after a hard-fought election.

AP is calling the presidential election for Obama after Romney lost Ohio and several other key states.

The Chicago convention center where Obama supporters have gathered to watch the results is exploding in joy and enthusiasm. Not so the Romney camp in Boston, which has been muted as results increasingly showed the tally of electoral votes rising in Obama's column.

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GRIM MOOD

The mood at Romney's headquarters event was grim. Staffers were beginning to trickle in, almost all expressing shock or surprise that so many states had voted for Obama.

Meanwhile, Fox News commentators were shown on two giant screens, questioning Ohio results. Asked if he believed Ohio was "settled," guest Karl Rove responded, "No," prompting cheers from the crowds.

"I think this is premature," Rove said.

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

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MCCASKILL WINS AFTER AKIN RAPE COMMENT

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat once thought to be one of the Senate's most vulnerable incumbents, held on to her seat in Tuesday's election as GOP challenger Todd Akin continued to face criticism for saying in August that women had ways of preventing pregnancies in the case of "legitimate rape."

GOP leaders, including Republican nominee Mitt Romney, called on him to abandon the race. Akin stayed in and hoped support from evangelicals would lift his prospects.

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WARREN OVER BROWN IN MA

Democrat Elizabeth Warren has defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

Brown came to the Senate in January 2010 after a surprise win in a special election to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. This year's senate campaign was one of the election season's most expensive, with the candidates spending $68 million. Brown vowed to be an independent voice in the Senate but couldn't hold on in a presidential election year in the Democratic-leaning state.

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MOURDOCK LOSES IN INDIANA

Republican Richard Mourdock — who slipped in the polls after saying during a debate that when a woman who is raped becomes pregnant, it's "something that God intended" — lost his U.S. Senate race in Indiana to Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly.

Mourdock is a tea party-backed state treasurer who surprised the GOP when he beat six-term Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary.

His debate comment last month re-shaped the tight Indiana race for the Senate.

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