Tuesday 20 March 2018

Teary Obama asks voters to keep faith

Peter Foster Chicago

Barack Obama closed out his last ever day on the presidential campaign trail yesterday with a round of last-minute calls urging volunteers to drum out the Democratic vote and a quick-fire game of basketball with friends to relieve the stress.

Having cast his vote early two weeks ago, Mr Obama did not go to the polls himself but instead to a campaign office in his hometown of Chicago where he spent several minutes cold-calling supporters in the neighbouring swing state of Wisconsin to thank them for all their hard work.

"How you feeling out there? We're so proud of you and I'm so grateful for everything you've done," Mr Obama said to Hattie Portis-Jones, a campaign worker from Atlanta, Georgia, who had been a volunteer in Wisconsin for the past three weeks.

With the polls so very tight, Mr Obama may well have had a restless night, arriving in Chicago after midnight.

However, he did have the rare pleasure of waking up in his own bed in the Hyde Park suburb of Chicago where he still has a house.

Aides said Mr Obama was planning to eat dinner with wife Michelle before he went to Chicago's McCormick Place convention centre to address a party of 10,000 supporters -- just a fraction of the more than 200,000 who filled Grant Park four years ago.

Mr Obama admitted he would be lying if he said there weren't some "butterflies before the polls come in", but added there was no point fretting.

"At a certain point you get calm because this is working how it is supposed to, which is that power now resides with individual voters," he said.

Deciding not to travel -- unlike his opponent -- Mr Obama instead gave another 10 television interviews to local news channels in key states such as Ohio and Florida, a move that aides said did not reflect overconfidence, but a decision to spare states inconvenience on polling day.

As he gave the final interviews, Mr Obama's voice was still hoarse from an extreme schedule that ended in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday night -- the city where the then Senator Obama began the Democratic primary campaign that took him to the White House.

Greyer and wearier-looking after four years in office, Mr Obama gave a rare display of public emotion as he delivered his last ever stump speech, the trail of what appeared to be a small tear caught in the TV lights as the president quickly wiped it from his face.

He recalled the days before he travelled in Air Force One, when the Obama campaign offices were so threadbare that volunteers had come to paint the walls and deliver hats and coats to young workers when the heating failed.

"This was 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," he said, before asking for their help one final time.

"I'm not ready to give up on the fight," he added, a catch in his voice.

"I've got a lot more fight left in me. But to wage that fight on behalf of American families, I need you to still have some fight in you, too." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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