The president spent Election Day in Chicago. He stopped by his campaigns Hyde Park field office in south Chicago to greet workers and call voters. He called six Wisconsin voters, then talked to supporters at the office.
He congratulated Romney for a spirited campaign and said he felt good about the results. We feel confident weve got the votes to win, that its going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out, Obama said.
Later Tuesday, Obama was player-coach for a quick basketball game. Among his team members was former Chicago Bulls great Scottie Pippen. Obamas team won by about 20 points.
Romney voted in Belmont, Mass., and then made hastily scheduled campaign swings to Ohio and Pennsylvania. Ohio is considered crucial for Romney; no Republican has been elected president without winning the Buckeye State.
The last days scramble was vividly on display at the Cleveland airport. As Romney was waiting for running mate Paul Ryan to arrive, Vice President Joe Bidens plane took off. Biden made his own last-minute trek to Ohio.
Romney visited a Cleveland-area campaign office, where he proclaimed, "This is a big day for change."
Afterward, he and Ryan went to lunch at a local Wendys restaurant. Romney ordered a quarter-pounder, chili and a frosty, while Ryan had a quarter-pounder and a salad.
Obama was dogged throughout the year by voters expressing qualms about his stewardship of the economy. He was unlikely to match the 52.8 percent share of the popular vote he got in 2008, or match the 365 electoral votes he won that year, when he pledged to start a new era of hope and change politics.
The campaign will be remembered as a marathon that started and stayed close. Neither Romney nor Obama could open up much of a lead, and both parties spent unprecedented billions of dollars for ads and efforts to turn out their voters.
Obama was vulnerable from the beginning. Within weeks of taking office in January 2009, he pushed through an $831 billion economic stimulus plan aimed at easing the recessions impact. In 2010, he won approval of a historic overhaul of the nations health system, which will require nearly everyone to obtain coverage by 2014.
Both measures were passed with virtually no Republican support, and often bitter partisan wrangling. Republicans saw a huge political opening, and fueled by the grassroots tea party movement, the party won control of Congress in 2010 by protesting what it called Obamas overreliance on and expansion of government.
At the same time, the economy struggled to recover. The nations unemployment rate, 7.8 percent the month Obama took office, went to 10 percent that October and was 7.9 percent last month more ammunition for the Republicans.
Obama, though, got some breaks. The economy did recover. Unemployment has dropped from its highs. Consumer confidence inched up. And Romney struggled at first to win the hearts of the conservatives who drive the Republican Party.
Obama exploited Romneys past, recalling his support of Massachusetts abortion rights laws and his support for the states health care law, considered a model for the federal program.
Obama was also able to target specific groups of voters who Romney tended to alienate. The president pushed hard for womens votes with reminders Romney now sided firmly with anti-abortion forces and had to call for "binders full of women" in order to find qualified women to fill jobs while governor. In states with legions of auto workers such as Ohio, he recalled how Romney urged letting the domestic industry go bankrupt without any help from the federal government.
Romney won the nomination only after an unexpected struggle against a weak field, and not until the summer and fall did the party base begin rallying around him. The choice of Ryan helped energize the right, but Romneys biggest boost came during the Oct. 3 debate in Denver.
Romneys assured performance that night galvanized conservative support and seemed to give him new momentum. He briefly opened up a larger lead over Obama, only to see it fade as the president came back and did well in the next two debates.
What may have helped Obama most was superstorm Sandy. Leaders traditionally benefit from a rally-round-the-flag effect immediately after crises, and Obama suspended campaigning for three days last week so he could monitor and manage emergency responses.
Wednesday, he visited battered New Jersey, touring the devastation with Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who had given the party conventions keynote address. Christie had warm praise for the presidents efforts.
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