News Column

Politics and Play on Election Day

November 6.2012

By David Jackson, and Jackie Kucinich


Election Day is the last day for the candidates to do what they need to do to win. For Mitt Romney, that will be a few more campaign rallies in swing states. For President Obama, it will be basketball and radio.

The two candidates have barnstormed through a half-dozen battleground states over the past few days, and by Monday, Obama said he felt confident he had enough supporters to win re-election -- assuming his folks actually vote.

"We have enough voters to win -- it's just a matter of whether they show up," Obama told syndicated radio talk show host Warren Ballentine in one of a series of radio interviews the president conducted Monday. "If all the people who support me vote, then we'll be fine."

He had hinted over the weekend that the race had boiled down to turnout at this point and there was little more he could do. He told a crowd in Virginia on Saturday night that he had been speaking to his campaign staff backstage, "and we were talking about how, as the campaign goes on, we've become less relevant. I'm sort of a prop in the campaign. The planning, everything we do, it doesn't matter -- because now it's all up to you."

What Obama can do today is play basketball -- a ritual of Election Day relaxation and superstition.

Former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama has notified former aide Reggie Love -- who played at Duke -- to organize a pickup game in Chicago.

Obama has almost always played hoops on election days.

He skipped the game on the day of the 2008 New Hampshire primary, which he lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"We made the mistake of not playing basketball once," Gibbs said. "We won't make that mistake again."

Romney had planned to have a little Election Day downtime in Boston, but that changed Monday.

His campaign was originally scheduled to conclude Monday night with a rally in Manchester, N.H., with thousands of cheering supporters and a performance by musician Kid Rock.

Now it will end in a steel town.

Romney added last-minute Election Day stops to rally supporters in Pennsylvania and Ohio where polls show the Republican nominee and the president neck-and-neck. Romney held a rally with more than 25,000 people in Morrisville, Pa., Sunday night, his first visit to the state in weeks, as polls indicated that Obama's prior lead in the state was dwindling.

Romney adviser Stuart Stevens said the campaign added the events because there would be millions of volunteers helping Romney to get out the vote on Election Day and the candidate wanted to thank some of them in person.

Romney echoed Obama's sentiment that these last days are about turning out the vote -- as well as convincing friends and neighbors to vote for the Republican ticket. "Look, we have one job left, and that's to make sure that on Election Day ... we make certain that everybody who is qualified to vote, gets out to vote," Romney said at a rally in Florida on Monday. "We need every single vote in Florida."

Obama set his last rally of his last campaign -- win or lose -- for Monday night in Iowa, the state that launched his drive to the White House with a victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses.

Though he won't be in the air today, he does plan to be on the air. "He will have about a dozen local, state satellite interviews he'll be doing throughout the day. It's possible he will do additional get-out-the-vote radio throughout the day," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Romney was joined on his campaign plane Monday by several longtime advisers, his brother Scott and his wife, Ann.

Spokesman Rick Gorka said the mood was "light," and there was "a lot of reminiscing."

"It's been an incredible journey," Gorka said. "We are very, very, excited for these last events today (and) very, very, optimistic about our chances tomorrow."

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012

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