Jane Prendergast reports:
With the whole country watching, Ohioans on Tuesday helped re-elect President Barack Obama, continuing the battleground state’s decisive role in a race of unprecedented intensity.
Obama defeated Mitt Romney, with some states still to come in, once he hit the 270 electoral college votes. That total came while the race was still tight in Ohio, but the networks went ahead and called the race for Obama because the still-out Ohio counties were in urban areas that were expected to go for Obama anyway.
The president acknowledged the win at 11:19 p.m., via Twitter, saying: “We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are. Thank you. -bo.” He also tweeted a picture of him hugging his wife, Michelle.
He emailed supporters, telling them Tuesday’s decision was not fate.
“I want you to know that this wasn’t fate,” he wrote, “and it wasn’t an accident. You made this happen.”
The Romney campaign initially refused to concede they’d lost Ohio. Gov. John Kasich said at almost midnight that he was waiting for more information before making any statements.
As of midnight, with 88 percent of Ohio precincts in, Obama had 49.6 percent to Romney’s 48.7 percent, a difference of about 50,000 votes. Obama carried Ohio with 51 percent of the vote in 2008, over U.S. Sen. John McCain.
Hamilton County, which Obama won in 2008, went for him again, 51.7 percent to 46.9 percent.
Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said four words will go down as one of the most important reasons that Romney fell short in Ohio. Those words: “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”
Obama portrayed Romney in visits to Ohio as an auto-industry killer who’s out of touch with hard-working folks. He and Vice President Joe Biden hammered hard on their bailout of the auto industry, repeating over and over that one in eight jobs in Ohio is related to making vehicles
Redfern, asked about a Democratic opponent for Kasich in 2014, said, “We’re coming. We are coming…We’ll celebrate for a few days and then we’ll get back to work.”
Republicans were leaving their party at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Columbus even as Treasurer Josh Mandel was conceding defeat. Worse news was coming, and they knew it. Obama won Ohio and the presidency.
Party leaders disappeared, retreating one floor up from the second floor ballroom to their war room, where the press was not allowed. Before midnight, crews were tearing down risers, shutting down the sound system and lights.
One of the few Republican leaders to emerge from the third floor was Ohio Sen. President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond. Term-limited, Niehaus was looking more relaxed than most folks at the Republican gathering. He was pleased with his party maintaining a significant majority in his chamber.
He said Romney’s problem in Ohio was that his message about improving the country’s economy didn’t resonate as well here.