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Obama wins re-election, warns of challenges ahead

Updated On: Nov 07, 2012

US President Barack Obama has claimed victory in the presidential election, after his Republican rival Mitt Romney conceded. Mr. Obama has attributed the win to support from ordinary Americans, but warned of challenges ahead for the country.

Obama’s Victory

Based on current unofficial returns, Mr. Obama has 303 electoral college votes to 206 for Romney, after a projected win in Ohio took him over crucial 270 vote margin. Mr. Obama also took Virginia, as well as the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado, according to media projections. A CNN report said Mr. Obama lead by 40,000 votes with 75% of the unofficial national tally counted.

Analysts say the Obama administration's response to the recent hurricane helped Mr. Obama's standings, and that the Republican party had not managed to reach ordinary voters as well as they had hoped.

Speaking in Chicago, Mr. Obama praised the Republican candidate for a hard-fought campaign and said he would consult with Mr. Romney about key issues in the coming days.

In his victory speech, Mr. Obama said ordinary citizens had determined the election.

"Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama spoke about the need to go forward, with the end of US military commitments elsewhere in the world and a changing economic situation. He also warned of challenges ahead.

"Progress will come in fits and starts. It is not always a straight line. It is not always a smooth path."

"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have learned from you. I will return to the White House more determined and inspired than ever. Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual," he added.

In his victory speech in Chicago, Mr. Obama identified his priorities as deficit-reduction, an overhaul of the tax code, "fixing our immigration system" and energy independence..

On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama called congressional leaders from both parties to discuss "finding bipartisan solutions" to deficit-reduction, taxes and jobs, a White House statement said.

China's Reaction

Many in China are hoping that the end of the election campaign will mean an end to China-bashing in the US. During the campaign, both President Obama and Mr. Romney had promised to get tougher with Beijing. Mr. Romney had reiterated his decision to brand China as a currency manipulator, while Mr. Obama had mentioned his administration's challenging China on trade disputes at the WTO level.

According to an editorial by China's official Xinhua news agency, ahead of the final results,“If scapegoating and vilifying China are merely campaign tricks, with the heated campaign drawing to an end, it is time for whoever the president-in-waiting is to tone down his tough rhetoric and adopt a more rational stance".

Online polls conducted by the Global Times and Sina Weibo show most Chinese citizens - 81% and 78% in the informal polls - preferred Mr. Obama to be re-elected instead of Mr. Romney.

Report: Obama takes key battlegrounds to win re-election [CNN, 7 Nov 2012]

Analysis: China Voice: As U.S. elections wind down, so might China-bashing [Xinhua, 6 Nov 2012]

Report: Young Chinese focus on CPC congress, US election [China Daily (Xinhua), 6 Nov 2012]

Foreign Policy Challenges

Beyond relations with China, dealing with Iran’s nuclear programme is probably the biggest foreign policy challenge of President Obama’s second term. A new round of international talks with Iran is due at the end of the month, and Mr. Obama signalled during the campaign that his administration is prepared to negotiate one-on-one with Tehran.

Meanwhile, many in Syria's opposition are hoping for greater international involvement in their country's crisis. The opposition is meeting in Qatar this week to build a new front that could win international recognition. But even in a second term, Mr Obama is likely to remain very cautious towards Syria and avoid taking a lead role that drags the US into a regional conflict.

Although Mitt Romney had taken the harder attitude in the presidential campaign, many Syrians in the opposition argued that Barack Obama, in a second term, would be willing to take greater risk to accelerate the Syrian dictator’s demise.

Mr. Obama also faces diplomatic challenges in dealing with the Eurozone economies. He will have to do so with a new Treasury secretary – as Tim Geithner is expected to leave shortly. As the biggest contributor to the International Monetary Fund, the US will have to weigh in on Greece, where the IMF is pushing Eurozone countries to provide significant debt relief as part of an overhauled bailout to be agreed next week. The US may also have to take a position on whether Spain should apply for EU assistance.

Analysis: Barack Obama has another chance to deliver his foreign policy promises [The Guardian, 7 Nov 2012]

Analysis: The Foreign Policy Inbox [Financial Times, 7 Nov 2012]