Obama wins election, makes history

McCain graciously concedes defeat, commends president-elect, VP running mate on their victory.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, AP
November 4, 2008 09:11
3 minute read.
Obama wins election, makes history

obama wins 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Americans sent a message to the world with their resounding vote in Tuesday's election, president-elect Barack Obama told the thousands of cheering supporters gathered before him in Chicago and the millions of people watching him around the world. Obama, who became the first African American elected president, promised "a new dawn of American leadership" to those watching him abroad, saying that "our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared." Scoring his historic victory in the midst of a searing economic crisis and an unpopular war, Obama conveyed a warming to America's enemies as well as encouragement to moderates. "To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you," he promised. And he declared that his election shows that America still offers hope for a better future and primacy in the battle of values and ideas. "To all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright, tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope." Less than an hour after sealing his hold on the White House, Obama and his wife, Michelle, stepped onto the stage holding the hands of their two daughters at a massive victory rally in Chicago's Grant Park. "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," the new president said. He spoke warmly of McCain, the 72-year-old Arizona senator who was his rival in the longest and most costly presidential campaign in American history. After McCain called Obama to concede victory, he spoke graciously of Obama at an outdoor rally in Arizona, commending the president-elect on his victory and emphasizing that he understood its special importance to African-Americans. "The American people have spoken, and spoken clearly," McCain told disappointed supporters in Arizona, many who booed and growled as he called for the nation to unify behind the victor and his running mate, Joe Biden. Obama, a 47-year-old Illinois senator and son of a white mother from Kansas and an African father from Kenya, mined a deep vein of national discontent, promising Americans hope and change throughout a nearly flawless 21-month campaign for the White House. Obama stepped through a door opened 145 years ago when Abraham Lincoln, a fellow Illinois politician, issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed African-Americans from enslavement in the rebellious South in the midst of a wrenching civil war. The powerful orator lays claim to the White House on Jan. 20, only 43 years after the country enacted a law that banned the disenfranchisement of blacks in many Southern states where poll taxes and literacy tests were common at the time. Cautioning Americans that the nation's problems were manifest, Obama said: "The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even 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." Democratic primary rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton promised Obama her full support and congratulated Americans for making him the 44th US president. "In quiet, solitary acts of citizenship, American voters gave voice to their hopes and their values, voted for change, and refused to be invisible any longer," she said in a statement. With victories in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other battleground states, Obama built a commanding lead over McCain after surging in the polls. He and his fellow Democrats sought to link McCain to the unpopular George W. Bush. Obama soared into the national spotlight with his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he was making his first run for the Senate and polishing his message of unity in a country that was mired in partisan anger. Democrats also were expanding their majorities in both chambers of Congress. Cheering, screaming and waving flags, an estimated 50,000-plus Obama supporters welcomed his election in a delirious victory celebration in the senator's hometown. They crammed into Grant Park to be a part of something that would be remembered for generations.

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