Published on November 19th, 2012 | by Alex Veeneman
VIDEO: Obama Wins Second Term in Presidential Office Over Gov. Romney
Alex Veeneman, Opinions Editor
Michelle Villalobos, Special Projects Editor contributed to this story.
Video above: Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential election victory speech.
President Barack Obama won a second term in office in the Nov. 6 election.
Obama had 303 electoral votes, while the Republican nominee Mitt Romney had 206. The result was declared after Obama won the swing state of Ohio, a core part of the U.S. auto industry that was bailed out during his first term. Voters had been in favor of the bailout, which was the primary reason in the state backing Obama, according to an exit poll conducted for the Associated Press and television networks.
Speaking at his campaign headquarters in Chicago, Obama said despite differences in voters, Americans all showed a common bond for the future of the country.
“We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers, a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow,” Obama said in a transcript released from the White House. “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt; that isn’t weakened by inequality; that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
Obama added that Americans inspired him to be a better president.
“Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over,” Obama said. “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. With your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do, and the future that lies ahead.”
At his campaign headquarters in Boston, Romney said the U.S. was at a critical point.
“At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing,” Romney said, according to a transcript from NPR. “Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion. I believe in America. I believe in the people of America.”
Romney added that he hoped he could have fulfilled the wishes of his supporters to take the U.S. in a new direction.
“But the nation chose another leader,” Romney said. “And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.”
In congressional elections, the Republicans retained the majority in the House of Representatives while the Democrats retained the majority in the Senate. Many individuals and investors have expressed concerns that negotiations with Democrats and Republicans would break down as federal cuts and tax rises are due to automatically take effect Jan. 1 if a deal is not met.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner, in a press conference, said they were ready to be led.
“Mr. President, this is your moment,” Boehner said. “We’re ready to be led, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans. We want you to lead, not as a liberal or conservative, but as president of the United States of America.”
Dr. Joseph Gaziano, professor of political science, said he was surprised to see how easily Obama was re-elected.
“It seems to me that this was an excellent chance for the Republicans to make him a one-term president — high unemployment, poor economy, involvement in two wars and a rising deficit,” Gaziano said. “The fact that the Republicans could not win points to a fundamental weakness in the Republican Party. It appears that they are not able to compete nationally. Until they are able to crack the coalition that won it for Obama, they are not going to win the presidency.”
Gaziano added that Obama’s style of negotiations would be crucial into the performance of his second term.
“The president faces two problems that are discussed in the news today: divided government and the fiscal cliff, that is, automatic tax increases and spending cuts,” Gaziano said. “As for divided government, the question is whether or not the president will find a way to work with the Republicans, something he was unable to do in the past two years.”
Gaziano added that the difference in the political tone will depend on the politics.
“It is almost a given that the parties will do nothing to make each other look good in the year before a presidential election, but now that the election is behind us, they may be willing to work together,” Gaziano said. “It all depends on the ability of the Republicans to control their tea party contingency and the president’s ability to develop a capacity to use the resources of the office to get his way with Congress.”
Victor Barcenas, senior political science and human resources major, said the support from African-American and Latino voters gave Obama a huge advantage.
“Romney put up a good fight, which made it a close race,” Barcenas said. “If you look at the popular vote, you can see that the country is almost split in half. But at the end, Obama won the electoral votes.”
Barcenas added that the election demonstrated the need for Obama to work with Republicans, and many Americans expected more from Obama.
“In the next four years, Obama will have to demonstrate to his supporters if it was worth voting for him again,” Barcenas said. “He can leave the country in a better condition than when he came into office, or a worse condition. The uncertainty will still remain.”
Barcenas added that Obama will face the challenge of a divided Congress, and that Republicans will need to re-evaluate.
“Republicans were hoping to get a majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, but they were only able to get a majority in the House,” Barcenas said. “I think Republicans will need to re-evaluate their strategy over the next few years to see how they can attract more voters to gain control of Congress again.”
Obama said that the U.S. can build on the progress it has made by working together.
“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.”