REPORTED FROM CHICAGO — The wait is over. Following a grueling general election campaign in which President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney were neck and neck until the end, Obama won a resounding victory, making history once again.
"We are an American family. We rise and fall together as one nation, as one people," Obama said. "For the United States of America, the best is yet to come."
Obama also said that the public had voted for "action, not politics as usual," and that in the weeks and months ahead he would reach across the aisle to Republicans, including his chief opponent, Romney.
It was nearly 1:00 a.m. before Romney finally conceded the race, but when he did, he delivered heartfelt remarks congratulating the president and wishing him well. He also said the nation faces great challenges and that he prays "the president will be successful in guiding" it.
"The nation as you know is at a critical point and 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 people's work," Romney said.
The setting in the McCormick Convention Center where Obama's supporters awaited the results was far less glamorous than Grant Park four years ago. That night's unseasonably warm weather has been replaced by Chicago's signature blend of wet, cold and gray sweater.
But inside, the mood was no less celebratory. As in 2008, the crowd was fired up and ready to go. They cheered passionately, and sometimes riotously, for each Electoral College victory, whether it was New Hampshire's four votes or the the highly coveted 18 from Ohio, which tradition dictates no Republican can win the presidency without.
"I was hopeful but nervous because of how close Ohio and Florida were. So I'm just so elated that Obama was able to push through," Temprance Berry, 24, an "elated" full-time student at Chicago's Roosevelt University, told BET.com. "I'm quite speechless, and I'm still trying to soak it in. I've been waiting for this moment for the last couple of months and am just overjoyed he's been re-elected."
The president won his bid for a second term despite a national unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, an economy in which millions of Americans continue to struggle and fierce competition from Romney, proving that while the president still has a lot of work to do, Americans still believe in hope and change.
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(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)