BOSTON (AP) -- Republican Mitt Romney conceded defeat in the presidential contest early Wednesday, saying the nation had chosen Barack Obama to remain president for another term and that it was time for the nation to unite behind him.
"This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation," Romney said.
Romney spoke to cheering supporters in a hotel ballroom in Boston. The former Massachusetts governor said he was proud of the campaign he had run but that voters had made another choice.
Romney thanked his running mate Paul Ryan, saying that besides his wife, Ann, the Wisconsin congressman was "the best choice I've ever made." Romney predicted Ryan would have a bright future serving the nation.
Romney struck a note of bipartisanship after the bitterly fought contest, saying elected officials must find common ground.
"We can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to work across the aisle to do the people's work," Romney said.
It was a bitter loss for Romney, who lost decisively to Obama after portraying the Democrat as out of his depth and unsuited to steer the nation's limping economy. Romney hoped to convince voters that his background as a successful private equity investor gave him the experience Obama lacked to boost the slow economic recovery.
Instead, Romney saw nearly all the major battleground states tip Obama's way including Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia and Ohio, the hardest fought prize.
Romney supporters cheered a win in North Carolina, which Obama captured four years ago. But it was a rare prize in an evening that broadly favored the president.
The Republican nominee spent Election day campaigning in Ohio and Pennsylvania, a Democratic-leaning state that Republicans hoped to put in play. Obama won Pennsylvania Tuesday.
Romney told reporters he had written a victory speech that he thought would conclude his yearslong quest for the presidency.
"I feel like we put it all on the field. We left nothing in the locker room. We fought to the very end," Romney told reporters aboard his plane.
BOSTON (AP) -- Mitt Romney has conceded defeat in the presidential contest.
The Republican nominee told supporters he would pray for Barack Obama's success in leading the nation.
Romney thanked his running mate Paul Ryan, saying the Wisconsin congressman had a bright future in the GOP.
Romney lost nearly all the major battleground states to Obama including Ohio, the hardest fought prize.
The former Massachusetts governor said it was time to put aside partisan bickering and work together for the good of the country.
His reach for the presidency thwarted, Romney stayed out of sight late Tuesday as news organizations including The Associated Press announced that President Barack Obama had won a second term.
Dejected Romney supporters milled around a hotel ballroom where the Republican hopeful had planned to declare victory and groaned as key battlegrounds moved Obama's way.
Obama's victory in closely fought Ohio narrowed Romney's path to the 270 electoral vote. The Democrat also was declared the winner in other swing states including New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa. Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Republicans hoped to put in play, stayed in Obama's camp as well. Florida and Virginia remained too close to call.
Romney supporters cheered a win in North Carolina, which Obama captured four years ago. But it was a rare prize in an evening that broadly favored the presidency.
Romney staffers almost all expressed shock or surprise that so many states had voted for Obama. Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was watching returns with family in the same hotel where Romney and his family watched results.
The Republican nominee had already written a 1,118-word victory speech that he thought would conclude his yearslong quest for the presidency. Earlier Tuesday, Romney said he had no regrets no matter the outcome.
"I feel like we put it all on the field. We left nothing in the locker room. We fought to the very end, and I think that's why we'll be successful," Romney told reporters aboard his plane as he flew from Pittsburgh to Boston, where preparations were underway for a big election night event at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.
Romney's son Craig appeared briefly in the ballroom early in the evening to warm up the crowd. Craig Romney said that after his father dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination in 2008, Ann Romney had been opposed to another run but eventually changed her mind.
"We're grateful that she convinced him to get into the race because we know that my dad has been uniquely prepared," he said.
The GOP nominee had spent Election Day doing a last-minute round of campaigning in one state he's showered with attention, Ohio, and another he's largely ignored, Pennsylvania. After voting near his Boston-area home, Romney was betting that an eleventh-hour appeal to working-class voters in both states would help him defeat Obama.
"This is a big day for big change," Romney told staffers and volunteers at a Cleveland-area campaign office.
On his campaign plane in between flights, he worked on his speech. He said he hadn't written a concession speech, though he acknowledged the results might not come out in his favor. "Nothing is certain in politics," he said.
Ryan followed a similar strategy for courting voters on Election Day. After voting in his Wisconsin hometown, the GOP vice presidential hopeful joined Romney in Ohio before a scheduled solo visit to Richmond, Va.
Asked about the hectic schedule in recent days, Ryan said of Romney: "He's kind of operating on fumes."
Romney's focus on Ohio is not a surprise. He has spent more time campaigning there over the last year than any other state. And no Republican has won the presidency without carrying the Midwestern battleground.
But Romney has spent very little time in Pennsylvania, which hasn't supported a Republican presidential contender in nearly a quarter-century. As polls showed the race tightening there, Romney launched a statewide advertising campaign just last week.
Dismissed as desperation by Democrats, the Pennsylvania trip will at the very least send the message that Romney did all he could to deny Obama a second term.
"We can't let up now. We need to keep going until the final polls close tomorrow night," Romney political director Rich Beeson wrote supporters Monday. "With an election this important, let's leave it all on the field."
AP Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta in Washington and Associated Press writer Philip Elliott in Richmond Heights, Ohio, contributed to this report.
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