(ABC) — What a year that was: A hotly contested presidential election on top of the usual political gridlock.
To win a second term, President Obama had to overcome a well-funded opponent, a struggling economy and voters’ doubts that he had the right agenda to turn the nation around.
And after a roller coaster primary and general election season, he got them.
Mitt Romney may have started as the front runner, but to win the Republican nomination, he had to fend off some feisty challengers:
“He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama,” says former candidate Rick Santorum.
Newt Gingrich added, “The odds are very high I’m going to be the nominee.”
And overcome self-inflicted wounds.
“I like being able to fire people who provide services for me,” Romney noted in one campaign event.
After nearly 50 primary contests, Romney finally clinched the nomination and it was on to the general election.
“It will be a choice between two…” said the President.
“Two very different paths,” Romney added.
Their battle focused on the economy, the overwhelming top issue to voters.
Romney: “We can’t afford another four years like the last four!”
Obama: “We need more tax cuts for working Americans.”
But early on, two key moments changed the subject – and helped the President
“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” the President noted in an interview with ABC News.
The Supreme Court also upheld the requirement that every American buy health care.
In June, President Obama announced a new policy that would allow at least 800,000 young immigrants facing deportation will be allowed to stay in the U.S.
“In their hearts, in their minds, they are Americans through and through, in every single way but on paper,” the President noted.
And he was rewarded on election day.
Hispanics made up 10 percent of the electorate this year – and the President won 71 percent of them.
Mr. Obama had the power of the Presidency, but he also had his own missteps, which kept Romney in the running.
“You didn’t build that,” the President said during one campaign stop.
Neither side saw a major bounce out of their conventions. Both may be remembered for moments that didn’t come from the candidates.
“What? You shut up,” said actor Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention.
Just as Romney’s campaign was hoping to hit the reset button, another major self-inflicted wound
Romney: “There are 47% who are with them, who believe they are victims.”
Pundits declared doom for the Republican contender, but the President didn’t even bring that up in their first debate – given Romney a convincing win and a burst of life in the national polls.
Then, a late October surprise from Mother Nature that put the campaign on hold: Superstorm Sandy
That resulted in strange political bedfellows.
“I want to thank the President personally,” said Romney supporter and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
By the end of this long, nasty campaign, millions of Americans felt the same as this sobbing four-year-old.
“I’m tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney,” said young Abigael Evans in a YouTube video.
On November 6, a historic re-election win for President Obama, who picked up every critical battleground state.
There were tears in Boston…
“I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction,” Romney said in his concession speech.
And jubilation in Chicago, as the President looked ahead to four more years
“I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever.”