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WASHINGTON- President Barack Obama has been re-elected to a second term, defeating Republican Mitt Romney in a hard-fought race in which the economy was the dominant issue.

Voters decided to give Obama another four years of stewardship over an economy that is slowly recovering from the recession.

In his acceptance speech, Obama said the American people have "picked ourselves up" and fought back during tough economic times, declaring after winning re-election that the "best is yet to come."

Obama says 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."

Obama was welcomed by thunderous applause as he arrived on stage in his hometown, joined by first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia.

The president rolled to a second term over Romney, winning more than 300 electoral votes.

Obama captured battleground states including Ohio, Iowa and Colorado on his way to the 270 electoral votes he needed.

He alsowon the six electoral votes in Nevada, after dashing Mitt Romney's hopes in other battleground states, including Wisconsin.

As the returns came in, staffers with the Romney campaign in Boston expressed surprise or shock that so many states were landing in Obama's column.

Romney unsuccessfully campaigned on the theme that his business background gave him the experience needed to guide the nation out of tough economic times.

Obama will again be dealing with a divided Congress.

Democrats maintained control of the Senate and Republicans likely will again control the House.

Among the most pressing matters is the so-called fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to hit in January. Economists have warned that if they aren't averted, the nation could face another recession.

Obama tweeted to his supporters, "This happened because of you. Thank you."

A subdued Romney made a concession speech before supporters in Boston. He said he "left everything on the field."

Romney offered thanks to running mate Paul Ryan, who he called the best choice he ever made beside his wife Ann.

Romney asked for unity. He said the nation is at a critical point and can't risk "partisan bickering and political posturing." He urged supporters and Republicans to reach across the aisle.

The former Massachusetts governor, who lost nearly all the battleground states, called on all Americans to work to rebuild the nation. Romney called on job creators to invest and to hire workers.

He said Democrats should put the "people above politics."

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