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Obama Spends Election Day In Chicago

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: And I'm Scott Horsley, traveling with the Obama campaign. Actually, the president's campaign travel is finished. Mr. Obama spent the night at his own home in Chicago. Today's plans call for some TV and radio interviews and maybe a game of basketball with some friends. Mr. Obama's last reelection rally came last night in Iowa, where 20,000 people gathered just outside the caucus headquarters where he launched his first presidential campaign more than five years ago.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is where some of the first young people who joined our campaign set up shop, willing to work for little pay and less sleep because they believed that people who love their country can change it.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Meet me in a land of hope and dreams.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama was joined at rallies throughout the Midwest yesterday by Bruce Springsteen, whose anthem "We Take Care of Our Own" provided the theme song for this year's campaign. Springsteen, who also performed for Mr. Obama in 2008, told supporters it's up to them to keep the hopes of that campaign alive, despite the fierce challenges of the last four years.


SPRINGSTEEN: I've lived long enough to know that the future is rarely a time rushing in. It's often a slow march, inch by inch, day after long day.

HORSLEY: This campaign has also been waged inch by inch. The president and his advisors have always known they face a tougher contest than they did four years ago. They've relied on a huge network of volunteers to go block by block, signing up new voters and persuading supporters to get to the polls.

OBAMA: Jim, this is Barack Obama. It really is.

HORSLEY: Last night, Mr. Obama dropped by the German Village campaign office in Columbus, Ohio to cheer on those volunteers in person and by telephone.

OBAMA: Well, listen, I heard all the doors you've been knocking on and all the work you've been doing and canvassing, and I just wanted to say thank you.

HORSLEY: The Obama team believes they come into Election Day with a small, but persistent polling advantage in Ohio and other critical states, as well as a head start, thanks to early voting. Political advisor David Axelrod scoffs at Republican claims of a late-breaking wave for Governor Romney.

DAVID AXELROD: Our views are based on cold-hard data. Theirs is based on this kind of mystical faith that there's this hidden vote that's going to come roaring out on Election Day, and in most cases overcome a disadvantage that they have from early vote. I can tell you we are utterly confident that we're going to win this race, and they'll be left to explain why the mythical wave never came.

HORSLEY: Campaign aides are quick to add they're taking nothing for granted, and they promise a robust effort to get out the vote today. But, speaking to supporters in Cincinnati over the weekend, Mr. Obama allowed himself to look beyond Election Day, to what might happen if he's given a second term.


OBAMA: I intend to win Ohio, and I intend to win the presidency one more time. But even after that, I'm going to need all of you involved to make sure that we don't let up.

HORSLEY: If he does win, Mr. Obama hopes the election results might persuade Congressional Republicans to come to the bargaining table on issues such as tax policy and immigration. He said he's willing to negotiate with lawmakers from both parties, but he's also vowed not to trade away core Democratic priorities, such as the new health care law, Medicaid and funding for family planning.


OBAMA: That's not bipartisanship. That's not change. That's surrender. That's surrender to the same status quo that's been squeezing middle-class families for way too long.


SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Oh, we dream, baby, now, surrender(ph).

HORSLEY: In order to make that stand with Congressional Republicans, though, Mr. Obama first has to win today. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Des Moines.



You're listening to MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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