With “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” by Stevie Wonder booming in the background, the First Family of the United States strode onto the stage early Wednesday at McCormick Place in Chicago to address tens of thousands of supporters –– and millions worldwide –– about his gratitude for another four years in the White House.
Before Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha left the stage, Sasha, the younger daughter could be seen telling President Barack Obama to turn around and acknowledge the supporters behind him.
When the president started to speak the crowd chanted, “Four more years.”
Obama rolled to a second term over Republican nominee Mitt Romney, winning more than 300 electoral votes.
“Tonight in this election you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come,” he said.
Obama’s campaign was relishing a hard-fought victory for the presidency, capping a re-election bid that hinged heavily on aggressive voter registration and turnout efforts.
He thanked Romney for a hard-fought campaign.
Romney conceded defeat shortly before Obama graced the stage.
“This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation,” Romney said.
“I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference,” the president said.
The confetti fell after Obama finished his acceptance speech. Then he was joined by his family and Vice President Joe Biden and his family. Supporters stood, cheered and waved American flags.
An ecstatic crowd had been assembling inside McCormick Place for hours, watching the returns on giant screens before erupting in a deafening roar and a swirl of waving flags at the news that he had won.
“I’m Obama, all the way. … He supports the poor and working class better than anyone I’ve seen in a long time.” — John Taylor, 67, of Chicago, a policy adviser for the Catholic church.
Supporter 32-year-old Angela Burke has been working at Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago. She says she feels the same enthusiasm as four years ago.
“He did a really good job with the military. He made a lot of families happy,” said 63-year-old Marine veteran and Wallace Thomas of Chicago, referring to Obama’s ending the war in Iraq and drawing down troops in Afghanistan.
Dignitaries and celebrities were in the crowd too. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush were all at the rally. Actresses Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard and Vivica Fox were also on hand to celebrate the victory.
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.
Obama was joined by former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, childhood friends Mike Ramos and Marty Nesbitt, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former captain of Harvard’s basketball team.
Others who played included Obama’s chef Sam Kass, first lady Michelle Obama’s brother Craig Robinson, former Bulls player Jeff Sanders, and Alexi Giannoulias, the former Illinois state treasurer and 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate nominee.
Kathy Chaney, Ryan Moye and the Associated Press contributed to this report.