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Obama: ‘We have picked ourselves up,’ fought back

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CHICAGO — 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 offered a call for reconciliation after a divisive election, but defended the freewheeling nature of politics and said big decisions "necessarily stir up passions."

Obama said he wants to meet with Republican rival Mitt Romney to discuss how they can work together. He says they may have "battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply."

The president rolled to a second term with more than 300 electoral votes.

Obama spoke to an ecstatic crowd crammed into the cavernous McCormick Place convention center in Chicago's lakefront. Obama appeared about two hours after he was declared the victor in his re-election bid and less than an hour after Romney offered a cordial concession.

The president took the stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia.

Romney said earlier that he had called Obama to congratulate him on his victory, adding that he prays "the president will be successful in guiding our nation."

The president's team had projected confidence for days, but nervously watched the election returns roll in Tuesday night. Even as the race appeared to be turning in Obama's direction, the staff was narrowly focused on Ohio, the Midwest swing state where Obama and Republican Mitt Romney competed fiercely.

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Jim Kuhnhenn at http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn