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Midterm elections: What's happening now

By Emanuella Grinberg, Jim Kavanagh and Mallory Simon, CNN
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Obama: Power rests with people
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Obama acknowledges his policies haven't done enough to earn voters' confidence
  • Christine O'Donnell bitter over GOP establishment's failure to support her
  • Harry Reid says he's ready to compromise
  • Tea Party-backed S.C. governor-elect says people found 'power of their voice'
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- Here's what you need to know right now about election results, their impact and how politicians are reacting:

Reid is 'begging' for Republican input

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted Wednesday he's committed to building consensus with Senate Republicans, telling reporters he is "begging for Republican input."

But the man who had to come from behind to retain his Senate seat also criticized his GOP counterparts for obstructing much of the legislative agenda Democrats laid out in the last two years.

Reid acknowledged the Republican takeover of the House and gains in the Senate mean there's a new political reality on Capitol Hill and said that collaboration is in order. But, he said, Republicans could have already been cooperating.

"I think that every piece of legislation that we passed had to jump through all the procedural hoops to do. Each one of those we could have improved the legislation with some Republican input, but they simply weren't willing to work with us. That is where they came up with the designation of the party of no," he told reporters at a news conference.

Pelosi reflects on time as Speaker

In her first interview since Democrats lost control of the House, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her leadership, saying she had no regrets.

"We believe we did the right thing and worked very hard to convey that to the American people," Pelosi told ABC's Diane Sawyer on Wednesday.

Pelosi expressed sadness over the losses dealt to her colleagues that will not return to Congress for another term. She also said she has a "good rapport" with the likely new House Speaker, Ohio Rep. John Boehner.

The California Democrat and grandmother of eight declined to say what she would do next, but said she would pray and consult her family before she makes any decisions. She said she is grateful for her time as Speaker.

"I relish that, I treasure that, but it was in its time and in its place, and now it's time to move on."

Boehner says Obama health plan on the block after GOP wins

Voters have given Republicans a mandate to cut government and roll back the Obama administration's health care "monstrosity" in the next Congress, the incoming speaker of the House of Representatives said Wednesday.

Rep. John Boehner, Republican-Ohio, is poised to lead the House following the GOP's massive gains in Tuesday's midterm elections. He told reporters that he and President Obama have agreed to work together but called the results a vote for "a smaller, less costly, more accountable government."

And the administration's hard-won overhaul of the U.S. health care system ultimately will be on the block, he said.

"The American people are concerned about the government takeover of health care," Boehner said. "I think it's important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity and replace it with common-sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance in America."

African-American Republicans to serve in same Congress

For the first time since 1997, two African-American Republicans will serve concurrent terms in the House of Representatives.

Of the 14 African-American GOP candidates on the ballot last night, only Allen West, Florida-22, and Tim Scott, South Carolina-01, defeated their Democratic opponents. West defeated two-term incumbent Rep. Ron Klein in south Florida, while Scott fills an open seat vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Henry Brown Jr.

Candidates in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia all lost their bids.

The last African-American Republican to serve in the House was Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, who served from 1995 to 2003. Former Connecticut Rep. Gary Franks served from 1991 to 1997. Their overlapping years marked the last time two African-American Republican lawmakers served in the House.

Obama blames economy for Democratic 'shellacking'

President Obama on Wednesday blamed the anemic economy for the "shellacking" his fellow Democrats experienced in this week's midterm elections, acknowledging his policies hadn't done enough to bring down high unemployment.

His administration has "stabilized" the economy and spurred private-sector hiring, "but people all across America aren't feeling that progress," Obama said the day after Republicans seized majority control of the House and whittled down the Democratic majority in the Senate.

"I've got to take direct responsibility for the fact that we have not made as much progress as we need to make," he said.

"If right now we had 5 percent unemployment instead of 9.6 percent unemployment, then people would have more confidence in those policy choices."

Cue the 'Slurpee Summit' puns

President Obama and the likely House Speaker may be at odds on many fronts, but the two have at least one thing in common -- their taste for Slurpees.

During a mostly somber post-midterm election news conference, President Obama was asked if he planned to have Rep. John Boehner over to the White House for a slurpee, a reference to his oft-used campaign trail metaphor in which he describes Democrats working to "dig the car out of the ditch" while Republicans sit back "sipping on a Slurpee."

Obama's face lit up when a reporter mentioned the sugary slush, replying, "I might serve a slurpee. They're delicious drinks," Obama said amid laughter from the press corps.

Boehner's spokesman had this response:

"Let's hope the president will be willing to work with us to cut spending, stop the tax hikes, and get our economy working again," Michael Steel said. "Then we can all go get Slurpees together. The new 'Wicked Apple' favor sounds awesome."

Obama takes responsibility for anger about economy

President Obama said Wednesday that every election reminds America that "in our democracy, power rests not with those of us in elected office but with the people we have the privilege of serving."

In remarks to the press, Obama said he recognized that people are "deeply frustrated" over lingering hardship amid the slow recovery from economic recession.

He said the result of the election "underscores for me that I've got to do a better job, just like everybody else in Washington."

When it comes to whether Obama, the Democrats and Republicans will be able to work together to get anything done in Congress, Obama admitted both sides have "certain principles that cannot be compromised," but the American people expect them to work together to solve the nation's problems.

Obama acknowledged the general frustrations going into the midterm elections, but he also said he thought it would be a "misreading" of the results if anyone believed the American people want to spend the next two years trying to "relitigate" health care reform and other major legislation of his first two years in office.

However, many Republicans have began making rally calls to appeal "Obamacare."

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Obama later reaffirmed his call for extending Bush-era tax cuts for most Americans.

