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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 18:54 GMT
US media: Bush rallies base
Republicans celebrate at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington
The night gave Republicans plenty to celebrate about
Democratic challenger John Kerry has admitted defeat in the US election, giving President George W Bush a second term in office.

However, for the second election in a row, America woke up to an inconclusive result in the race for president.

The US television networks were split on calling the race in the state of Ohio, whose 20 Electoral College votes held the key to victory in a cliffhanger election.

NBC and FoxNews projected that President Bush would win Ohio.

But remembering the mistakes in calling Florida too early in 2000, both CNN and ABC were much more conservative this time.

They said the race in Ohio was too close to call.

The state's newspapers were equally restrained. "The important thing is to get it right - no matter how long it takes," said the Cincinnati Post.

But ABC's George Stephanopoulos said that John Kerry faced too large of a margin to make up.

"I do not believe that this is something that will go on for days. This is just a fight over numbers," he said.

Although the network had not called the race, Mr Stephanopoulos slipped into talking about the election in the past tense.

Conservatives rally

But even before Mr Kerry conceded, Republicans had much to celebrate.

A Bush victory looked more likely as election night wore on, and they made gains in Congress.

George W Bush (L) and John Kerry
Mr Bush was confident; Mr Kerry has yet to concede
"From beginning to end, this election was about George W Bush, and he can claim that an apparently insurmountable lead in the popular vote vindicated his policies, his persistence, his personal qualities and his political strategy," wrote Todd S Purdum in the New York Times.

In the Washington Post, John Harris wrote: "George W Bush's presidency - its governance and its politics - was organised from the outset with an unwavering eye on keeping the conservative base of the Republican Party intact, energised and loyal."

And exit polls showed that morality and values were the issues motivating President Bush's core conservative supporters.

"This was not about a difference of policies but a difference over values," said David Gergen on CNN.

And he said that disagreement on social issues such as gay marriage might lead to division in the country and a sense of alienation for John Kerry's supporters.

For Democrats, "there will be a sense of isolation from the majority. A feeling of 'is this the country that we thought it was'?" Mr Gergen said.

Republican control of Congress

Mr Bush has won with a clear win in the popular vote, something that eluded him in 2000.

And Mr Bush will return to office with even stronger support in Congress, as Republicans built on their majorities in both the Senate and the House.

The Democratic Party is kind of in shambles
Chris Wallace, FoxNews
"He is going to have much more of a mandate," said FoxNews' Chris Wallace.

Mr Wallace said President Bush would press to make his tax cuts permanent.

And the president would "finish the job in Iraq" although it has proven much more difficult than he first thought, Mr Wallace said.

"And the Democratic Party is kind of in shambles," he said.

He pointed to Democratic party leader Tom Daschle's loss in the Senate. Mr Daschle was the first party leader to lose his seat since 1952.

ABCNews' Linda Douglass said, "The president could pretty much push through whatever he wants in the congress: Tax cuts, private investment accounts for Social Security, more restrictions on abortion rights, more moves to restrict gay marriage."

And she wondered what Democratic voters would do to pursue their issues.

"All those Democrats who lined up today to vote don't really have a vehicle," she said.




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