NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A triumphant President Barack Obama heralded his re-election with a call to action early Wednesday, telling Americans that their citizenship doesn't end with their vote and declaring that the "best is yet to come."
Obama spoke to thousands of cheering supporters in his hometown of Chicago, praising Gov. Mitt Romney and declaring his optimism for the next four years.
1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reports
"While our road has been hard, though 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," he said.
Romney made a brief, graceful concession speech before a disappointed crowd in Boston. He summoned all Americans to pray for Obama and urged the night's political winners to put partisan bickering aside and "reach across the aisle'' to tackle the nation's problems.
Obama rolled to a second term over Romney, winning more than 300 electoral votes. With returns from 88 percent of the nation's precincts, Obama had 55.8 million, 49.8 percent of the popular vote. Romney had 54.5 million, or 48.6 percent.
Florida, another Obama state four years ago, remained too close to call.
Of his contest with Romney, he said they may have "battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply."
The president said he wants to meet with Romney to discuss how they can work together and said he was willing to work with leaders of both parties to tackle upcoming challenges.
1010 WINS' Gene Michaels reports
In New York, thousands of voters came to the Crossroads of the World to mark the moment as Obama locked in another four years at the White House.
"He made history -- four more years," one man celebrating in Times Square said. "He's a phenomenal president, a phenomenal example to the world, to the United States."
"I think this is really exciting and I think it's the right direction for the country to go," said another.
Many in the crowd included tourists who said they wanted to be a part of American history.
The race for president was precariously close and politically divisive. Many in the Tri-State area said this was the most important election of their lives -- not because of who won or lost, but because of the act of casting a ballot.
"It's what we do in this community," said Frank McGuire. "We vote. We're a very patriotic community."
McGuire and his wife Maureen lost their Queens home and everything in it a week ago when Superstorm Sandy slammed the region.
But from the battered landscape of Breezy Point to the beaches of Staten Island, people were determined to exercise their American right.
"Our backbone is patriotism and to get together stay together, vote and be together as a community which will never be exactly like it was before," said Maureen McGuire.
Democrats retained control of the Senate with surprising ease. With three races too close to call, they had the possibility of gaining a seat.
Republicans won the House, ensuring that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Obama's partner in unsuccessful deficit talks, would reclaim his seat at the bargaining table. With numerous races as yet uncalled, the size of the GOP majority was unknown.
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