[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/05/art.us.troops.ap.jpg caption="Troops stationed abroad watch as election results came in."]
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - Thousands of miles removed from their hometown polling stations, American soldiers in Iraq watched a historic U.S. presidential election unfold Tuesday evening.
Tuning in at a forward operating base in southern Baghdad, soldiers watched on big screen televisions as Democrat Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American to hold the nation's highest office.
"Amazing", said U.S. Army Sgt. Melissa Quereau. "I'm shaking I'm so excited. History right there. History being made right now."
Strict military rules that keep partisan debates private could not hide many soldiers' intense interest in Tuesday's election.
Watch: U.S. troops following election
"It is a critical election", U.S. Marine Corps spokesman Cameron Renner said in Baghdad. "The changing parties can dramatically affect the events that happen to us out here in this combat zone".
Obama, who was opposed to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, has called for a withdrawal of all combat soldiers from Iraq within 16 months.
"Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been," he wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece in July.
During his victory speech at Chicago's Grant Park, Obama acknowledged tough foreign policy issues he now inherits.
"Even as we stand here tonight", he said, "we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us."
But back home, Iraq was not America's biggest concern. Sixty-two percent of voters polled Tuesday said the economy was their top election issue, according to early national exit polling.
It was far ahead of the Iraq war, which only 10 percent of polled voters named their top issue.
A majority of those voters voted for Sen. Barack Obama in all but two states, according to early exit polling results.
Meanwhile, in a Shiite neighborhood in southeast Baghdad, seven people were killed and 20 others wounded when a bomb hidden underneath a vegetable cart exploded in a bus station, an official with the Iraqi Interior Ministry told CNN.
The seven were among 19 people killed in violence across Iraq Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said he welcomed an Obama presidency.
"The Iraqi government has a true desire to work and cooperate with the elected president in order to achieve the joint interest of the two countries, preserve the security and stability of Iraq, insure Iraq's full sovereignty and protect the interests of its people," he said.
- CNN's Phil Black and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report
Change has indeed come, and even more to follow. I have to agree that the philosophies of the president elect are defeatist and socialist in nature. As a veteran and citizen I am saddened and worried over what is to come for our nation's warriors. America has spoken, I just hope they know what they are saying.
All I keep thinking to myself is that, this is what Rosa Parks sat on the bus for and so many other people of all races. Congrats President Elect Obama. You ran a race I and many other can be proud of. You stayed on topic and did not belittle anyone, even when you had every right to do so. I am one crying proud American. And, please don't allow the ones that are doom and gloom stand in your way to do the right thing for all people, yes, all people of these United States.
Now, we can leave a country that we shouldn't even be in and focus on the country that did attack us.
J wilk, and Mike Dunford... can either of you tell me one way this man was not the best for the job?
I'd love to hear what you think on his (as you call them) "plans"
John McCain is an old man with his own best intrests in mind... just like all republicans... looking out for #1.... themsleves... try to think outside your little teeny tiny ever so insignigicant meaning to the world... just for a second... and tell me what McCain would have done for the WORLD at LARGE.
IN GOD WE TRUST!
I love ur job.Obama you are too good.
To Pam in Eugene OR–We are NOT in IRAN, but IRAQ, and the real war will be here at home, just wait and see!
I am so thrilled it makes me tingle. Finally someone who will understand and truly care about us all!
I am so ready for my extra $ to be sent to me and my free health care. Maybe it will be against the law soon to be a republican. That would be great because this 2 party system is the only reason things never get done. With only 1 party running the show all of our problems with soon be over! Deal with it. It's an Obama nation now!
Your happiness will be short-lived. Satan is dancing with joy that American fools elected Obama. Terrorists are already plotting the next attack on the US.
To all the people who are so quick to denigrate Barack Obama: The American people have made their choice in a free and fair election, the very thing this country stands for and our soldiers fight for.
So my question is, why do you hate America?
LMAO...I love the doom and gloom crowd here...a sad day for America? A great civilization dying? Obama extended his hand last night to both sides. So did McCain. You don't have any desire to work together with us to make things better...you just want to sulk? Okay...But I think the majority of the people out there are at least willing to try. You know, it's not about one guy winning the election...it's about making the country better for everyone...even you. Good luck.
We need to focus on the apparent border skirmishes going on with the drug cartels from Mexico. We need some troops along the southern border.
Way to take things out of context.
Having someone save you from a heart attack is needed.
Shooting someone, should never be needed.
Media bias continues even after the election. This article mentions nothing about the reactions of the 70% of the military that backed John McCain. This is not over folks – Republicans lost their way but just like 1994 after Bill Clinton screwed up the country for 2 years, the Republican Revolution part 2 will happen in 2010, make no mistake. This IS a center-right country, the foolish youth that voted for Obama just haven't realized the error of their ways yet.
As a Veteran, I am relieved that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America!
Finally our military will be focused on the real culprits of 9-11, the real threats to America and its people. A President who sets the strategic missions, not abdicating them to the commanders on the ground.
Mr Mike Dunford..
Silly Man!!!! Now more than ever we need to focus on the USA. The COUNTRY has spoken not just American asians, Indians, Blacks, Whites.. But all of America..
I feel that it is not only impotant to win the Electoral vote but the popular vote as well and he did that which shows you that the majority of America has spoken LOUDLY and CLEARLY that America is the Greatest country of the world..
Lets see what the Stock Market does... This will be an indication of the confidence the WORLD holds for our new vision and direction.
Barrack is the Commander and Chief for all AMERICANS and thats what is important.
to MIke Dunford.....how about letting the hundred of thousands of Iraqi troops that we've been training for these years take it all on while our troops are redeployed? We've dumped enough $ into that black hole. Let them do the dirty work.
I beg to disagree with you....My husband is in Iraq as I am writing this, and the majority of the soldiers there were always for Obama...and the polls proved it.....
So stop spreading the negative lies...our Soldiers are going to be completely behind their new Commander in Chief!!!!!!