Obama wins, pledges to ease bitter partisan divide

2012-11-08 02:28:09 GMT2012-11-08 10:28:09(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

A triumphant President Barack Obama pledged to ease the bitter partisan divide on display during his grueling battle for re-election and sure to carry over into his second White House term, while the most pressing of many urgent economic problems looms with a "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year.

Obama, America's first black president, easily captured far more than the 270 electoral votes needed for victory over Republican Mitt Romney and further cemented his place in history, despite having his first term dominated by stubbornly high unemployment and widespread anxiety about the country's future.

Obama's re-election to another four-year term should guarantee the future of his signature legislative achievement, a health care overhaul, which Republicans hoped to overturn. Internationally, it means the United States is likely to continue a foreign policy emphasizing multinational partnerships in dealing with issues such as Syria's civil war and Iran's nuclear program ? an approach Romney derided as weak.

Obama offered a call for reconciliation but made clear he intended to pursue the goals that eluded him during his first term amid fierce Republican opposition: changes in the tax code, immigration and tackling climate change.

For the United States, "the best is yet to come," he said. Yet he hinted at fights to come, saying big decisions "inevitably stir up passions."

"That won't change after tonight and it shouldn't," Obama added. "These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty."

It was a far cry from the Obama of four years ago, the son of a white American mother and a Kenyan father whose improbable election captivated the world with his message of hope and change and pledges of bipartisanship that would change the way things are done in Washington.

Those lofty ambitions quickly sank into the quagmire of a punishing economic recession and crashed into a united Republican Party that, determined to deny Obama a second term, fought him at every turn.

Obama's narrow lead in the popular vote will make it difficult for him to claim a sweeping mandate. With returns from 94 percent of the nation's precincts, Obama had 58 million, 50 percent. Romney had 56 million, or 48 percent of the popular vote.

The election did nothing to end America's divided government. The Democrats retained their narrow majority in the Senate, while the Republicans kept firm control of the House of Representatives.

That means Obama's agenda will be largely in the hands of House Speaker John Boehner, the president's partner in unsuccessful deficit talks.

The vanquished Romney tried to set a more conciliatory tone on the way off the stage.

"At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering," Romney said after a campaign filled with it. "Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work."

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that his party would not easily abandon its goals of lower taxes and steep spending cuts.

"The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president's first term," said McConnell, frosty in his postelection remarks. "Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office."

Obama had a sizeable victory where it mattered: in the competition for electoral votes. He had at least 303 votes to Romney's 206.

The election emerged as a choice between two very different visions of government: Obama's - as a major, front-row player in Americans' lives, or Romney's - as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise and entrepreneurship.

The economy was rated the top issue by about 60 percent of voters surveyed as they left polling places. But more said former President George W. Bush bore responsibility for current circumstances than Obama did after nearly four years in office.


Editor: Mei Jingya
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