Washington: The crowd was smaller than it was four years ago, and the venue was indoors, but President Barack Obama's victory party early on Wednesday shared a theme with his 2008 election night: hope.

Despite a rough economy that dulled the glow of being America's first black president, Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney in a hard-fought race for the White House and celebrated with confetti, hugs and a promise to represent everyone in the nation.

After months of no holds barred campaigning against Romney, the US President promised to work with his Republican rival to take the debt-ridden nation forward, saying that "the best is yet to come".

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'OUR ROAD IS HARD, JOURNEY IS LONG'

In his victory speech after storming to a second term, Obama said, "In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward."

"I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign," he said, addressing thousands of enthusiastic crowds in Chicago, his election campaign headquarters.

"We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honour and applaud tonight," 51-year-old Obama said.

"Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, 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," the US President said.

Obama will return back to Washington on Thursday. Earlier Romney conceded defeat, wishing Obama a successful second term in guiding the country through great challenges.

"I have just called President Obama to congratulate him, his campaign and his supporters on the victory. I have wished him, his wife and daughters," 65-year-old Romney told his cheering supporters shortly after networks declared his defeat.

OBAMA VS ROMNEY

During their campaign, Obama and Romney highlighted their sharp divisions over the role of government in Americans' lives, especially in bringing down the stubbornly high unemployment rate, reducing the USD 1 trillion-plus federal budget deficit and shrinking a national debt that has crept over USD 16 trillion.

Obama attributed his impressive victory in the presidential elections to his supporters across the country, who voted for him.

"I'm about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first. I want you to know that this wasn't fate, and it wasn't an accident. You made this happen," Obama said in an email to his supporters ahead of his victory speech.

"You organised yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign, five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn't easy, you pressed forward. I will spend the rest of my presidency honouring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started," Obama promised.

"But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place. Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests," he said.

It is understood that Obama called Bill Clinton, the former US President, thanking him for campaigning in his favour during the election.

"There's a lot more work to do. But for right now: Thank you," Obama said.

JPN/Agencies

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