President Barack Obama says the American people have “picked ourselves up” and fought back during tough economic times, declaring after winning re-election that the “best is yet to come.”
Obama says he wants to meet with Republican rival Mitt Romney to discuss how they can work together. He says they may have “battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply.”
The president rolled to a second term over Romney, winning more than 300 electoral votes.
Obama was welcomed by thunderous applause as he arrived on stage in his hometown, joined by first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia.
Romney said earlier he called Obama to congratulate him on his victory, adding that he prays “the president will be successful in guiding our nation.”
Despite their outward confidence, Obama and his aides left nothing to chance. The president indulged his superstitions by engaging in a traditional Election Day basketball game with friends, as the race that will determine his political future was finally in the hands of voters.
The game resulted in Obama’s first victory of the day.
The president kicked off Election Day with a surprise visit to a campaign office near his South Side home.
Thunderous applause from about two dozen volunteers, many with tears streaming down their faces, greeted Obama. Removing his suit coat, he sat down to make some calls to volunteers in neighboring Wisconsin. “Let’s get busy,” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll have a good day,” he said on one call. “Keep working hard all the way through.”
Speaking to reporters afterward, Obama said: “We feel confident we’ve got the votes to win but it’s going to depend ultimately on whether these votes turn out.”
The president also congratulated his Republican rival Mitt Romney on running a “spirited campaign”, saying he knew the GOP nominee’s supporters were “just as engaged, just as enthusiastic” as his own.
Late Tuesday, Michelle Obama issued a message through Twitter thanking supporters: “I am so grateful to every one of you for your support and your prayers. -mo”
The president headed into Election Day locked in a close race with Romney, according to national polls. But he appeared to have a slight edge in some key battlegrounds that will decide the contest, including Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Obama said late Tuesday in an interview with Denver television station KDVR that he had prepared both a victory speech and a concession speech for election night.
“You always have two speeches prepared because you can’t take anything for granted,” Obama said. Romney on Tuesday told reporters he had only prepared a victory speech.
There was no traditional Election Day photo of Obama voting Tuesday because he did so in Chicago last week, part of his campaign’s effort to promote early voting. First lady Michelle Obama voted by absentee ballot.