Upbeat Obama Casts His Vote
By Alec MacGillis
CHICAGO -- Barack Obama came home today to cast his first vote for himself since 2004, and to prepare for what he predicted would be a "good night" for his campaign.
Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, visited a Hyde Park elementary school to cast their ballots, staying for nearly half an hour to greet students and teachers, poll worker and other voters.
Speaking to reporters at the school, Obama said it was "wonderful to be home."
"It's a great race all across the country, but to be able to come back home and see all these wonderful friends and neighbors, many of whom I've known for years, is really gratifying. It's nice to know I've got so much support," he said.
Asked what he thought the day's outcome would be, Obama said that it was a tough election to get a grasp of but that he felt good about where he stood. "I think everybody is flying blind on this one," he said. When the primaries were "one state at a time, we could actually track and get a sense of how the election and turnout was going. Here we've got 22 states, and nobody can keep track of it. What we know, though, is that the last couple weeks we've seen tremendous excitement."
He attributed this excitement to, among other things, voters gravitating toward his "message about change in how the economy is operating," to his exchange with Sen. Hillary Clinton about the war in Iraq at the Los Angeles debate last week, and to the endorsement he received from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. "All of that has generated a lot of energy on the ground," he said. "I still think that Senator Clinton is the favorite, she was up 20 or 30 points in a lot of the states, but we've been closing some ground. My guess is we'll have a good night."
He took a third question, separately, from Jacqueline Morgan, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at the school who is editor of the school paper, the Buzz. She had told reporters that she was planning to ask Obama "what will he do to make the world a better place." Asked how she managed to get into the gym past the Secret Service, she said, "My principal pulled a few strings and I got in." Asked what advice she had for the assembled media, she said, "Stay focused."
After Obama left, she said that he had answered her question: His plan to make the world better, she said, was "to improve the education system."
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