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Monday, January 26, 2015  

‘I used to vote Republican, but it disgusts me today’
WASHINGTON Chanting “Four more years!” and “USA, USA!,” a crowd of several thousand well-wishers danced and waved flags outside the White House late on Tuesday after Barack Obama was swept back into office.

Crowds braved the chilly autumn weather as they rushed towards the president’s official residence, whooping and crying out “Obama, Obama!,” and giving high-fives to complete strangers.

Union activist Nicole Arow, 28, said she was “thrilled and relieved” to learn about the Democratic incumbent’s victory over Republican rival Mitt Romney, adding: “Joy. That’s what I feel.”

Downtown Washington, usually deserted at midnight on a weekday, was teeming with cars, drivers honking their horns in celebration and waving US flags out the windows.

Obama became only the second Democrat to win a second four-year White House term since World War II.

Those who arrived at the White House shortly after US television networks called the race for Obama appeared to be mainly college students, but the party quickly grew to include middle-aged people and parents with young children.

Hope Cordova, 46, was one of the few who remembered to bring a campaign sign — in her case, a plastic blue-and-white Obama-Biden 2012 yard sign.

“It takes more than four years to turn the country around. We want to give him four more years to complete his job,” said Cordova, 46, a California real estate agent who was visiting a Washington-based friend.

Overcome by enthusiasm, a rowdy group borrowed her sign to wave outside the White House gates. The group jumped in unison as friends took pictures and amateur video with the iconic building in the background.

“I’m incredibly excited,” gushed Justin Pinn, a 22-year-old student at Georgetown University. “I feel that my hope is renewed and I’m ready to fight the good fight. It’s a great day to be an American!” he said.

The outpouring of enthusiasm was reminiscent of the spontaneous celebrations that broke out in Washington immediately after Obama won the 2008 presidential election over Republican Senator John McCain.

“Oh my God, oh my God, I am so excited,” said Jill Zaggo, a Broadway actress. “With Romney I was so scared he would cut all the fundings for the arts. And we love arts.”

“We are ecstatic,” echoed Chloe Loi, her eyes disappearing behind a large cap. Mark Schneider, a 52-year-old telemarketer, was more serious. “This has been a very stressful campaign,” he said. “The country feels very divided.”

A native of Massachusetts, where Romney served as governor, Schneider said the Republican could have harmed the country.

“But much will depends on what the Congress will do, it won’t be easy,” he added. “I used to vote Republican, but it disgusts me today with the Tea Party.”

Nearby, four Occupy Wall Street protesters were spoilsports, shouting “we want real change.”

“Obama is the less of two evils,” said Jesse Marcus, who described herself as a student and an activist. “But it won’t make much difference. When you have a political system dominated by money.”

The scene at Times Square came as New York continued to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that hit the region last week and left a path of destruction in its wake.

A reminder of the hardship faced by many residents was a Red Cross volunteer with a sign asking for donations to help storm victims.

Elsewhere in Manhattan, CNN lit up the top of the Empire State Building with patriotic red, white and blue lights to portray poll results.

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