"We've got some work to do to make sure that families are not seeing a higher tax burden, which is what will happen if Congress doesn't act," he said.

Boehner ready to 'turn this ship around'

Rep. John Boehner said in a press conference that Tuesday night's election results show it "is the time for us to roll up our sleeves and go to work."

"It tells me that what we need to do is to listen to the American people," he said in a press conference Wednesday. "They sent a very loud message last night, not only to the House and to the Senate, but if you see the number of Republican governors that won, the number of Republican legislative bodies that won, it's pretty clear the American people want a smaller, less costly, more accountable government here in Washington, DC. And if the American people see us doing things that they're telling us to do, I think we'll do just fine."

Boehner, who is expected to become the new House Speaker, also said that he plans to work on making policy decisions based on what Americans want -- not just because it is what the president wants.

"We're determined to stop the agenda Americans have rejected and to turn this ship around," he said. "We'll work with the administration when they agree with the people and confront them when they don't. Choosing, I think what our friends on the other side learned, is that choosing the president over your constituents is not a good strategy."

Nikki Haley vows to make more history

Nikki Haley, the first woman elected governor of South Carolina and the first woman of Indian descent elected governor of any state, said she hopes to really make history with the work that begins in January.

Haley, a Republican state representative, defeated Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen after a bitter campaign.

"This was people finding the power of their voice," Haley said on "American Morning." "This was people saying, 'We want government to remember who it is that they work for. We want government to know the value of a dollar, and we want jobs and the economy to come first.' This was all about the people saying, 'We've had enough.'"

Haley, who enjoyed strong support from Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement, said government will stick to the basics under her administration.

"We look at the fact that government was intended to secure the rights of the people; it was never intended to be all things to all people," Haley said.

"And certainly, when you give a man a job you give a man pride. We're going to give a lot of pride to the state of South Carolina."

She said she hoped her Indian heritage makes people proud but doesn't want that to be her legacy.

"As historic as I think a lot of observers are going to say this is, I hope what's historic is the work that we do in January and the things we get done in the first year of our Haley administration. ...

"We're proud for the women in this country. We're proud for the Indian-American community. We're proud for our families. But most importantly we're proud for the state of South Carolina."

Indiana's Pence wants to 'rip up' health care act

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, who last night won his sixth consecutive term in office, said he saw the Republican victories as a direct message from the American people.

"I think the message coming out of last night's historic election is the American people want to see an end to the federal runaway with money and government takeovers," he said.

Pence also said he and the rest of the Republican Party are excited "to be worthy of the second chance the American people have given us."

And he pointed at President Obama's health care policy as part of the reason for the Republican gains Tuesday night.

"Obamacare was roundly rejected. We need to rip it up, root and branch," he said. "The American people don't want to be mandated to purchase health insurance. ... They don't want all the new taxes that come with it."

And he said Republicans won't just repeal the health care legislation, they'll replace it with a lower-cost option that Americans want.

Still, he said, last night wasn't just entirely about the Republicans, it was about their supporters who demanded their voices be heard.

"I don't see last night so much as a victory for one party or another," he said. "I see it as a victory for the American people. And I think they are going to stay engaged in this process."

When it comes down to it, Pence told CNN, loosening the government's role was the key to getting the country back on track.

"You get government out of control, you get government out of the way, and the economy will come roaring back," he said.

Christine O'Donnell bitter at own party

Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party-backed Republican Senate candidate in Delaware who lost badly to Democrat Chris Coons, says her own party hurt her chances by failing to support her.

During an interview on "American Morning," she disagreed with analysts who said she and some other Tea Party candidates lost because their positions were too far to the right.

"When you look at our ticket, it was a straight-ticket loss for the top statewide Republicans," she said. "If it were about me personally, my margin would have been much greater than it was. Honestly, what I think it was, it's a symptom of Republican cannibalism.

In other areas where the establishment Republican didn't win their primary, the local Republican parties united right away. Solidarity goes a long way. Unfortunately, that never happened in Delaware, and I think we felt the impact all the way down ticket."

O'Donnell said the Republican establishment failed her when she was hit with political attacks and jabs -- including comedian Bill Maher's damaging old tapes of O'Donnell talking about her dabbling in witchcraft as a teenager.

"Had, when all that stuff came out, the establishment come out and helped carry that load, helped deflect some of that so it wasn't just on us to defend against these ridiculous accusations, these mischaracterizations of who I am ... there was verbal support that they could have offered as pundits, so to speak, that they chose not to for whatever reason -- sore feelings, whatever."

She focused her bitterness on leading Republican strategist Karl Rove.

"Had Karl Rove been more supportive, we wouldn't have had a lot of that pressure" of being an underdog candidate," O'Donnell said. "... I think that had Karl Rove immediately come out to support us, had the (National Republican Senatorial Committee) even just helped verbally, we would have been able to close the gap."

She said the Republican Party could learn a lesson from the way the Democratic Party came together after the 2008 presidential primary season.

"Hillary (Clinton) immediately got behind Obama after that bloody primary. We should have done that."

Part of complete coverage on
The Results
Which states helped to swing the House balance of power? See detailed results for ballot measures and races for House, Senate and governor.
Polling Center
See if polls matched up with election results. CNN's Polling Center offers comprehensive election data from national and state pollsters.
The Basics
Now that the voting is over, who are this year's winners and losers? How will the new House and Senate change key issues that affect millions?
iReport Election Project
A snapshot of the nation's political pulse. See how participants measured up to our mobile iReport election challenge.
The Issues
Get in-depth information about the issues that are most important to Americans and join the debate.
Political Ticker
Keep up with the latest headlines in the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections from the Best Political Team.
 
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