President Barack Obama celebrated his 2012 election victory over opponent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Chicago, Ill., using his reelection speech as an opportunity to repair the damage brought on by the hard-fought campaign.
Obama struck a gracious tone and congratulated Romney on a well-run campaign.
The President also extended a peace offering to Romney.
“The Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight,” said Obama. “In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”
Obama’s speech, which lasted about 20 minutes with breaks for applause, focused on the economy but hinted at issues the president hopes to tackle in his second term.
“You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours,” Obama said. “I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”
He specified his intent to reduce the deficit, restructure the tax code, reform the immigration system and reduce the U.S.’s dependence on foreign oil.
After his first presidential election victory, the president announced that he was getting his family a dog. He began this victory speech by telling the audience, “For now, one dog’s probably enough.”
Max Reinhardt, sophomore history and secondary education major, watched both the president’s and Romney’s speeches. Reinhardt is also a member of the College Republicans.
“I thought [Obama’s] was a very gracious speech, but at the same time, it was a retread of speeches we’ve heard from him between 2004 and 2008 about uniting red states and blue states,” Reinhardt said. “It turns out he’s been one of the most divisive presidents in history.”
Senior political science major Ally Blanck, president of the Young Democrats, said Obama’s speech went over well with her organization.
“We agree with the President’s message about moving forward and making sure that we get the America everyone wants, including people who didn’t vote for him,” Blanck said.
Romney’s speech, in contrast, lasted only about five minutes, and he used his time to thank his family, friends, campaign staff and supporters.
He conceded the election, saying he called Obama to congratulate him on his victory.
“I pray that the President will be successful in guiding our nation,” Romney said.
He reaffirmed his confidence in his vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“Besides my wife, Anne, Ryan was the best choice I ever made,” said Romney.
Romney made a point to play down partisan posturing.
“Our leaders need to reach across the aisles,” Romney said. “I ran for office because I’m concerned about America. The election is over, but our principles endure.”
Blanck commented on Romney’s speech, saying, “The Young Democrats agree that Mitt Romney’s concession speech was very tasteful and was a cordial ending to what was a very difficult campaign season.”
Reinhardt said he thought Romney’s speech was also very gracious.
“It was very statesmanlike,” said Reinhardt. “He has been campaigning since 2007, and to come so close and miss it—I really feel for him. It’s got to be a tough pill to swallow.”