BY ALEXA ALTMAN, MAGGIE HAYES AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA
President Barack Obama defeated former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, kicking off his second term.
“And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you have made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work we have to do and the future that lies ahead,” said Obama in his victory speech shortly before 2 a.m.
Around the time of his speech, the president had 303 electoral votes and Romney had 206, with Florida’s 29 electoral votes still pending.
The contentious campaign road led both major party candidates to swing states, including Ohio, Nevada and Pennsylvania, in the weeks prior to the election.
Obama won all three of those key states in addition to other important victories in Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Wisconsin.
Though media outlets declared the president the winner shortly after 11 p.m., the Romney campaign initially told MSNBC that it wasn’t ready to concede Ohio and its 18 electoral votes.
But as more results came in, it became more apparent that Obama would stay in the White House for four more years.
About 1 a.m., Mitt Romney gave his concession speech in Boston.
“I so wish I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader,” said Romney.
Less than 24 hours earlier, polls and political experts were still predicting a close race between both candidates who each had their ups and downs during the campaign.
The three debates between the presidential candidates preceding the vote caused the opponents to butt heads over domestic, economic and foreign policy issues. During the first debate at the University of Denver, critics felt the governor came out on top while the president fell short. However, in the second debate at Hofstra University, while discussing topics like the economic impact on recent college graduates, creating jobs and the country’s current financial deficit, Obama came out swinging.
Controversial issues surrounding the president included his economic policies and whether or not he was capable of easing the country’s debt. Romney was criticized for his inability to connect with those struggling to make ends meet – particularly among the middle and lower classes.