Updated: 3:21 a.m.
Voters granted President Barack Obama another four-year term, capping the most expensive and divisive national campaign in memory and ensuring at least two more years of divided government in Washington, D.C.
Obama declared victory in a 22-minute speech in Chicago, thanking his supporters as well as those of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“We are an American family and we rise and fall together as one nation and one people,” he said, predicting that despite the nation's challenges, “the best is yet to come.” Obama made a bipartisan appeal, graciously thanking Romney and his family for choosing public service. “I look forward to sitting down with Gov. Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”
The network and Associated Press calls that Obama would defeat Romney led to deafening chants of “Four more years! Four more years!” at Democratic election headquarters in Washington earlier in the night.
Romney conceded the election in a brief speech at 12:55 a.m., offering his congratulations to Obama. “I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation,” Romney said in Boston. The clearly pained candidate thanked his family and his supporters and called on the nation to come together. “The nation as you know is at a critical point. ... Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.”
Obama’s win — built on key swing states including Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire, will give him a second term in a deeply divided nation, and he will be facing a similar lineup in Congress, which has thwarted the bulk of his agenda for the past two years. In his victory speech, Obama said he looks forward to working with leaders of both parties on dealing with the deficit, immigration, tax reform and getting off of foreign oil.
“We’ve got more work to do … but that doesn’t mean your work is done,” he said. "Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And 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."
On Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a sharp statement demanding that the president move in the GOP’s direction.
“Now it’s time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office," he said in a statement given to the Louisville Courier-Journal. "To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way.”