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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

At Watch Parties, Congressional Leaders Take In Election Results

With the White House and the Senate up for grabs on election night, Congressional leaders from both parties staked out corners of Capitol Hill to take in the results.

At the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, near the White House, Republicans were met with disappointment when the results began to show that they would not win 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the Senate from Democrats as they had hoped.

Guests mingled to country music and ate sliders, falafel and chicken-on-a-stick while the results came in on a large screen tuned in to Fox News. But they began leaving as the Senate moved further out of reach. By the time cable news networks began calling the presidential election for President Obama, only a few hundred guests remained.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, was expected to speak but did not. Earlier, Mr. Priebus had celebrated having “a party that's functional and operational again” and promi sed to reappear minutes later.

“All I can say is, Wow,” said Collin Raye, a country singer, who performed after the presidential race was called.

The mood had shifted dramatically from earlier in the evening, when Republicans won the House. Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, his leadership job presumably secure for the next Congress, practically galloped on stage to claim the victory. “Heeeeey, Republicans!” he bellowed.

Speaking under a billowing American flag, Mr. Boehner said that over the past two years, House Republicans had defended Americans against a government that spent, taxed and borrowed too much. Going forward, Mr. Boehner said Republicans were willing to work with whoever won the White House to address pressing issues like the “staggering” national debt, and to devise laws that support small businesses, create jobs and grow the economy, just as long as the solutions don't involve raising taxes.

“ With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates,” he said.

He ended by saying that Republicans were “humbled” to keep their majority and made a promise to voters that “we will never let you down.”

Nearby at the Liaison Capitol Hill, a hotel, Democrats gathered in a humbler setting - a conference room. Some people sat on the floor with their legs crossed and coats draped over their laps. Cheers rippled through the crowd as the party picked up Senate seats in Indiana, Massachusetts and Missouri - tightening its hold on the chamber - and again when the networks called the presidential race for President Obama.

“People this is what happens when your No. 1 goal is to defeat the president and not work to get legislation passed,” the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said minutes after the networks began projecting Mr. Obama's re-election. He could barely get through his speech without spontan eous eruptions from the crowd.

Eyes and ears were on Representative Nancy Pelosi though, who did not mention her role as House minority leader after the party failed once again to clinch the 25 seats needed to control that chamber. But little could dampen the crowd's spirits: House or no House, they went on to chant “four more years.”