President Obama casts his early vote in Chicago - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Obama votes early in Chicago hometown

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

President Obama and Mitt Romney are putting their last days on the campaign trail to use. It's down to the final stretch, just 12 days away from the Nov. 6 election.

The president traveled 5,500 miles campaigning across the country Wednesday to cast his vote.

"We can vote early in Illinois, just like you can vote early here in Nevada," the president said at a campaign event in Las Vegas Wednesday night. "I've come to Nevada to ask you for your vote. I've come to ask you to help me keep America moving forward."

Music superstar Katy Perry wore her early vote while performing at a free concert the same night, indicating she's supporting the president and his running-mate, Vice President Joe Biden.

Early voting is extremely popular in Chicago and Cook County, with record numbers of voters waiting in line to do that, especially at the Martin Luther King Community Center.

The center is open for early voting through Saturday, Nov. 3.

President Obama has been urging supporters to vote early, and in Obama's former neighborhood, the historical nature of his vote is important to some local voters.

"I felt it's so important," one early voter said. "Martin Luther King felt it was important for us to vote. I felt it was important for me to come here and vote at the center on the same day that President Obama is coming to vote."

"It's a sense of pride," another voter said. "He decided to do this for the first time in history, a sitting president to come and cast his vote early. It will be exciting to see him do that."

The president arrived in Chicago around 3:40 p.m. Thursday, and cast his ballot around 4 p.m. He left around 6 p.m. to resume his rigorous campaign schedule by flying to Cleveland, Ohio.

Record numbers of voters are casting their ballots early in Cook County, and one of the hot voting spots is the Martin Luther King Community Center on the South Side.

The president says, "all across the country we're seeing a lot of early voting." He says it was "really convenient" but jokes, "I can't tell you who I voted for."
 
Obama signed forms and showed his driver's license at a South Side Chicago voting site and then voted at a blue voting machine. 

"I've got my driver's license! Here ya go. Now, ignore the fact that there's no gray hair in that picture," Obama said before he cast his ballot.

Though the President showed his ID for early voting, those who vote on Election Day, November 6th in Illinois, will not have to produce an identification. In several states where Republicans control the lawmaking, they've enacted anti-fraud rules requiring every voter to present a picture ID. Democrats call voter fraud virtually non-existent and, in Illinois, ID is needed only for early voting.  After taking about 3-1/2 minutes with his ballot, the President turned it in, then spoke to the cameras broadcasting the event live from coast to coast.

"All across the country we're seeing a lot of early voting," the president said. "It means you don't have to figure out whether you have to take time off work, figure out how to pick up the kids, and still cast your ballot. If something happens on Election Day, you will have already taken care of it."

While the President was inside, close friend and advisor David Axelrod was outside trying to convince reporters that the Democrats' early vote campaign has already built a lead in such swing states as Ohio and Iowa.

"There are all kinds of public polls. They're all over the map. But, the thing that counts now is how people vote," Axelrod explained. "And they're voting. You know, in Iowa, for example, more than a quarter of the vote has been cast. And we think we're mounting up quite a lead there."

President Obama has also picked up a big endorsement from Former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

General Powell, a long-time Republican, praises President's Obama fight against terrorism and his plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, because "and didn't get us into any new wars."

He praised Obama's economic performance, saying, while difficult choices are ahead on taxes, spending and budgetary policies, "steadily, I think we've begun to come out of the dive and we're gaining altitude."

He told CBS' "This Morning" he respects fellow Republican Mitt Romney but thinks he's been vague on many issues. Powell also said he has trouble with what he calls Romney's "very strong neo-conservative" views.

Obama later called Powell to thank him.

Powell, a retired general, was also a White House national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Powell said he's still a Republican.

Mitt Romney kicked off another busy day for his campaign Thursday, by hitting three Ohio towns, starting in Cincinnati. Ohio's 18 electoral votes are pivotal for the Republican ticket.

Most political analysts say mathematically, Romney could sweep Colorado, Florida, Iowa and New Hampshire and could still be short of the 270 electoral votes needed if he doesn't win Ohio.

Romney was in Nevada, Colorado and Iowa Wednesday night. He continued to drive home his economic message in Cedar Rapids, saying the president has failed America.

"I come to you with this commitment: If I'm elected president - when I'm elected president - I will do everything in my power to restore those principles America has used to build a strong economy and to be the leader of the world," Romney said. "I'll make sure that we strengthen our values, strengthen our families, strengthened our homes, and strengthen economy and keep our military second to none in the world."

