Barack Obama overcame racial barriers and held true to his campaign slogan, “Yes, we can,” to become the first black president on a historical Tuesday election night.
After winning key battleground states Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa, the 47-year-old Democratic senator took the election with 333 electoral votes, only needing 270. With only Alaska, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and North Carolina still to announce, John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona, had 156 electoral votes.
In Erath County, 77-percent of voters cast ballots for McCain and running mate Sarah Palin, while 23-percent voted for Obama and his future vice-president, senator Joseph Biden from Delaware.
After the returns, McCain addressed supporters at a post-election event in Phoenix.
“I had a chance to speak with President Obama earlier and congratulate him,” he said. “That he not only won this long, hard battle, but also inspired so many voters who felt their voices no longer mattered is to be commended. I hope you all join me in congratulating him.”
A crowd gathered together in Grant Park in Chicago to cheer Obama’s win and hear the president-elect’s first speech.
“On this day, in this election, at this historic moment, Americans came together to say ‘we believe in change,’” Obama told the emotional crowd who braved the cold. “I spoke with senator McCain and congratulated him and senator Palin on a long fight and I look forward to working with both of them to make this country great again. America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there!”
Obama left the stage as the crowd chanted “Yes, we can! Yes, we can!”
The 44th president and vice president-elect Biden will take the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009.
Obama has said his first order of business as president will be to tackle the economy and withdraw most of the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan within 16 months.