Ben Johnson


Romney concedes race, cites faith, family as backbone of America

Ben Johnson

CHICAGO, November 7, 2012, ( – Capping off a hard-fought presidential victory, President Barack Obama addressed an adoring crowd in Chicago by promising to continue his task of remaking America.

“The task of perfecting our union moves forward,” he said. “As it has for two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts.” 

He told his supporters – whether “black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American…abled or disabled, gay or straight” – that “I believe we can seize this future together.”

Obama thanked “the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics,” whom he referred to as “family.” He called his campaign volunteers, which Buffy Wicks has tried to build into a body of community organizers, to stay active after the election. “The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote,” he said.

Coming the stage to the strains of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” at about 12:30 a.m. local time, he thanked Mitt Romney and complimented the Romney family tradition of public service, which included Mitt’s father, George, and his mother, Lenore.

It was a welcome moment of conciliation in a bruising and personally negative campaign.

“Political campaigns can seem small, even silly,” Obama admitted, saying Americans share the same desires. “We want our children to grow up in a world that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality.”

Despite winning a squeaker of an election Obama promised to move aggressively forward with his political aims. “Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual,” he said.

His speech hinted at a future agenda of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, supporting the DREAM Act, and promoting greater use of green energy.

A different mood pervaded Mitt Romney’s concession speech half-an-hour earlier.

Before polls closed Tuesday Romney said he had “only written one speech at this point,” a victory speech running more than 1,100 words. The tone had to be changed to fit the electoral vote.

After thanking his wife and supporters, he said he and running mate Paul Ryan had “left everything on the field.”

He said the two had “given our all to this campaign,” which cost both parties a crushing $2 billion.

A different emphasis guided his speech, as well, as Romney hailed faith and family as the backbone of America.

“We look to our pastors and priests, and rabbis and counselors of all kinds, to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built,” he said, including “honesty, charity, integrity and family.”

“In the final analysis, everything depends on the success of our homes,” he said.

It was an uncharacteristic note in a campaign that focused almost exclusively on the state of the economy – a theme Romney thought would lift him to victory. 

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In the end, exit polls showed nearly as many voters trusted Obama to handle the economy as Romney.

“I believe in America,” Romney said. “I believe in the people of America.”

Romney said he hoped Obama succeeded in leading the nation.

In his victory speech, Obama promised to reach across the aisle – beginning with Romney personally – to build support for his policies.

Reviving the transcendent themes of the 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that launched him to prominence, Obama closed his speech with rising cadences, declaring, “We are more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.”

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