FURTHER ANALYSIS BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:

By BEN FELLER and NEDRA PICKLER

Associated Press

A scratchy-voiced President Barack Obama powered through a marathon drive to get his supporters to vote Thursday and set an example by becoming the first president to cast his own ballot ahead of time. Republican Mitt Romney spent one of the precious 12 days before Election Day entirely focused on the Rust Belt battleground of Ohio.

With a new Associated Press-GfK poll showing Romney has erased Obama's 16-point advantage among women, the president tried to keep a GOP abortion controversy alive. The risers behind him stacked with female supporters, Obama made a veiled reference to Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comment that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something God intended."

"As we saw again this week, I don't think any politician in Washington, most of whom are male, should be making health care decisions for women," Obama said. "Women can make those decisions themselves."

It was the president's first mention of Mourdock's comment at a rally, but Obama said Wednesday night on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" that "rape is rape." His campaign also has been intensifying its criticism of Romney for refusing to pull his support for Mourdock, even though the Republican presidential nominee said he disagrees with Mourdock's comment.

Beyond the statement from an aide, Romney and his aides have tried to avoid the subject. While picking up breakfast at a downtown Cincinnati diner on Thursday, Romney refused to answer repeated questions from reporters standing nearby about Mourdock's comment and whether he would call for Mourdock to take down a TV ad Romney filmed for him earlier this week.

At a rally later at the Jet Machine manufacturing company, Romney continued to avoid any talk about abortion but spoke repeatedly about the choices facing American families. He said seniors on Medicare would struggle to find doctors if Obama is re-elected, daughters would face crushing college loan debt and parents would lose choices about where to educate their children.

"This election is not about me. It's not about the Republican Party," Romney told a crowd estimated at 3,000. "It's about America. And it's about your family,"

Romney's campaign reached out to women by sending Ann Romney on daytime's "Rachael Ray" show, where she prepared her meatloaf cakes recipe and took cameras along on a trip to Costco to shop in bulk for family gatherings. Mrs. Romney said that, with 30 mouths to feed, her family always eats buffet-style and that "Mitt is often at the front of the line."

Romney was on a daylong swing through three Ohio towns, sharpening his focus on a state critical to his hopes of winning the White House. The Republican's advisers say their internal data has him tied to win the state's 18 Electoral College votes, but public polling has shown Obama with a slim lead.

Obama, in the midst of a four-state blitz on Thursday, also was scheduled to finish his day in Ohio. Shortly after Romney concludes his evening remarks in Defiance, the president was set to appear 150 miles to the east in Cleveland.

The AP-GfK poll released Thursday shows the presidential race still a virtual dead heat nationally, with Romney favored by 47 percent of likely voters and Obama by 45 percent. That result is within the poll's 4.2-point margin of error.

Although national polls show the race is close, Romney is struggling to overtake Obama in the state-by-state march to racking up the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory. Romney has far fewer paths to reaching that threshold than Obama, who starts with more states -- and more Electoral College votes -- in his win column. The race is centered on just nine states, where polls show competitive races: Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin.

The president's morning rally kicked off the second day of his 40-hour battleground state blitz. After spending the night on Air Force One en route to Florida, he was heading to Virginia, Illinois and Ohio before returning to the White House.

Shortly after 7 a.m. and less than five hours after ending his day in Las Vegas, Obama was at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop near downtown Tampa, and minutes later delivered the still warm doughnuts to a nearby firehouse. He said he wanted to come by early -- noting he is not often out this early -- to thank them for all they do.

Obama then spoke to about 8,500 people at a morning rally in Tampa, a swing area of battleground state Florida.

With a full day of campaigning still ahead of him, Obama's voice was already hoarse. But he told the enthusiastic crowd he was "just going to keep on keeping on until every single person out there who needs to vote is going to go vote."

He noted to cheers that he was going to Chicago later Thursday to participate in early voting and that first lady Michelle Obama already mailed in her ballot. Obama campaign spokesman Jennifer Psaki said they hoped his example would send a message to others in early voting states that they should do so as well.

Obama's campaign also announced joint rallies Monday with Bill Clinton in Orlando, Fla., Youngstown, Ohio, and Prince William County, Va. The president also picked up an endorsement from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican who supported Obama in 2008. Powell praised Obama's handling of the economic recovery, telling "CBS This Morning:" "I think we've begun to come out of the dive and we're gaining altitude." White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president learned of the endorsement while visiting the Tampa fire station and called Powell to thank him.

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Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples and Kasie Hunt in Cincinnati and Julie Pace and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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