Obama returns to Iowa for end of campaign - US elections - Americas - The Independent

Obama returns to Iowa for end of campaign

 

Des Moines, Iowa

The end, for President Barack Obama, came in Iowa.

Ohio may prove to be the most important state in the 2012 election. But on Monday, the president closed his final campaign with a rally in the Hawkeye State, returning one last time as a candidate to the place that launched his improbable run to the White House.

The decision to bid farewell to the campaign trail with a nighttime appearance in Des Moines's historic East Village was as symbolic as it was strategic.

Obama is expected to have spent more than $1 billion on his campaign for reelection. He held 101 rallies. His final day included events in Madison, Wis., and Columbus, Ohio.

But the president has a special fondness for Iowa, where he upset Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic caucuses in January 2008. First lady Michelle Obama and rock icon Bruce Springsteen joined him Monday as he made his last appeal to voters outside the one-story brick building on Locust Street that housed his first field office for the 2008 campaign. It is now a church.

"Iowa, I started my presidential journey right here in this state," Obama said in Dubuque over the weekend, when he made his 17th visit to the state during his presidency and his 11th this year. "So after two years of campaigning, and after four years as president, you know me by now."

As Election Day drew near, Obama and his team of longtime advisers grew increasingly nostalgic. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki appeared at a rally in Cincinnati sporting a faded black Obama '08 baseball cap. Campaign adviser David Axelrod and White House adviser David Plouffe, also traveling with Obama, were wearing matching black Obama '08 fleece pullovers Monday. And White House speechwriters Jon Favreau and Ben Rhodes, who stumped with him four years ago, let their facial hair grow, vowing to shave only after the president had won his final campaign.

Aides said Obama, too, has reflected on the moment and how far he has come — win or lose.

The president is "well aware this is his last campaign," Axelrod said. As Obama took the stage before 18,000 in Madison, the senior adviser added: "I just said to the president this is like the end of a long-running series, and all the characters are coming back to be here. This has been a special journey."

Old friends Martin Nesbitt and Michael Ramos have traveled with the president this week on Air Force One. Robert Gibbs, Obama's former campaign and White House spokesman, was with him on the final day. So was Reggie Love, the president's personal aide during the 2008 campaign and the first three years of his term.

"Nobody gave us a chance to win the nomination," Plouffe said, reflecting on the first campaign. The night is "profoundly emotional."

Gibbs, now a private communications consultant advising the campaign, recalled the early days in 2007 when he forced Obama, then a senator from Illinois, to make 30 calls a day to Iowa officials, including high school student organizers. One girl told Obama, who was calling from an airplane, that she was too busy in yearbook class and would call him back.

"There were certain indignities for running for president back then," Axelrod said with a chuckle.

Much has changed since Jan. 3, 2008, when the young senator stood in front of supporters in Des Moines and vowed that someday, they would look back at his caucus victory as a "defining moment in history."

He had won the longest and most intense caucus campaign in history, besting Clinton after a year-long struggle that boosted turnout on voting day to 239,000, far above the 124,000 who participated in 2004. Obama took 38 percent of the vote to Clinton's 29.5 percent. Former Senator John Edwards, N.C., finished second with 29.8 percent.

"You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that has consumed Washington," Obama said during his victory remarks then. "We are choosing hope over fear; we're choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America."

Nearly five years later, however, even the president acknowledges that his time in office has been defined by sharply partisan battles with Republicans in Congress. The Des Moines Register, Iowa's most influential newspaper, endorsed Obama four years ago but stunned the president almost two weeks ago by throwing its support behind Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Obama "rocketed to the presidency from relative obscurity with a theme of hope and change," the newspaper said in its editorial. "A different reality has marked his presidency."

State polls show Obama maintaining an advantage of about five percentage points, but Romney remains within striking distance. The GOP nominee appeared in the state Sunday with his own appeal to anxious residents.

Obama, aware that even his supporters are "frustrated sometimes with the pace of change," has altered his closing appeal to emphasize that he has the scars — and gray hair — to testify to the battles he's fought with his Republican foes in Congress.

"I'm frustrated too, sometimes," he said Sunday in New Hampshire. "But you know where I stand. You know what I believe. You know I tell the truth. And you know that I will fight for you and your families every single day, as hard as I know how."

After Des Moines, Obama was scheduled to return to his home town, Chicago, where he will wait with his family Tuesday for results to come in. "It's safe to say that all Election Day traditions will be observed," Axelrod said.

Love is organizing the president's traditional Election Day pickup basketball game.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week