CHICAGO - President Obama today congratulated GOP nominee Mitt Romney on a hard-fought race and expressed confidence he would have the votes to win a second term as he kicked off Election Day with a visit to his local campaign office.
"I also want to say to Gov. Romney, 'Congratulations on a spirited campaign,'" the president told reporters after thanking volunteers at his local Hyde Park, Ill., field office. "I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today."
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With polls open across the country, the president expressed confidence that "we have the votes to win."
"I'm looking forward to the results, and I expect we will have a good night," he said. "No matter what happens, I want to say how much I appreciate everybody who supported me, everybody who has worked so hard on my behalf and, again, I want to congratulate Gov. Romney and his team for a hard- fought race as well."
The president, who voted early, in-person in Chicago two weeks ago, urged Americans "on all sides just to go out and exercise this precious right that we have and that people fought so hard for us to have."
Keeping with tradition, the president is spending the afternoon playing basketball with family and friends. Shooting hoops became a superstitious Election Day ritual for the president after he didn't play on the day of the New Hampshire primary in 2008, which he lost to Hillary Clinton.
Obama is playing at a local Chicago community center with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, former Obama aide and college basketball player Reggie Love, and his close friends, Mike Ramos and Marty Nesbitt.
-Mary Bruce and Devin Dwyer
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