Victorious Barack Obama vows to be president for all
BARACK OBAMA today promised to be a president for all Americans as he became the first black man to be elected to the White House.
The 47-year-old Democratic senator from Illinois took 52 per cent of the popular vote against 47 per cent for Republican rival John McCain.
And he won in most of the knife-edge states, securing at least 349 electoral college votes to Mr McCain's 162.
The Democrats also strengthened their hold in both the Senate and Congress to make Mr Obama's victory complete.
Right up until election day, there had been fears that despite Mr Obama's lead in the polls, a hidden racial factor could yet lead to defeat.
But Mr Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and a white woman from Kansas, scored sweeping wins across the country and triumphed in the majority of the battleground states.
And early this morning the new president-elect told an ecstatic crowd in his home town of Chicago that change had come to America.
He said: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
"It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America.
"And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too."
He spoke of the challenges ahead as "the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century".
He said: "The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there."
And he urged a new spirit of service and sacrifice. "Let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."
Mr Obama appeared on stage with his wife Michelle and young daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven, at his side.
And he paid tribute to his Republican opponent.
"Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader."
And he said he wanted to work with Senator McCain and Governor Palin "to renew this nation's promise" in the months ahead.
"Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long."
The first polls in the US closed at midnight UK time, and just a few minutes later the first predicted results, drawn from exit polls and early vote counts, came in. Mr Obama took the lead just after 1am, when Pennsylvania, with 21 electoral votes, was called for the Democratic candidate. Just after 2am Ohio went Mr Obama's way. No Republican has ever captured the White House without first winning Ohio.
By 3am Mr Obama won Iowa, where his landmark run for the presidency began in January with a surprisingly strong victory in the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses.
With just two minutes to go before the polls closed in California, Virginia declared for Mr Obama taking his electoral votes to 220.
And at 4am, the television networks, knowing California's 55 votes would take him over the magic 270 limit, declared him the victor and the 44th president of the United States.
When Mr McCain phoned to congratulate him, Mr Obama said he wanted to sit down soon with the veteran Arizona senator and see how they could work together.
In his concession speech to a crowd of supporters in Phoenix, Arizona, Mr McCain said: "My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly."
He congratulated Mr Obama on his victory. And he continued: "This is an historic election, and I recognise the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
"Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face."
Mr Obama's victory comes 45 years after the height of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King. The new president-elect was born at a time when African Americans were still battling segregationist policies in the South and his dramatic rise could help the United States bury its long history of racial tensions.
Civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Rev Jesse Jackson, who was with Martin Luther King when he was assassinated 40 years ago, joined the celebrations in Chicago, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Blacks and whites celebrated together in front of the White House to mark Obama's win and Bush's imminent departure. Cars jammed the downtown Washington streets, with drivers honking horns and cheering.
Mr Obama's victory was today being seen as a decisive rejection of the last eight years of President George W Bush. Democrats tried to present the prospect of a McCain victory as a vote for another term of Bush policies.
And pundits said it was Mr McCain's inability to shake off the association with Mr Bush which helped lead to his defeat.
Mr Obama's administration is expected to adopt a multilateral approach to foreign and domestic policies – very different from his predecessor – but there is speculation that he will invite some senior Republicans to serve in his government.
He will not be installed as president until January 20, but the work of transition will start immediately.
2012 ODDS OUT
BARACK OBAMA is already odds-on favourite to win the 2012 US election, according to a leading bookmaker.
A spokesman for Paddy Power said Obama is 4-5 favourite to win the next presidential election.
They have made John McCain's vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin 3-1 favourite to win the Republican nomination in 2012 and 7-1 to beat Obama in that election.
Odds are also available on who President Obama will choose as his Secretary of State.
Diplomat Richard Holbrooke is 9-4 favourite with Anthony Lake and Richard Lugar sharing the 7-2 second-favourites tag.
An outside bet is former two-time Democratic president Bill Clinton at 33-1. His wife, Hillary, is at odds of 66-1 to get the job.
Brown praises new leader's 'vision for the future'PRIME Minister Gordon Brown today said he was looking forward to working with the new US President.
In a statement, he said: "The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is vital to our prosperity and security.
"Barack Obama ran an inspirational campaign, energising politics with his progressive values and his vision for the future.
"I know Barack Obama and we share many values.
"We both have determination to show that government can act to help people fairly through these difficult times facing the global economy."
Conservative leader David Cameron said: "In electing Barack Obama, America has made history and proved to the world that it is a nation eager for change."
First Minister Alex Salmond sent a message to Mr Obama, saying: "On behalf of the people of Scotland, I send you my heartfelt congratulations on a wonderful and historic election victory – it ushers in a new era of hope for the United States and its role in the world. This was a victory for optimism over pessimism, for hope over fear."
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Monday 20 May 2013
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