Obama The First Sitting President To Vote Early

President Obama made history again on Thursday, becoming the first sitting president to vote early in person. His vote came at the end of a three day campaign blitz.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THING CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. If you enjoy travel, you might consider running for the White House. Just today, President Obama is visiting not one, not two, not three - but four states, and then flying home in time for bed. On his schedule: rallies in Florida, Virginia and Ohio; and a trip to Chicago, to cast his vote - for himself, of course.

Early voting is one message the president has been pushing on a two-day, whirlwind trip across the country. NPR's Scott Horsley is along for the ride. Hi there, Scott. You holding up OK?

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: (LAUGHTER) Hanging in there, Audie.

CORNISH: So explain why early voting is so important to the Obama campaign strategy.

HORSLEY: Well, public polls show that the president is out-polling Mitt Romney among the people who have voted early, in person. Now, there's some dispute about what this means. The GOP argues that those voters are simply time-shifting; and that every vote cast early for the president, is just one less vote he'll get on November 6. The Democrats say, to the contrary; by promoting early voting opportunities, they're helping to bring more people into the process.

Last night, after a late-night rally in Las Vegas, the president dropped by the employee lunchroom at one of the casinos there, where he met with some casino workers; many of them putting in double shifts. These are the kind of folks who might find it difficult to get to the polls during the regular voting hours. And these are the folks the president's team thinks will help them out, thanks to early voting.

CORNISH: And I guess it's no accident that the president is trying to rally casino workers to his side.

HORSLEY: No. The Culinary Workers Union is a political powerhouse in Nevada, and the president is counting on their support. He's also working to rally other core constituencies - Latinos, African-Americans and women. He got some help in that last effort, this week, from Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who defended his own opposition to abortion - even in the case of rape - by saying if a rape victim becomes pregnant, then it's something God intended. Mr. Obama told a rally in Tampa this morning: This is why politicians should not be making health-care decisions for women.

(SOUNDBITE OF STUMP SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That's why the health-care law we passed put those choices in your hands. That's where it's - belongs. And that's where it will stay, as long as I'm president of the United States.

(CHEERS)

HORSLEY: Now, this has some national resonance because Mitt Romney had previously been a strong backer of Richard Mourdock, although Romney himself says he would allow abortions, in the case of rape.

CORNISH: Now, the president got another boost today, this time from Colin Powell. The former secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs endorsed him - again. Now, how big a deal is that?

HORSLEY: Right. It may be a little bit less of a headline-grabber than it was four years ago, when Colin Powell came out for Mr. Obama. But, you know, this could help to inoculate the president against the charge that Mitt Romney has been waging - that he would gut the defense budget. After all, Colin Powell's credentials on national security, are pretty solid. Now, on the other hand, there are people for whom the defense budget is more of a pocketbook issue, whose livelihoods depend on defense work. And for them, Colin Powell's endorsement may mean less.

CORNISH: And finally, Scott, the president's been traveling for two days straight. He's hit a bunch of battleground states. He even held a rally - practically in the middle of the night, last night, as you mentioned. I mean, how is President Obama staying awake?

HORSLEY: (LAUGHTER) Well, Audie, after that all-night flight from the West Coast, one of the first things the president did this morning in Tampa, was stop at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop - although he gave most of those glazed goodies away. Aides do say he gets a kind of sugar rush, just from being out on the campaign trail. And in fact, he told Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show," last night, that this year, the White House is suspending its tradition of handing out healthy snacks for Halloween.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

OBAMA: Michelle takes this, you know, healthy eating seriously. But it is an election year, so candy for everybody.

(AUDIENCE LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

CORNISH: NPR's Scott Horsley, traveling with the president. Thanks so much, Scott.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Audie.

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