Late Tuesday night, Karl Rove made quite the show of challenging Fox News' projection that President Obama had won Ohio, and thus a second term in office. Mitt Romney's staff was likewise ready to deploy to the Buckeye State and a trio of other battleground states to challenge the election-night tallies. For a moment, however brief, a prolonged political and legal fight over who had won the election appeared well within the realm of possibility.
Then the man who had been running for president for the lion's share of the past decade called off the recount fight before it began.
On Tuesday night, a crestfallen Mr. Romney and his family watched as the television networks showed him losing all but one battleground state. Even as the networks declared Mr. Obama the winner, Mr. Romney, who had earlier told reporters he had written only a victory speech, paused before the walk downstairs from his hotel room in Boston. It was 11:30 p.m., and Romney field teams in Ohio, Virginia and Florida called in, saying the race was too close for the candidate to give up. At least four planes were ready to go, and aides had bags packed for recount battles in narrowly divided states. Bob White, a close Romney friend and adviser, was prepared to tell the waiting crowd that Mr. Romney would not yet concede.
But then, Mr. Romney quietly decided it was over. “It’s not going to happen,” he said.
As Ann Romney cried softly, he headed down to deliver his speech, ending his second, and presumably last, bid for the White House. Four decades earlier, his father and inspiration, George Romney, a former Michigan governor failed in his own such quest.