Obama, Romney Make Final Campaign Calls

Voters across the country cast ballots on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the presidential candidates spent their days very differently. Lynn Neary checks in with Ari Shapiro who spent the day with Mitt Romney and Scott Horsley who was with President Obama.

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LYNN NEARY, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Lynn Neary. It is almost over. After more than $2 billion and about a thousand campaign events, we will soon know the results.

MITT ROMNEY: This is a big day for big change. We're about to change America, to help people in ways they didn't imagine they could be helped, with good jobs and better take-home pay.

NEARY: Mitt Romney visited Ohio and Pennsylvania today after voting this morning in his home state of Massachusetts. President Obama stopped by a field office in Chicago and made some calls to campaign workers.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hi, is this Karen? Karen, this is Barack Obama. It is. I'm calling to say thank you. You're working so hard.

NEARY: This hour we'll be checking in with NPR reporters at polling places around the country. First, to our correspondents covering the candidates. Earlier, we caught up with NPR's Ari Shapiro, who's traveling with Governor Romney and NPR's Scott Horsley, who was with Mr. Obama in Chicago.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Well, the president, as you say, is in his hometown of Chicago. He got to sleep in his own home last night, something he doesn't do very often. And this morning, he dropped by a neighborhood campaign office in the Hyde Park neighborhood near his home, where he thanked the in-person volunteers and then made those phone calls that you just heard to people who've been working to get out the vote in Wisconsin, which is one, of course, the hotly contested battlegrounds.

He's spending a good part of the day at a hotel doing satellite interviews to encourage supporters to go to the polls and he's also going to indulge in a Election Day tradition by playing a game of basketball with some campaign staffers and some old friends.

NEARY: And Mitt Romney is taking a very different approach. He did a fair amount of traveling today, right, Ari?

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Quite a bit of traveling, but interestingly with the same broad brushstrokes as President Obama's itinerary. Mitt Romney came to Ohio and on to Pennsylvania, where, like the president, he went to a victory office, greeted volunteers, thanked people for their get-out-the-vote efforts. And, of course, the big difference between these events and what President Obama is doing is that these are taking place in swing states, Ohio being the most important swing state of all.

Pennsylvania being sort of a last-minute attempt by the Republicans to expand the map. These are not formally campaign events, but it certainly does not hurt for him to have a presence here on the ground with his running mate Paul Ryan on this day when people are going to the polls in a state that he is really, really trying very hard to win tonight.

NEARY: And, of course, Scott, getting out the vote, very important as well for President Obama. What is the Obama campaign saying about that effort?

HORSLEY: Well, they have long bragged about their field organization, their troops, both paid staff and volunteers who are in neighborhoods throughout the country, throughout the battleground states. This is an organization they've been building for more than a year and they expressed confidence that these folks, when they offer to give you a ride to the polls, they're not talking to strangers, they're talking to voters they've been cultivating for months now.

So they feel strongly that their ground game is solid and I think it's an expression of that confidence that President Obama feels he has the luxury of staying closer to home today.

NEARY: Ari, is the Romney campaign saying anything about the turnout so far? Are they happy about it? What's their...

SHAPIRO: Absolutely. They've been talking a lot in terms of comparing to 2008. They say the Obama ground game is falling short of 2008. The Republican's ground game, they say, is far better than it was in 2008. And, in fact, both sides agree that the Romney organization is far better than the McCain organization was four years ago. But remember, 2008 was a landslide election in Barack Obama's favor, so the question is - tonight is guaranteed to be a much smaller margin. Whether it will be a smaller margin for Barack Obama or for Mitt Romney depends on how much that gap has shrunk between 2008 and today. The Democrats had a much bigger buffer from 2008 that they could afford to lose some and still perhaps squeak out a win.

NEARY: I think a lot of journalists are expecting that this is going to be a long night for them. What about the candidates? Scott, what can you tell us about how President Obama is going to spend his evening? Is he going to stay up late?

HORSLEY: Well, they're not offering any prediction about when the results will be in, but they do say they think they have the votes that will guarantee the president a second term in the White House. Mr. Obama and his family are going to have dinner at their home in Hyde Park and then at some point this evening, the president will make his way over to his election night party, which is being held this year not outdoors in Grant Park, as it was in 2008 with the throngs, with a smaller crowd indoors, but still in a sizable location.

It's a sort of a convention-center-type building here in Chicago called McCormick Place.

NEARY: And Ari?

SHAPIRO: Well, Mitt Romney is going to be watching returns also from his home base in Boston. We've asked campaign aides for details for things like when and where he'll be eating dinner. We asked, you know, what's the candidate going to have for his last meal? Traveling press secretary Rick Gorka replied, he's going to live beyond Tuesday, guys. But he's staying relentlessly optimistic and pushing through to the very last minute with this swing through Ohio and Pennsylvania today.

NEARY: Well, thanks to both of you for all of the fantastic work you've done over this campaign and into tonight. It's been good following you through this entire campaign.

SHAPIRO: Thank you.

HORSLEY: It's really been a privilege, Lynn.

NEARY: NPR's Scott Horsley with President Obama in Chicago and Ari Shapiro traveling with Governor Romney today.

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