The Obama family takes the stage in a delirious Chicago, to strains of Stevie Wonder’s, “Signed, sealed, delivered I’m yours.”
Ecstatic applause. The president applauds the applauders. A thousand cameras flash. Flags wave. He waits. Smiles. “Four more years,” they chant. “Thank you. Thank you so much,” he says.
He then delivers a long, impassioned address, of which the following are snatches, as accurate as we could make it as we typed along. Forgive any errors:
“Tonight, 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you… because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression…
“We are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.”
“In this election… you reminded us that while our road has been hard… 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.”
“I want to thank every American who participated in this election — whether you voted for the very first time or waited in lined 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.”
He says he spoke to Romney and congratulated him n a hard-fought campaign. “We may have battled fiercely, but it is only because we love this country.”
He praised the Romney family legacy of public service, which “we honor and applaud tonight.”
He says he’ll sit with Romney in the weeks ahead, to discuss ways of working together to move the country forward.
He thanks America’s “happy warrior” Joe Biden, the best vice president anyone could ever hope for. And he says he “wouldn’t be the man I am today” were it not for Michelle. “Michelle, I’ve never loved you more. I’ve never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you too as our nation’s First Lady.” He says his daughters are growing up to be two strong, smart women just like your mother. But “one dog’s probably enough.”
He thanks the “best campaign team in the history of politics. The best. The best ever.” Tumultuous applause. “All of you are family, no matter what you do or where you go from here… You lifted me up the whole way, and I will always be grateful for everything you’ve done…”
Political campaigns can seem small, even silly — fodder for the cynics, he says. But out on the campaign trail, there’s a different reality, he says. He mentions the “deep patriotism of the military spouse.” Elections matter, he says. “It’s not small. It’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated… Each of us has deeply held beliefs… When we make big decisions as a country it necessarily stirs passions… That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t…
“We can never forget that as we speak” people in different lands are risking their lives for a chance to argue, and to speak their minds. “Despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future.” Good schooling. To be a global leader in innovation, with all the new jobs that follow. An America that isn’t burdened by debt, weakened by inequality, or “threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
Americans want a country that is safe — defended “by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever known.” A country that moves beyond war to shape a peace based on dignity. A generous, compassionate, tolerant America.
We need to go forward to that vision, he says. “We will disagree about how to get there… Progress will come in fits and starts.”
He speaks of consensus and compromise, that begin in a “common bond.” The economy is recovering. “A decade of war is ending.”
“I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you’ve made me a better president… I return to the White House more determined than ever,” he says.
“You voted for action, not politics as usual.” He promises to work with the opposition. “We’ve got more work to do.”
The role of citizen “does not end with your vote,” he adds. Self-government is “the principle we were founded on.”
America is exceptional because of the bonds of shared destiny, obligations to one another — “responsibilities as well as rights” — love and duty and patriotism — that’s what makes America great.” Huge applause.
He speaks of soldiers who returned to service after losing a limb. He speaks of rebuilding in New Jersey “from the wreckage of a terrible storm.” He speaks of a family’s battle with their daughter’s leukemia.
He says he’s proud to lead America. “Despite all the hardship we’ve been through… I’ve never been more hopeful about our future… I ask you to sustain that hope. I’m, not talking about blind optimism… wishful idealism… Hope is that stubborn thing that insists… something better awaits us” if we keep reaching, working, fighting.
“We can build on the progress we’ve made,” he says. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white… rich or poor… gay or straight.. “you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try… We can seize this future together…
“We were made more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are the United States of America,” he concludes. “We live in the greatest nation on earth…. God bless you. God bless these United States.”
That was a hugely passionate speech. Big and bold and strong on the imperative for consensus. Intended to transform and unify a divided nation.
The music wells up again. Springsteen, his rock star supporter this time. A song called “We take care of our own” — a cynical, bitter song that Obama plainly wants to reclaim. “We take care of our own / Wherever this flag’s flown.”
Netanyahu has congratulated Obama. This afternoon he will meet with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro. “The strategic alliance between Israel and the United States is stronger than ever,” Netanyahu says. “I will continue to work with President Obama to ensure the vital security interests of Israeli citizens.”
A good place to end this night-long live blog. Thanks for sharing it with us.