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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Minute by minute, fighting until the end

BOSTON - After a long day of travel, including more than four hours of flight delays, we finally checked into the Revere Hotel just before 7 p.m. We quickly changed and headed off to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC), the central hub of Election Night 2012 for the Romney/Ryan campaign. We are based in the Press Filing Center, which is playing host to hundreds of reporters from around the world as they cover the GOP side of the presidential race. Here is a minute-by-minute account of the night's events.
7:08 p.m.: We are dropped off by our cab at the BCEC and make our way to the security check-in. The building is lit up with red, white and blue, and loads of Republicans, young and old alike, are being bused to the center.
7:36 p.m.: After some major help from our media contact, we head through security and make it into the Press Filing Center, which is only about half full. Fox News and CNN are playing on two large screens in the front of the room, flanking a stage. The first few rows are for the traveling press - The New York Times, Newsweek and The Los Angeles Times, to name a few. There is even a spot for Canal+, a French network. The major broadcast and cable networks - Fox News, ABC News, NBC News and so forth all have their own rooms.
7:44 p.m.: We receive word in the Press Filing Center that Romney's plane has landed in Boston, and hopefully is on his way to the BCEC.
7:48 p.m.: In news back home, Notre Dame alumnus Joe Donnelly is deadlocked at 47 percent with Republican competitor Richard Mourdock in the race for Indiana Senator. Donnelly, who also graduated from the Notre Dame Law School, leads Mourdock by just over a thousand votes.
7:51 p.m.: 41,557 tweets per minute are sent with the hashtag "#election2012," according to Fox News. That is some serious thumb exercising out there.
8:05 p.m.: We eat some food. Polenta, pork, garlic chicken and artichoke - It's pretty good, except they ran out of dessert.
8:09 p.m.: We are reminded that while it is America who is choosing its president tonight, the entire world is watching the election. We have run across members of the press with accents that run the gamut from French to German, British to Indian.
8:15 p.m.: It is interesting to see the rate the different networks are reporting the results of states' electoral votes. Fox News is way ahead, counting 78 for Obama and 82 for Romney while CNN is at a more conservative 64 for the President and 56 for the former Massachusetts governor.
8:20 pm.: And Domer Joe Donnelly is ahead by almost 40,000 votes according to CNN. If elected, he would be the first Irish alum in the Senate in modern history.
8:27 p.m.: CNN just showed a shot of huge crowds outside in Chicago supporting Obama. We saw no such thing on our way into the BCEC - Boston may be Romney headquarters, but Massachusetts is a solidly "blue" state.
8:51 p.m.: CNN was just cut out for a moment for Fox News. We almost lost Anderson Cooper for a moment, but thankfully he is back on the big screen.
9:00 p.m.: 14 states with 156 electoral votes just closed their polls. Also just in - Michigan, Romney's home state where his father was once governor, will send its 16 electoral votes to Obama
9:05 p.m.: Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, a Notre Dame alumnus, phones in to the BCEC on a video screen and offers thanks to the Republican volunteers who have gathered in Boston. He said he looks forward to calling the Republican candidate "President Romney" come tomorrow morning.
9:07 p.m.: CNN declares GOP will maintain lead in the House of Representatives and the foyer at the BCEC erupts with applause.
9:31 p.m.: Are we headed for Armageddon? Fox News has the two candidates in a tie; Romney and Obama are locked at 153 electoral votes.
9:39 p.m.: Romney senior strategist Ed Gillespie takes the stage at BCEC and said he is "optimistic and confident" about the ballots rolling in around the country.
9:40 p.m.: Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio comes in via videoconference, saying this is the campaign he has most enjoyed being a part of. He said the Republican campaign "channeled energy and enthusiasm of Mitt and Paul" in his home state.
10:03 p.m.: More states polls just closed, including several swing states. All of a sudden, the Fox News anchors are going crazy with the video screen and potential outcomes of states swinging either "red" or "blue." Technology at its finest.
10:15 p.m.: A Spanish-language network just was reporting next to our desk in the Press Filing Center. The back half of the room is pretty full, but as you get to the front of the room with larger media outlets, it is largely empty. Only a few members of the Romney traveling press are here.
10:30 p.m.: According to Twitter, the 2012 election has already become the most tweeted-about U.S. political event in history. No surprises there. In other news, Romney is ahead of Obama by nearly 1.5 million votes in the popular votes - but is in the fight of his life for electoral votes.
10:40 p.m.: And we have switched to local news at the Press Filing Center, as incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts has lost to Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. Brown is giving a concession speech, and is gracious in defeat.
11:01 p.m.: With many West Coast states' polls closing, Fox News has Obama leading Romney in Electoral College votes, 244 to 193. He needs just 26 more to clinch the presidency. Several swing states' ballots - including Ohio, Florida and Nevada - are still being counted.
11:10 p.m.: CNN projects Obama will win Iowa. From the shots of Chicago, it looks like the crowd is going wild.
11:12 p.m.: Fox News has Obama within eight electoral votes of the presidency. The network projects him winning the crucial battleground state of Ohio.
11:14 p.m.: NBC has declared Obama the winner of the 2012 presidential election. Phones are starting to ring at the BCEC Press Filing Center, and for the first time of the night, there is a palpable buzz in the room.
11:18 p.m.: Fox News and CNN have called it too. Time to get to work in the Press Filing Center - keys are being pattered at, all sorts of foreign language chattering is flying back and forth and phones are ringing off the hook.
11:25 p.m.: Now Fox News is claiming they may have projected an Obama win in Ohio win too early, as the candidates are neck-and-neck with 72 percent of ballots reported. According to one Fox News correspondent, Romney's staff in Boston is "frantically crunching numbers" and is not prepared to make a concession speech.
11:44 p.m.: According to an aide, Romney is not ready to concede. Supporters are sticking around the BCEC ballroom. It looks like we may be in for a long night. Of note is that Romney still has a comfortable lead in the popular vote.
11:59 p.m.: Candy Crowley of CNN says the BCEC contingent is a "quiet crowd" and says Romney is still not ready to concede.
12:07 a.m.: Although the network says there is no word on a concession call from Romney to Obama Fox News is talking about the Republican candidate's post-campaign life. Crowd shots of BCEC ballroom are somber. It looks like the beginning of the end.
12:28 a.m.: "What's [Romney] doing really, sobbing uncontrollably?" says the Canadian reporter behind me. The press is antsy for some sort of indication as to when Romney plans to come out concede the race.
12:32 a.m.: Still waiting on any word as to when Romney plans on addressing the crowds here at the BCEC.
12:35 a.m.: Obama is finally ahead in the popular vote, according to CNN.
12:50 a.m.: We hear Mitt Romney is to speak at 12:55 a.m. EST.
12:55 p.m.: Romney takes the stage at the BCEC ballroom to raucous applause, announces he has called President Obama and conceded the race. "I pray that our president will be successful in guiding our nation," he said to the audience.
1 a.m.: Romney wraps up his concession speech. "We have given our all to this campaign. I so wish, I so wish, that I had been able to fulfill your votes to lead the country in a different direction," he said. "But the nation chose another leader, and so Ann and I join with you to urgely pray for him and for this great nation."
1:37 a.m.: Obama takes the stage in Chicago with Michelle, Malia and Sasha in tow to deliver his victory speech.
1:59 a.m.: Obama has wrapped up his victory speech. After nearly seven hours at the BCEC, we're ready to wrap this puppy up. Romney lost and Obama won, but it was an incredible experience to be in Boston covering the event.