Voters Head to Polls to Pass Judgment on Historic Campaign

Control of Congress, Supreme Court and groundbreaking initiatives at stake.

Nov. 4, 2008— -- Polling places across the country are jammed with voters who are casting judgement on an epic presidential campaign that will be historic, regardless of who wins.

Long lines were reported in many locations for an election that many predict will break turnout records around the nation as Barack Obama and John McCain vie for the White House.

Obama and wife Michelle arrived a little after 8:30 a.m. ET today at a polling station in Chicago's South Side to cast their votes, with their children at their sides.

He later headed out to Indiana for a last minute rally in a state he hopes to win.

"The journey ends, but voting with my daughters, that was a big deal." Obama told reporters.

A few hours later, McCain voted near his home in Phoenix, before he headed out for appearances in Colorado and New Mexico.

Problems arose early at several polling places. In New York City, some precincts did not open on time at 6 a.m., even though some voters had arrived two hours early.

In New Jersey some precincts reportedly had to resort to paper ballots when electronic voting machines malfunctioned.

But in Ohio, Franklin County Board of Elections spokesman Ben Piscitelli told The Associated Press that so far, it has had only routine problems, like jammed paper feeds. "But there's nothing major or systemic," he said.

Late Monday a judge in Virginia turned down a request by the NAACP to extend voting hours for some predominately black precincts to deal with expected heavy turnout. The judge ordered precincts to stay open to accommodate anyone who was in line at closing time, the AP reported.

Hours before voters headed to the polls, the presidential candidates raced through 13 states to make their final pitch to the American public.

"I'm feeling kind of fired up," Obama told a raucous crowd of 100,000 in his final pre-election rally Monday night in Manassas, Va., a state that has not been won by a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. If Virginia goes for Obama, rival John McCain's path to an Electoral College victory will be all but impassable, strategists say.

McCain arrvied home in Phoenix today after thanking supporters in Prescott, Ariz., Monday night. "This enthusiasm convinces me we're going to win," he said. He spoke on the steps of the courthouse where Barry Goldwater launched his 1964 bid to win the White House. McCain spoke after an 18-hour, seven-state sprint through key battleground states. "It's been a long, long journey," McCain told the crowd.

As the campaigning wound down, McCain said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" -- taped at 2 a.m. ET -- that enthusiastic crowds buoyed his final sprint. "Certainly we're ready for it to be over, but i tell you it's an unforgettable experience. I will never forget the times we've had."

McCain told ABC's David Wright that he was proud of they way the campaign had turned out. "The pundits wrote us off four or five times, " McCain said. "But we're fine, and we have polling data and there's public polling data that shows we're really closing in."

Obama will end his day with a rally in Chicago tonight, that win or lose, is expected to draw 100,000 people.

While Barack Obama had what might have looked like a comfortable lead in national polls, John McCain was insisting that the race remained tight in the several battleground states that could decide the election.

Obama leads McCain by 53 percent to 44 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, which shows him making some gains with Republican-leaning groups, while McCain is relishing his underdog label, reviving a phrase from the primaries by telling voters "the Mac is Back."


Other states that could tip the scales in this election include Virigina, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. All of these state's polls close early and McCain campaign manager Rick Davis conceded to ABC News' George Stephanopolous Sunday that the Arizona senator would need to win five out of six of those early states to have a viable shot at winning.

Despite the death of his grandmother this morning, Obama campaigned vigorously throughout the day, pausing during a Charlotte, N.C., rally to pay tribute to the woman who raised him.

"She's one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America who -- they're not famous, their names aren't in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard," he said. "They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is do the right thing."

Fighting back tears, Obama said that "she died peacefully" and "was going home."

Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died after a long battle with cancer. Obama took a break from his campaign last month so he could visit the woman he affectionately calls "Toot."

McCain offered his "deepest condolences to Barack Obama and his family as they grieve the loss of their beloved grandmother."

McCain Presidential Hopes Riding on Pennsylvania?

McCain slogged through a seven-state tour that began Monday morning in New Mexico at 8 a.m. But it is the state of Pennsylvania that many believe could make or break his bid to win the White House.

