Romney arrives to concede defeat in Boston. (AFP)
Pittsburg, Nov. 7: On the 523rd day of his second presidential campaign, the moment that had long eluded Mitt Romney, the candidate of so many missed political connections and unrequited electoral affections, arrived at last.
As his head of meticulous silver-and-black hair popped out of a plane here in a state he would lose within hours, his eyes caught the unfamiliar sight of a spontaneous outpouring of love: 1,000 or so strangers, lining the decks of a dingy parking garage above the tarmac to show their support and watch him perform the simplest of acts: walk off a plane.
Romney stared in disbelief, then walked up to a chain-link fence and placed a grateful hand over his heart.
“They were,” he said later of the crowd, “connected emotionally with me.”
It was, of course, too late.
For Romney, election day was a time to relish what he could — a race that had evolved, slowly, sometimes painfully, from what often seemed to be a frustrated movement against the president into an embrace, however tepid, of the Republican nominee by his supporters.
But bad news kept flashing across the two giant screens.
The evening was not without the drama that has come to mark so many recent elections: for more than 90 minutes after the networks projected Obama as the winner, Romney held off calling him to concede.
As the President waited to declare victory in Chicago, Romney’s aides were prepared to head to the airport, suitcases packed, potentially to contest several close results.
But as it became increasingly clear that no amount of contesting would bring him victory, he called Obama to concede shortly before 1am.
Hispanics made up an important part of Obama’s winning coalition, preliminary exit poll data showed. And before the night was through, there were already recriminations from Republican moderates who said Romney had gone too far during the primaries in his statements against those here illegally, including his promise that his get-tough policies would cause some to “self-deport”.