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Obama calls midterm elections a 'shellacking' for Democrats

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Charles Dharapak/AP

(Read caption) President Barack Obama waves as he turns to leave after calling the election a 'shellacking' for Democrats during a news conference, Wednesday.

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A subdued President Barack Obama met Wednesday with the press in the East Room of the White House after a long midterm election night. Calling the election night 'humbling,' President Obama said, "some election nights are more fun than others."

In his opening remarks, Obama shifted his focus from the Democratic loss of the House the night before to the unifying challenge of America's future in a changing world.

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"Because the most important contest we face is not the contest between Democrats and Republicans. In this century, the most important competition we face is between America and our economic competitors around the world."

But the biggest word to come out of the press conference wasn't 'globalization.' It was Obama's use of the word 'shellacking' that had the blogosphere talking. In a midterm election year peppered with defining words like 'gravitas,' 'witchcraft,' and 'refudiates' (no, it's not a word... yet), 'shellacking' may not seem so provocative, but when history books write about this administration they may well point to this moment as Obama's turning point.

Just as President Clinton had to change course after a massive Democratic defeat in 1994, Obama may have to redefine himself as President. If he does, the 'shellacking' comment could well become known as the exact moment of change in the administration.

IN PICTURES: Election day 2010