An ebullient President Obama declared victory in his hometown Chicago early this morning, promising that “the best is yet to come.”
“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,” Obama told a crowd of about 10,000 supporters at McCormick Place.
The president strolled onstage holding hands with his younger daughter, Sasha, and accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and older daughter, Malia. He walked slowly, circling the stage and soaking in cheers and chants of “four more years!”
Obama spoke graciously about his opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, saying “we may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply.”
“From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service, and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight,” Obama said.
Obama added that he plans to sit down with Romney in the coming weeks to “talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”
In a speech that at times resembled a civics lesson, Obama shined a positive light on a combative political process that frustrates many Americans.
“Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated,” Obama said.
“These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty,” he added. “And we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now, just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots, like we did today.”
The president proclaimed his campaign team to be the best in the history of politics, saying he “will always be grateful for everything that you’ve done and all the incredible work you’ve put in.”
Obama also praised his family, saying he has never loved his wife more and that he has been proud “to watch the rest of America fall in love with [her], too, as our nation’s first lady.”
Sasha and Malia, he said, are “growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful women.”
His supporters in the convention center exuded joy and affirmation, with a tinge of relief and even some surprise at Obama’s margin of victory. After waiting for hours for the president, the crowd matched the pinnacles of his speech with cascading applause; as Obama neared the end of his address, the noise drowned out a few of his words.
Obama concluded with a unifying message that recalled the “red state, blue state” speech he delivered at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, an address that launched him to national prominence.
“We are not as divided as our politics suggest,” Obama said. “We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.”