In spite of localized victories and a pull-no-punches campaign, Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney was unable to unseat President Barack Obama, who was projected the winner of the 2012 election around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday night, and formally accepted in the early morning hours of Wednesday.
He told cheering volunteers and supporters at the McCormack Center in Chicago, “We may have battled fiercely, but it‚??s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future.”
Romney ran on promises to restore an economy that had faltered under Obama and to revive a job market that has yet to emerge from four years of recession, touting his strong record as a business manager and fiscal wizard. He promised to strengthen a Defense Department facing brutal cuts under the Obama administration and to toughen American foreign policy. But Obama was able to keep Romney at bay by promising that the change he had promised in 2008 would be realized in full in a second term.
Though the Republican ticket had the momentum following a strong series of presidential debates, it couldn‚??t make up sufficient ground in the crucial swing state of Ohio, which proved finally to be the campaign‚??s Waterloo.
Republicans were hopeful that Romney had an outside chance of winning the blue-leaning battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but all these were called for Obama early in the night.
This drove Romney‚??s necessary path to victory through Florida and Virginia, which both remained too close to call late into Tuesday night.
Ohio proved even more of a challenge. Early voting counts showed Obama holding a slight lead in the state, and he never lost it, finally securing the state‚??s 18 electoral votes in projections and winning four more years in the White House.
After a number of the major news networks, including Fox News, projected that Obama would win Ohio, Fox analyst Karl Rove took issue with the call. With 74 percent of the vote counted, Rove said he wanted to see more results from the Republican-leaning Hamilton County and to broaden the results beyond a possible skew from early voting returns.
Possibly because of Rove‚??s doubts, Romney waited until after 12:30 a.m. EST Wednesday morning to make his concession call to the president. Citing confidence in a win, the campaign had admitted it had not prepared a concession speech for election day.
But Romney‚??s speech, if brief, was heartfelt and warm.
‚??I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. I wish all of them well,‚?Ě Romney said. ‚??This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.‚?Ě
Though it was apparent Romney was smarting from the bitterness of his unexpected loss, he was nonetheless gracious, urging his supporters to reach across the aisle and do what was best for the country.
‚??The nation as you know is at a critical point,‚?Ě he said. ‚??At a time like this, we can‚??t risk partisan bickering and political posturing.‚?Ě
The speech lasted under five minutes. Crowds of Obama supported watching the speech from Chicago joined the Boston crowds in applauding Romney as he embraced his family and exited the stage for the last time.
In his victory speech in Chicago, Obama returned the olive branch, offering to sit down with Romney in coming weeks to discuss a way forward for the country.
‚??While our journey has been long we have picked ourselves up and we have fought our way back,‚?Ě he said. ‚??We know in our hearts that for us in America, the best is yet to come.‚?Ě
Though the Romney campaign lost nearly every key swing state, it made some crucial gains over the bar set in John McCain‚??s 2008 campaign. Indiana and West Virginia flipped back to the Republican ticket, and the campaign pulled off a satisfying swing state win in North Carolina. The campaign may have contributed to another key Republican win in the Tarheel state as well: Pat McCrory defeated Democratic candidate Walter Dalton to give North Carolina its first Republican governor in 20 years.
Obama‚??s public inauguration will be held in Washington, D.C. Jan. 21, 2013.