"[Pennsylvania] is really the only big state that John Kerry won four years ago, that he's got a real shot of carrying" Stephanopolous said. (For the latest analysis, check out his blog.)

While the McCain campaign believes he could reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency without snatching Pennslyvania's 21, his camp concedes it would be very tough. The latest Quinnipiac poll has Obama up by 10 percentage points in the state, but despite these daunting numbers, the McCain campaign insists he has a shot there.

At a rally in Pittsburg Monday, McCain urged supporters to help him get out the vote.

"Let me give you some straight talk. There's just one day left until we take America in a new direction," he said. "We need to win in Pennsylvania tomorrow; with your help we will win! Volunteer, knock on doors, get your neighbors to the polls. I need your vote!"

But he also was confident, defying the polls and declaring that he would emerge victorious.

"I'm going to win Pennsylvania and I am going to be president," McCain said.

Obama 'Measuring the Drapes?'

Obama, meanwhile centered his attacks on the economy, hammering remarks McCain made in September when he said that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." Those remarks proved to be a pivotal moment for the Obama campaign and the Illinois senator has repeated them again and again to paint McCain as out of touch and ill equipped to lead during an economic crisis.

"Florida, you and I know that's not only fundamentally wrong, it also sums up his out-of-touch, on-your-own economic philosophy," Obama said. "It's a philosophy that says we should give a $700,000 tax cut to the average Fortune 500 CEO and $300 billion to the same Wall Street banks that got us into this mess. It's a philosophy that says we shouldn't give a penny of relief to more than 100 million middle-class Americans. And it's a philosophy that will end when I am president of the United States of America."

In an interview with ABC News' Ann Compton, Obama cautioned that the financial crisis would defer some of his priorities in his first year in office, but he said he would accomplish his "core commitments" of a middle-class tax cut, clean energy, education reform, and health care reform.

"Well, I think that we are not going to get everything done all at once, because of this financial crisis that's going to require a lot of attention a lot of resources," he said. "Not just money, but staff time, thinking about how do we right the ship. And so, it means that some priorities may get deferred but the core commitments that I've made in this campaign ... will get done."

McCain has seized on these kinds of remarks to portray Obama as presumptuous while bolstering his own status as the scrappy underdog.

"The pundits have written us off. My opponent is measuring the drapes in the White House. They may not know it, but the Mac is back," McCain said, repeating a line he used in the primaries when he won New Hampshire and began his journey to clinching the nomination.

Despite being willing to articulate some first-year priorities, Obama has tried to avoid looking overly confident, telling supporters that the fight is far from over.

"Don't believe for a second this election is over. Don't think for a minute that power concedes," he said in Florida. "We have to work like our future depends on it in the next 24 hours, because it does."

Joe Biden, Obama's running mate, sounded more confident, telling voters in Missouri they were on the "cusp of a new brand of American leadership."

"They're calling Barack Obama every name in the book," Biden said of his opponents in Missouri. "But ladies and gentlemen, listen to me closely: Tomorrow night they'll have to call Barack Obama something else -- the 44th president of the United States of America!"

In addition to Missouri, Biden visited four states Monday and McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, raced through five states. Palin spent the waning hours of the campaign attacking Obama for "socialist" tax policies.

"Now is not the time to experiment with socialism," Palin said. "Our opponent's plan is for bigger government."

Candidates Make Pitch to Football Fans

The two presidential candidates also reached out to football fans Monday night in interviews with ESPN's Chris Berman that aired during half-time of "Monday Night Football."

When asked what lesson he's learned on the campaign trail, Obama responded that he learned how to keep an even keel, adding that it was a quality that would serve him well in the White House.

"I don't get too high when things are going well and I don't get too low when things are going tough," Obama said. "Hopefully, if I have the honor of serving as president, it will serve us well when times are tough."

Berman asked McCain what he wanted voters to think of when they saw his name on the ballot.

"I want them to think, 'He. Could. Go. All. The. Way. To the White House,'" he said, mimicking one of Berman's catch phrases as an announcer. "Even though some pundits have written me off, that's why they play the game."

McCain added on a more serous note that "I want them to know I've always put my country first."

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