"Thank you for believing all the way through every hill, through every valley," he said. "You lifted me up the whole way."
Dozens of Obama and Biden staffers gathered on the floor next to the stage for the speeches. Many stood with their arms around each other, some wiping away tears, as the president spoke.
As Obama was waving to the crowd one last time, Biden and his family walked off stage. Then the vice president peeked back around the blue curtains and gave a big wave and a grin to the cameras.
Campaign manager Jim Messina lingered on the floor long after the president left the stage, hugging friends in the crowd and wiping away his own tears.
The president's team had projected confidence for days, but nervously watched the election returns roll in Tuesday night. Even as the race appeared to be turning in Obama's direction, the staff was narrowly focused on Ohio, the Midwest swing state where Obama and Romney competed fiercely.
Despite their outward cool, Obama and his aides left nothing to chance. The president indulged his superstitions by engaging in a traditional Election Day basketball game with friends during the afternoon.
Obama's team won — his first victory of the day.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Jim Kuhnhenn at http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn